By Nizar Kochery/Doha
QUESTION: I work with construction company which doesn’t pay salary to its workers properly. Because of this, some employees resigned three months ago after four years of service. When the company dragged its feet over paying their end-of-service gratuity, the workers approached Qatar’s labour court which issued a judgement in their favour. The company then paid them, but the settlement was based on the workers’ joining salary. The company had actually issued salary increments twice. The increment had been announced in a company notice, mentioning the revised salary. It hadn’t described the increment as allowance. Aren’t we eligible for getting our end-of-service benefits based on the salary mentioned in the increment order?
ANSWER: Article 54 of the Labour Law provides that end-of-service (ESB) benefits shall be payable to those employees with one or more years of continuous service. The rate of ESB shall be agreed upon between the employer and employee, but must be no less than three weeks’ basic salary per year of service.
Article 72 stipulates that the end-of-service gratuity shall be calculated on the basis of the basic wage on the date of entitlement.
Accordingly, the basic salary on the date of termination will be the basis for calculation. The breakup of wages into basic salary and allowances (if any) in the employment contract are relevant.
If no breakup is given in the contract “the new salary” will be taken as revised basic salary for all calculations. The ESB sum is calculated on basic salary alone. Seek the Labour Department’s assistance.
Document as evidence
Q: I have a case in the court related to a dispute over a payment. The evidence for payment due to me is a document in writing and signed by the other party? It is not in a court paper? Could any document signed outside Qatar be used as valid evidence in the court?
A: According to Article 220 of the procedural laws, a private instrument is said to be issued by the signatory thereof unless he explicitly denies the handwriting, signature or fingerprint attributed to him.
Allegations of forgery, however, may be made in the case of all papers and documents, authentic or signed. If one of the parties challenges any handwriting, signature, seal or fingerprint imputed to him in an ordinary document and the document has a determining influence on the outcome of the dispute, the court must, at the instance of the party submitting the document, determine that an enquiry be conducted by making comparisons, calling for specimens of writing and hearing witnesses as the case may be.
No contract, power of attorney, mandate or written instrument drawn up or signed in any place outside Qatar may be taken as proof in evidence unless it is acknowledged by both contracting parties before the court or duly endorsed by the notarial authorities and the competent political authorities in the country in which the documents concerned were drawn up or signed, and duly endorsed by whoever represents Qatar in that country and by the competent authorities in Qatar.
Rights of tenants
Q: My landlord has decided to sell his property for which we have paid rent for a full year until the end of November. He started showing his property to several people for three months now. He forcefully enters the premises. Is there a law to protect us tenants if we refuse agents coming to examine our property? We feel our privacy has been invaded. Where do we stand as we are worried about new buyers telling us to leave before our contract ends?
A: As per the Article No 597 of the Civil Law, the landlord shall not disturb the tenant or challenge his utilisation all the tenancy period and he is not allowed to make any change in the premises in a way that affects or prevents the tenant from its utilisation.
At the same time, the owner; whether old or new, is not allowed to eject the tenant from the premises before the contract expires as long as the tenant is paying the due rent amount. Thus, the tenant has the right to prevent anyone from entering the flat.
Q: Isn’t opening letters addressed to someone an offence? I have seen many times the company’s “mandoop” opening personal letters addressed to workers living in the camp, record their phone conversations, taking photos and threatening them that he will damage their career if money is not paid to him. Please advise.
A: According to Article 333 of the penal laws, an offender shall be liable for imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year imprisonment or / and fine not exceeding QR5,000 shall be the penalty for any person who intruding into people’s private life illegally and without their permission through opening a letter or telegram against the will of the addressee; or eavesdrop on a telephone conversation; or recording / transmitting conversations that took place in a private place or through any kind of apparatus; or taking or transmitting photos for an individual(s) in a public place through any kind of apparatus.
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LEGAL SYSTEM IN QATAR
An action on a warranty is prescribed in one year from the date of delivery of the thing sold, even if the purchaser discovers the defect after the expiration of this delay, unless the seller agrees to be bound by the warranty for a longer period. The seller, however, shall not avail himself of the prescription of one year if it is proved that he has fraudulently concealed the defects from the purchaser.
No warranty exists against defects in the case of a judicial sale or administrative sale by auction.
Under Article 464, if the thing sold does not have at the time of delivery the characteristics guaranteed by the seller to the purchaser, the purchaser may demand cancellation of the sale in addition to compensation or retain the thing sold while claiming compensation for the damage sustained because of the lack of such characteristics.
When a seller has warranted the proper working of the thing sold for an agreed period of time, the purchaser, in the case of a defect subsequently appearing in the thing sold, shall, for fear of forfeiture of his right to the warranty and subject to any agreement to the contrary, give notice to the seller within one month from the date of the appearance of the defect and commence an action within six months from the date of notification.
Subject to a clause or custom to the contrary, the price is payable at the time when the delivery of the thing sold is made. When the purchaser is disturbed in his enjoyment by a third party invoking a right existing prior to the sale or derived from the seller, or if he is in danger of being dispossessed of the thing sold, he may, subject to an agreement to the contrary, retain the price until the disturbance in his enjoyment or the danger of dispossession has ceased.
The seller may, however, in such case, demand payment of the price upon his supplying security. The same will apply if a defect is discovered in the thing sold.
According to Article 467 of the civil laws, the price shall be payable at the place where the delivery of the thing sold is made. If the price is not payable at the time of delivery of the thing sold payment must be made at the domicile of the purchaser on due date unless there is an agreement or custom that provides otherwise.
When the purchaser fails to pay the price when it becomes due or commits a breach of the other obligations arising from the sale contract, the seller shall have the option between applying for compelling the purchaser to perform such obligations or seek termination of the sale contract.