Expatriate workers can change jobs with government permission, either after the expiry of their contracts or after five years of service with their recruiter in case of open-ended contracts, the new law that regulates Expatriates Entry, Departure and Residence, issued on Tuesday, said.
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani issued Law Number 21 of 2015 which abolishes the stipulations of Law Number 4 of 2009 regarding Regulation of the Expatriates Entry, Departure, Residence and Sponsorship.
The recruiter has been absolved of all the legal liabilities that applied to the sponsor in the old law. In place of the word sponsor in the old law, the new law uses the term "recruiter" to specify the employer.
The new law shall come into force one year after its publication in the official gazette.
For changing of jobs before the expiry of contract, Article 20 says that the expatriate worker has to get the approval of the employer, the department concerned at the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Once the contract period is over, the worker may take up a job with another employer with the approval of the departments concerned.
In case of litigation between the worker and his recruiter, Article 22 stipulates that the Minister of Interior or his deputy may approve the temporary transfer of the expatriate worker to another employer after getting the approval of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Also, the Minister of Interior may allow the expatriate worker to move to another employer in case the recruiter abused his rights.
The department concerned at the Ministry of Interior has to be informed about an expatriate’s intention to leave the country at least three working days before the exit date, according to Article 7 of the new law. This request can be made either by the recruiter or the employee himself.
In case of any objection to the exit of the worker by the recruiter or the department concerned, the expatriate can approach the exit petitions committee. The Minister of Interior shall issue a decision to form such a committee and specify its jurisdictions and the procedures to be followed by it, in addition to its mechanism of work.
However, the worker may exit the country as soon as the recruiter informs the department concerned about his approval of the request. In case of an emergency for the worker, the petitions committee shall take a decision on his exit request within three working days.
Article number 12 stipulates that the department concerned at the Ministry of Interior shall grant residence permits for the spouse, undergraduate sons of up to 25 years and unmarried daughters of the expatriate worker. However, the age condition may be exempted by the Minister of Interior or his deputy.
Also, the expatriate worker can be granted a residence permit for his parents by the Minister of Interior or whom he may delegate, when such a request is justified.
According to Article number 14, expatriate workers shall not stay outside the country for more than six months continuously unless they secure the permission to return to the country before the passage of one year. But, the worker has to return within 60 days of the expiry of his residence permit. The Minister of Interior or his deputy may overlook such designated periods.
Article 19 states that the recruiter shall notify the department concerned within 14 days about an expatriate worker who has quit employment or his refusal to leave the country after the expiry or cancellation of his residence permit or visit visa.
Article 17 specifies those responsible for the residency of expatriate as follows: the employer for the expatriate worker; the family head for his family members in the country, the host for those on visit visa; and the entities concerned in the country for any foreigner coming to the country for other purposes.
If a foreign worker is fired as a punitive measure and he did not appeal his dismissal or his plea was rejected by a court, Article 26 says he shall not be permitted to come back to Qatar before the passage of four years. Also, an expatriate worker repatriated upon a court verdict cannot come back unless he got the approval of the Minister of Interior.
The law does not mention anything about the prevailing two-year ban on a worker who leaves the country after resigning his job or at the end of his contract.
Stringent provisions to check employers fraudulent practices
There are stringent provisions in the new law to punish recruiters who let their employees work for other employers without approval of the department concerned. According to Article 38, such recruiters shall get a jail term of no more than three years and a fine not exceeding QR500,000 or any of the two. The same applies for the employers who hire, without proper authorisation, expatriate workers not recruited by them. However, such cases can be reconciled with the violator paying a fine of QR12,000, subject to the approval of the Minister of Interior or his deputy.