Expats in Qatar no longer need a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their present employer/sponsor when they want to switch jobs (even if their employment contract is still valid) or sponsorship, according to a press release from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) an the Government Communications Office (GCO).
Up until today, under Qatar's "kafala" (Arabic word for sponsorship) system, expats in Qatar had to get their employers' permission - a NOC - before changing jobs.
The International Labour Organisation in Qatar also published a press release hailing the decision of the Qatari government:
"In a historic move, the State of Qatar has introduced major changes to its labour market, ending the requirement for migrant workers to obtain their employer’s permission to change jobs, while also becoming the first country in the region to adopt a non-discriminatory minimum wage."
Following the adoption on 30 August 2020 of Law No. 18 of 2020, migrant workers can now change jobs before the end of their contract without first having to obtain a NOC from their employer. This new law, coupled with the removal of exit permit requirements earlier in the year, effectively dismantles the “kafala".
In addition to removing the need to obtain a NOC, the adoption of Law No. 19 of 2020 provides greater clarity regarding the termination of employment. To terminate an employment contract, workers must provide at least one month’s written notice if they have worked with the employer for two years or less, or two months’ notice if they have worked with the employer for over two years.
The new standards are aligned with the human and economic development goals of Qatar’s 2030 National Vision. The standards will attract talented and ambitious workers from overseas, protect their rights and ensure their safety.
Law No 18 removing the No Objection Certificate requirement to change jobs in Qatar came into force on Wednesday 9 September 2020 as soon as it was published in Qatar's Official Gazette.
The non-discriminatory minimum wage of QAR 1,800 applies to workers in Qatar’s private sector, regardless of job roles and nationalities.
The No Objection Certificate or NOC is a letter of clearance stating that the previous employer has no objections about the employee finding another job at another company. This frees the employee from any obligations towards the previous employer and allows them to find a new job and a new sponsor.
In the last two years, Qatar has announced a number of sweeping reforms to its labour market, with a view to ending the kafala system, and marking a momentous step forward in upholding the rights of migrant workers. This latest step is just another step forward for expats who will now be able to change their jobs without requiring a NOC.
On 16 October 2019, the Council of Ministers of Qatar had unanimously approved new legislation allowing workers to change employers freely. Workers in Qatar had previously required a NOC from their employer in order to do so.
Qatar also announced the new minimum wage law. Read the full statement here!
Source: GCO and ADLSAQ
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