Marking a milestone in Qatar's efforts to protect the rights of domestic workers and improve their working conditions, His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani issued on Tuesday Law No 15 of 2017 on domestic workers.
One of the salient features of the new law is that it also ensures domestic workers end-of-service benefits which shall be a minimum of three weeks wages for each year of service.
The law targets natural persons doing domestic jobs under the administration and supervision of the employer, who is also a natural person. Such jobs include driver, nanny, cook, gardener and similar jobs within the same category that are performed by the worker in the service of his employer and those living with him.
The law includes 24 articles and takes into consideration the Labour Law issued by Law No 14 of 2004 and its amendments, and Law No 21 of 2015 regulating the entry and exit of expatriates and their residence, modified by Law No 1 of 2017, in addition to the civil and commercial procedure law issued by Law No 13 of 1990 and its amendments.
The law stipulates that the regulations for recruiting domestic workers, and their medical checkups and residency permit are governed by the stipulations of Law No 21 of 2015, in a way that does not conflict with this Law No 15 of 2017.
According to the new law, it is not possible to hire domestic workers without a written contract, approved by the department concerned at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA). There should be three copies of the contract, one each for both the parties and the third copy to be filed at the department concerned.
The contract shall be written in Arabic and it can be accompanied with a translation in another language. However, the Arabic text is considered the main text in the event of litigation. Besides the basic information, the contract shall specify the nature and type of the targeted work, the agreed wages and the way and date of payment, and the duration of the contract and the condition for its renewal and termination, in addition to any other data and stipulations included in the law.
The recruitment process shall be done through an authorised recruitment agency in accordance with the stipulations of the law. However, the employer or his delegate can recruit workers from abroad on his own after taking the permission of the MADLSA department concerned.
The minimum age for recruiting and hiring domestic workers, whether males or females, is 18 and the maximum is 60. The Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs or his delegate can give exemption from the maximum age limit.
The worker shall be subject to a paid probation period, the duration of which and regulation is determined by a decision of the Minister.
Under the law, the duties of the employer towards the worker include providing him with the adequate accommodation, clothing and medical care free of charge, to treat him with good manners, preserving his dignity and maintaining his physical safety, and ensuring no harm happens to him, whether physical or psychological.
The employer shall not engage the worker in any work during his sick leave. Similarly, the worker should not be engaged in work during his weekly off or daily rest hours unless there is a mutual agreement between the two parties.
The employer shall abide by paying the worker the agreed monthly salary in Qatari currency at the end of each calendar month, not later than the third day of the following month.
The employer shall not be absolved of such obligation unless there is proof that salary was deposited in the bank account of the worker or handed to him in cash with receipt signed by him indicating that he received his full salary. Besides, the employer shall not deduct from the worker's salary any fees, charges or expenses towards the recruitment.