In August 2020, the Government of Qatar adopted the following labour law reforms applying to the entire labour force and affecting mostly migrant workers:
- the introduction of a minimum wage of 1000 QAR for all workers in all sectors and all nationalities (adopted by Law 17 on 30 August 2020 and will be entered into force in March 2021).
- the possibility to change jobs before the end of the contract without first having to obtain a “no objection certificate” (NOC) from their employer (adopted by Law 18 on 30 August 2020 and it has already entered into force).
In addition, another important change in the legislation entered into force in January 2020 which removed the exit permit requirement for migrant workers wanting to exit Qatar, independently of the reason and duration of absence (started with the adoption of Law 13 on 4 September 2018.
These reforms are in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030, a governmental programme that provides a framework for developingnational strategies and implementation plans, including modernising the labour market and transitioning to a more skilled and productive workforce.
Overall, the reforms mentioned above end most elements of the “Kafala/sponsorship system”, a form of supervision, which limited the movement of migrant workers within and outside the country. This was the result of an intense work conducted by the Government of Qatar, together with employers’ and workers’ representatives and in close collaboration with the International Labour Organization, that established a project Office in Doha in 2018.
As part of the implementation plan, the Government, with the support of the ILO Office will:
- inform widely about the content of the reforms relating to the obligations and rights both for workers and employers;,
- develop an IT platform facilitating the change of employment;
- clarify the applicability of a non-competition clause in contracts by a Ministerial Decree, that in some cases would not allow workers to change employer within the same sector for one year;
- Enhance detection of violations, enact swifter penalties and further strengthen the capacity of inspectors to ensure compliance with the minimum wage.
Roberto Suárez Santos, Secretary-General of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), commented that “These reforms will make a major contribution to the efficiency and productivity of the Qatar labour market. IOE stands ready to support the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Government in supporting employers during this transition. Our congratulations to Qatar and its Chamber of Commerce!”