* Exit procedures going on smoothly at HIA
* Diplomats, ILO welcome move
A new law that allows expatriate workers covered under the Labour Law to leave the country without an exit permit came into effect yesterday.
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had issued in September Law No 13 of 2018, amending certain provisions of Law No 21 of 2015 regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates.
As per the amendment, Article 7 of Law No 21 of 2015 has been replaced with a provision which stipulates that an expatriate worker covered under Labour Law No 14 for 2004 has the right to temporarily exit the country, or for good, at any time throughout the duration of his/her employment contract without an exit permit.
The International Labour Organisation as well as a number of diplomats in the country, representing different countries, welcomed the move.
The official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported that the Ministry of Interior (MoI) yesterday started applying the amendment to Article No 7 "concerning the cancellation of the travel permit notice of Law No 21 of 2015 regarding the entry and exit of expatriates and their residence".
Airport Passports Department director Col Mohamed Rashid al-Mazroui confirmed that the MoI, in the framework of facilitating procedures and travel through the country's ports, started applying the amended law regarding the cancellation of the travel permit notice in the early hours yesterday.
He said these measures came in implementation and application of the recent amendments to Law No 21 of 2015, stipulating that expatriates working under the said Labour Law shall have the right to leave the country temporarily or for good during the validity of the employment contract.
An employer has the right to submit in advance to the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) a list of employees that he deems necessary to obtain his pre-approval before leaving the country due to the nature of their work. The percentage of such workers shall not exceed 5% of the total number of employees.
He noted that entry and exit movements through Hamad International Airport (HIA) was proceeding normally with all the facilities provided to ensure smooth movement at passport counters and through the electronic gates at HIA - where the department has introduced amendments to the system of exit for residents working in companies in the country.
The official added that the new amendments to the law enable workers to leave without obtaining a travel permit, except in case the worker is wanted by judicial or security authorities.
He urged all passengers to arrive at the airport for departure with sufficient time in hand to finalise airline and passport procedures.
In a post on Twitter, the MoI said "expatriate workers who are unable to leave the country for any reason can approach the Expatriate Exit Grievance Committee, which will look into the complaint and take a decision within three working days".
On its part, the MADLSA tweeted that "Law No 13 of 2018 was enforced today (Sunday). It cancels exit permits for private sector employees. Exit procedures went across all country’s ports smoothly & naturally".
Great news, says ILO
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Project Office for Qatar yesterday welcomed the implementation of the new law on exit permits. "Great news! As of today, exit visas no longer needed for the majority of workers in Qatar," it tweeted.
"As of October 28, the majority of workers covered by the labour code in Qatar will no longer require an exit permit. This will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of migrant workers in Qatar," Houtan Homayounpour, head of the ILO Project Office, said in a video message on Twitter.
"We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the government, employers, workers and other stakeholders on moving forward with the ambitious labour reform agenda of Qatar," he added.