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.
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 previous employer and allows the person to find a new job and a new sponsor.
When a non-citizen employee leaves a job from his Qatari sponsor company, he has to get a No-Objection Certificate from his previous employer. This means that the old employer does not have objections if the person went out and found another job. The No-Objection Certificate should include the sponsor signature on the company letter head with seal stating that they have no objection in the employee’s purpose.
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. With this law, the No-Objection Certificate is issued at the discretion of the employer and as of yet is not always a common occurrence in Qatar. As there are no legal supporting stipulations requiring the issuance of a No-Objection Certificate, most companies in Qatar do not issue the certificate. Employees either continue working at the company against their will until the prescribed period of employment, or leave the job and face the two-year work ban. The work ban is imposed on the foreigner by the Ministry of Labor of Qatar. During the time of the ban the individual is not allowed to work in Qatar and must leave the country. During the duration of the two year ban, they may not re-enter Qatar on any type of visitor visa, not even for the purpose of tourism. Also, most Qatar employers used to recruit workers on a fixed period of contract, generally for two years. For this reason, many companies in Qatar decline to issue an NOC. Most contracts are renewed as per mutual consent. Those who refuse to continue their contracts in less than the prescribed period of employment are forced to return to their countries and serve a two-year work ban in Qatar.
Thus, non-citizen employees should know their rights in Qatar. First and foremost, they have to learn every detail of their employment contracts and know how they should be able to deliver performance and abide by the stringent sponsorship law. 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 a dispute with their employer.