Qatar Labor Law is giving priority to Qatari citizens, while adapting an uptight sponsorship system to non-Qatari citizens. The Qatari Labor Law is assumed to have been partially conservative against its migrant workers. In line with the scheduled 2022 World Cup in Qatar, human rights advocate have now been examining the country’s recruitment and employment system, where 94% of their workforce is non-Qatari. “Building a Better World Cup: Protecting Migrant Workers,” a report by the Human Rights Watch covers apparent concerns over worker safety in the country’s construction industry and claims that discrepancies exist between the number of construction worker deaths reported by local embassies and the number reported by the government. Qatar has been urged to reform its labor laws for migrant workers ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
In Qatar, priority in employment is given to Qatari citizens. Section 10 of Chapter 2 of the Qatari Labor Law states that employers shall give the priority in hiring, to the highest extent possible, to nationals first, then to other Arab nationals next, whenever such workers are available. According to the same labor code, employers are not permitted to employ non-citizens or non-Arabs without making sure that no qualified nationals or Arabs are available and registered as unemployed in the employment office. Employers who wish to hire non-citizens or recruit workers from abroad are required to obtain permission from the government.
As per Qatar Labor Act No. 3 of 1962, Section 13, Chapter 2, Qatar work permit issued to non-citizens shall be valid for two years when issued for the first time, and may be renewed for the duration allowed by the residency permit. Upon the completion of the worker’s service, he must be given, without charge, a certificate stating the type of work he performed and the duration of his service and his last wages. He must also be given back any documents, certificates or tools he may have left with the employer. Nevertheless, non-citizens in Qatar are working in an uptight sponsorship system. Non-citizen employees of private companies may not work for anyone other than their Qatari sponsor, and their residence and employment permits depend on their sponsoring entity. In any case where a non-citizen employee wishes to transfer to another company, he/she must furnish a No-Objection Certificate or an NOC. Under the current Qatari labor and sponsorship laws, if a non-citizen employee wishes to leave their company, their employer holds the right to prohibit them from seeking employment elsewhere and may even require them to leave the country for a minimum of two years before they may re-enter to seek new sponsorship. However, Qatar has several governmental bodies that deal with issues regarding employment and sponsorship and advocate for the rights of all workers. Qatar’s Ministry of Labor’s Department of Labour Relations has legislation in place that allows workers to accommodate complaints, sue for damages and seek exemption from court fees should they have counterclaims with their employers.
In response to the 2022 World Cup demands, the Qatari government recently suggested it will replace the current sponsorship scheme with a system of contracts between employers and employees.