QATAR NOC – Update
- Previously, non-citizens in Qatar were working in an uptight sponsorship system. Noncitizen employees of private companies could not work for anyone other than their Qatari sponsor, and their residence and employment permits depended on their sponsoring entity. If a noncitizen employee wished to transfer to another company, he/she had to furnish a No-Objection Certificate or an NOC.
- A No-Objection Certificate (NOC) is a note of clearance that states that the previous employer does not have any objections of the employee finding another job or another company. The No-Objection Certificate frees the employee from any obligations towards the former employer and allows the person to find a new job and a new sponsor.
- When a noncitizen employee left a job from his Qatari sponsor company, he had to get a No-Objection Certificate from his previous employer. The issuance of the NOC meant that the old employer did not have objections if the person went out and found another job. The No-Objection Certificate should include the sponsor signature on the company letterhead with a seal, stating that they have no objection to the employee’s new pursuits.
- Most companies were not ready to issue the NOC. As a result, employees were forced to either hang on until the end of their contracts or leave the job and face a two-year work ban. During the period of this ban, the foreigner would not be able to enter Qatar or any visa, including tourism and visitor visas.
- With effect from 13 December 2016, a new Labor law regulating entry, exit and residency of foreigners came into force. This new law makes the working conditions for foreigners in Qatar friendlier and easier.
The main benefits of this new labor law are as follows:
- All expatriates in Qatar will now be employed on a contract basis. The previous system where employees would need to be sponsored by the employer has been abolished.
- The signing of contracts is now done after the employee has arrived in Qatar. Signing happens after the employer has agreed to hire the worker, and has processed his or her entry visa. If the employee, however, refuses to sign the contract, he or she must leave the country.
- Expatriate workers who terminate their job contracts before completion and leave the country after that will not be permitted to return to Qatar until the contract period is over.
- Once an expatriate completes a contract and leaves the country, he or she can return the next day on receipt of another job offer. Workers are free to go back to Qatar immediately without any ban, subject to approval from the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MLSA).
- Employers do not have to make new contracts for their employees if they are willing to continue with the same job. It is however recommended that employers issue new employment contracts to their employees.
- The period after which an expatriate worker will be permitted to change jobs by the new law will be counted from the date of signing the new employment contract.
- The maximum contract period has now been set at five years. Expatriate workers are thus allowed to change jobs after five years if their contracts are open-ended, subject to approval from the MOI and MLSA.
- If an expatriate worker is fired as a punitive measure, and he does not appeal this decision, or his appeal is rejected by a court, he will not be allowed to return to Qatar for four years.
- Those employees who have valid contracts and want to change jobs will require an NOC.
- The new Labor laws also apply to domestic workers.
- An expatriate worker who quits his job or travels overseas can return to Qatar immediately if he or she lands a new job, subject to MOI and MLSA approval.
- An expatriate can move to another employer before the completion of the contract period if the company ceases to exist for any given reason. Approval from MOI and MLSA is however required.