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Posted On: 30 August 2020 04:08 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:22 pm

NOC no longer required to change job, sponsor in Qatar

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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.

When will this new law come into effect that employees no longer require NOCs in Qatar?

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.

NOC law published in Qatar's Official Gazette; effective immediately

Terms and conditions for obtaining a NOC in Qatar

Without No-Objection Certificates, what is the process for terminating a contract?

  • The No-Objection Certificate requirement to change jobs for employees has been eliminated.
  • Employees and employers will be able to terminate contracts, whether fixed-term or open-ended, subject to a minimum notice period.
  • Either party must provide one month written notice if the worker has worked for the employer for two years or less of the contract, or two months’ notice if they have worked with the employer for over two years.
  • If the contract is terminated without appropriate notice, the party terminating is obligated to pay the other party a compensation equal to the basic wage of the employee for the notice period.

The notification terms required for resigning work in Qatar

What is the significance of these measures?

  • No other country in the region provides a non-discriminatory minimum wage for workers. This reform is the first of its kind in the Middle East.
  • The law is non-discriminatory. Every worker receives a minimum wage regardless of nationality, industry or job. Minimum wages that have been implemented in other parts of the Middle East only apply to certain nationalities.
  • The removal of the No-Objection Certificate requirement will increase the mobility of talent within Qatar and give workers the freedom to change jobs. This severs the contractual ties to their employer and will lead to increased job satisfaction.

What does non-discriminatory wage mean and how will it be enforced?

The non-discriminatory minimum wage of QAR 1,800 applies to workers in Qatar’s private sector, regardless of job roles and nationalities.

  • Qatar’s State Cabinet has passed a draft law to increase the financial and non-financial penalties for companies violating labour laws, including in cases of delayed salary payments.
  • ADLSA will be working with employers to update their employment contracts and ensure they are in line with the new legislation within the next six months.
  • A Minimum Wage Committee will be formed and tasked with frequently studying and reviewing the minimum wage of employees and domestic workers.
  • If a company currently has employees on its payroll system who earn less than the amount set out above, this must be amended in accordance with the new minimum wage. If the payroll system contains wages that are above these amounts, employers must not breach the terms of the contract by lowering the wages.
  • Workers are being educated to make sure they understand their rights and know-how to access
    the help available to enforce those rights.

How will this create more competition and innovation in Qatar?

  • The new laws are setting a new standard for the region and make Qatar a more attractive destination for talented and skilled workers.
  • These decisions will drive greater competition in Qatar’s labour market, pushing employers to attract and retain the best talent who will support Qatar’s transition to a diversified economy.
  • A diversified economy will attract further investment in the local economy and nurture an innovative environment.
  • The new decisions add to an already dynamic labour market where employees are able to gain new skills

What is a No Objection Certificate (NOC)?

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