Earlier this year, press coverage speculated on the content of the proposed amendments to Qatar Law No.14 of 2004, Labour Law. It is believed that the amendments will materially change the underlying legal and regulatory framework.
Given that the Labour Law governs the employment of the majority of expatriate employees in Qatar, the amendments and the date on which they will be issued and/ or become effective, has generated a great deal of interest, both internationally, in the context of the World Athletics Championships 2019 and 2022 FIFA World Cup being hosted in Qatar, and locally as employers and employees wait to see how the amendments will impact on them.
The latest amendment to the Labour Law (under Law No.1 of 2015) has recently been made, to provide payment protection for workers. This new provision should ensure transparency and the timely payment of salaries. This system will be similar to the workers’ protection scheme in Abu Dhabi.
The new obligation
Employers will now be required to electronically transfer workers’ salaries, paid in the Qatari currency, into a Qatar bank account
Employers are required to put procedures in place to ensure that they comply with the new obligations within six months of the date the law comes into force. However, it is not clear exactly when this is. The law is dated 18 February 2015 but did not appear in the Official Gazette until April 2015, and the enforcement date is not expressly stated in the legislation.
So as a matter of caution, we would advise employers to take the six month period as commencing on 8 February 2015. Given that six months may not be long enough to put the necessary measures in place, however, the Minister may permit employers an extension of time to comply with this new requirement.
The penalty for non-compliance may be:
- Imprisonment for up to one month
- A fine of QAR 2,000-3,000
For an imprisonment penalty to be issued, an individual, usually the general manager or an authorised signatory of the employer, would need to be joined as a party to the claim.
Any unpaid employees will be entitled to bring a claim.
Note: Qatari laws (save for those issued by the Qatar Financial Centre to regulate internal business) are issued in Arabic and there are no official translations, therefore for the purpose of drafting this advice we have used our own translations and interpreted the same in the context of Qatari regulation and current market practice.