By Dr Nizar Kochery/Doha
Question: I am working in a limited liability company on a five-year employment contract. I understand from the recent news that I can leave the country without of the company owner’s permission. Please advise.
Answer: Law No 13 of 2018 has amended certain provisions of Law No 21 of 2015, and the employees are free to leave the country without exit permit. Article 7 of Law No 21 has been replaced with a provision which stipulates that an expatriate employee covered under Labour Law No 14 of 2004 has the right to temporarily exit the country, or for good, at any time during the duration of the employment contract without an exit permit upon effectiveness of the said law. However, subject to a maximum of 5% of the total number of employees, the employer may seek exemptions of certain category of employees from exiting the country without prior approval.
Law for in-camera proceedings
Q: There is a case against my sponsor and he received a notice asking him to appear before the court in connection with a criminal case. Being a member of a reputable family, he did not like to be there at court or attend public hearing. He did not attend the last session and the court issued a notice again. I came to know that if he refuses to attend again, the court may issue arrest order. Like other countries, does the law in Qatar allow the person to have in-camera procedure? Which provision in the law allows the same? Please advise.
A: Any party to the litigation can request before the court for in-camera proceedings. According to Article 187 of criminal procedure code, a court hearing is public, unless provided otherwise by the law or considered by the court or upon the request of any of the litigants that it should be a closed hearing to preserve the public order or with respect to the decency or the dignity of the family, and the court may organise the appearance in the hearing if necessary.
Destroying another person’s properties
Q: My colleague has filed a case against me alleging that I have destroyed some of his personal belongings. He has submitted some evidence in support of the complaint. Now the case is posted to hearing and I have received the hearing date. I was ready to compensate him for the losses. But he is not willing to accept it. So, in the worst case scenario, what will be the punishment for such an offence? Will it be penalty only? Please advise.
A: According to Article 389 of the Penal Law, whoever intentionally destroys or damages another person’s movable or immovable properties, or makes them unusable, invaluable, useless or invalid, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or with a fine not exceeding QR10,000 or both. Punishment shall be imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years if the offence is committed by a minimum of three people.
The legality of cutting salaries
Q: I am working in a contracting company in Doha as HR manager. Our management has decided to reduce the salary of the employees as we do not have enough ongoing projects to employ all staff. Can we cut the salary by a certain percentage for the period in which there is no work. What is the legality of such action? If it is not legal, how can we do it legally? What about the right of employees to receive their salaries in case the company has no projects? Please advise.
A: The employee should be paid in accordance with the terms agreed in the employment contract. Moreover, the employee is eligible to get paid if he attends workplace and he is willing to perform. According to Article 44 of the Labour Law, the employer shall undertake to enable the worker to perform the work and to provide him with all things necessary therefore, and if the worker attends the place of work and is willing to perform the work but could not do so for reasons beyond his control, he shall be considered to have actually done the work and be entitled to all the benefits. Therefore, the management decision cannot be implemented without amending the existing employment contracts with the consent of the employee.
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