The Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) held a joint press conference recently to explain Law No 13 of 2018 amending some provisions of Law No (21)/2015 concerning the regulation of entry, exit and residence of expatriates.
The press conference was led by Dr Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi, Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs and Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Ateeq, Director of the General Directorate of Passports.
Dr Al Nuaimi clarified that the amended law guarantees the right of the expatriate workers under the provisions of the Labour Law to leave the country temporarily or on final exit, without requiring the consent of the employer. He said that the employer can identify five percent of his employees who need pre-approval before leaving the country, due to the nature of their work.
An expatriate worker, who is not allowed to exit the country for any reason, can approach the Expatriate Exit Grievances Committee. The committee shall decide on his grievances within three working days. Procedures will be announced in consultation with MOI, so that employers may submit a list of employees who need pre-approval before leaving the country. The list should not exceed five percent of the company’s total workforce.
This law is part of a bundle of legislations issued by the State of Qatar to protect the rights of workers. The State of Qatar has become one of the countries referred to in this regard by protecting the rights of workers and has become an example in the region, thanks to God Almighty and to the directives of HH The Emir.’
He said that Law No (13) of 2018, amending certain provisions of Law No (21) of 2015 concerning the regulation of entry, exit and residence of expatriates, complements the previous legislations issued to protect workers’ rights and provide them a safe work environment. These measures started with wage protection system (WPS) through which all employees get their salaries through the banks. He also said that there is a separate department in MADLSA that monitors wage protection system and the necessary measures are taken in case of any delay in payment of wages of workers.
The Department of Labour Relations at the MADLSA receives the workers complaints. The Department considers the complaints filed within one week of submitting it and coordinates with the employer to reach an amicable solution.’
In the absence of such a solution, the complaint will be referred to the Labour Disputes Settlement Committee, recently established at MADLSA. These committees are headed by judges of the Supreme Judicial Council along with expert members from the Ministry. The complaints are reviewed and settled within a maximum period of three weeks.
These committees decide on cases quickly so that the worker does not remain in a permanent dispute with the employer, giving each person the right. They also help the worker who proves the right to the subject of the complaint to obtain another job or leave the country if the worker so desired.’
Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund
Dr Al Nuaimi also mentioned about the draft law of the ‘Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund’ which was approved by the cabinet at its twenty-second ordinary meeting last week, after approval by the Shura Council. He pointed out that the process of completing the procedures for issuing the law is being carried out and will be presented to HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The Minister explained that the fund is also complementary to a bundle of legislations. He said that one of the benefits of the fund is that if the Labour Disputes Settlement Committee issues its decision on the eligibility of a worker in his complaint, and the employer is unable to meet the worker’s due because of financial incapacity or bankruptcy of the company, the fund shall pay the worker’s dues and secure his departure from the country. The fund then will collect what it has paid, from the employer to be added to the fund’s resources.
This new legislation has become a catalyst for the country, which has led labour-exporting countries to choose it as a country that encourages work and guarantees all rights to workers. This reflects in the quality of work and production that benefit the employer.’
He further stressed that that MADLSA strives for the benefit of both workers and employers. As the worker is entitled to file a complaint against the employer, the employer is also entitled to file a complaint through the Labour Relations Department, in the event that a breach of employment contract is committed.
He said that the ministry is also carrying out awareness campaigns in cooperation with Qatar Chamber to clarify the mechanism of submitting complaints by employers, in case an employee refuses to carry out his work assignment or if he incites the rest of the workers, works with another company and violate the work contract agreed upon by both parties.
The recent legislation has won international praise, starting from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICTU), the Union of Construction and Timber Workers, and the Union of Transport Workers as well as other Trade Unions and International Human Rights Organisations.
This praise underscores Qatar’s interest in protecting the rights of workers and the achievements of the state in providing workers with a safe environment for work, which is a pride for all of us.’
Concerning the implementation of Law No 13 of 2018, Brigadier Mohamed Ahmed Al Ateeq, Director of the General Directorate of Passports at the Ministry of Interior, said that joint committees have been formed between the MOI and MADLSA to find mechanisms to simplify the procedures for implementing the law. He said that the current situation requires more awareness campaigns, in partnership with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce to clarify the law especially regarding the five percent of employees whom the employer specifies as requiring prior approval from the employer and will be placed in the system of the MOI.
Regarding the date of implementation, the Minister said that the law is to be implemented on the day following its publication in the Official Gazette. He said that during the period leading up to the implementation, the two ministries, in coordination and cooperation with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce, will conduct awareness workshops for employers to clarify all required procedures and mechanisms to implement this amendment.
In response to a question about the mechanism under which the Labour Support and Insurance Fund will work, the Minister said that the most important functions of the fund is to pay the dues of any stranded worker because the employer cannot pay their dues due to bankruptcy.
The fund will also establish playgrounds and entertainment facilities for workers in specified areas.’
He said that resources of the fund will consist of the amount allocated by the state as well as proceeds from the fund’s investments.
For more updates and information about the new law, visit the MOI website at moi.gov.qa.