Changing Employers in Qatar? Here’s What You Should Know

With Qatar abolishing ‘Kafala’ system in December of last year and changing its regulations into contract-based system, many expats and workers attempted to change jobs knowing that they no longer needed to obtain their employers’ permission to transfer to another company at the end of their contract period.

With the previous automatic two-year ban to change jobs for foreign workers, they now have the option to transfer to another company should they want to.

What Kafala System States about Employees

Many expats deem the Kafala system to be abusive and strict with their contract trapping them in severe working conditions. Some employers even withhold salary and passport from their migrant employees.

Kafala or sponsorship system practiced in GCC nations states the following limitations for workers in Qatar, meaning the employees were not allowed to do the following:

  1. Change jobs without asking permission from ‘sponsor’ or ‘kafeel’
  2. Leave the country without the permission of the ‘kafeel’
  3. Decide to terminate the contract with his company
  4. Personally process residency permit without permission of the sponsor
  5. When the contract is breached, the worker, not the sponsor, is criminalized

Low-income employees often became victims to the old Kafala system. ©Alan Kotok/Flickr

It is reported that many employers take advantage of these stipulations, especially with low-income workers, that leave many of them frustrated and tied to their contracts.

The changes made on the system definitely provided a welcome relief to many foreign employees.

Process in Changing Jobs in Qatar

As per guidelines from the Hukoomi of Qatar, applications for the change of employer need to be submitted to the Committee for Looking into Incomers’ Applications affiliated to General Directorate for Border Passports and Expatriate at the Ministry of Interior.

You must have to complete the required condition before you submit your application. The following are the steps to change employers:

  1. Present a contract or job offer letter from the new employer to your current employer as a notice of your change of employment.
  2. Obtain a No Objection Certificate from your current employer.
  3. Get a police clearance from the embassy of your home country that has to be attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Qatar.

The above documents together with the copies of the following are needed to be submitted to the Criminal Evidences and Information Department.

  1. Filled-out application form for changing employer
  2. Company Registration of the current and new employer
  3. Contract from the new employer
  4. Residence Permit and passport

Employees in Qatar now have the freedom to find new employment under the new law. ©Gareth Saunders/Flickr

In cases when the employer terminated the contract, the employee will be given up to three months by MADLSA to find new employment.

Upon obtaining a new job, the employee will then be required to return to the ministry and provide the new employment contract. In the event that the expat failed to find a new job within the given period, he will then be asked to leave Qatar.

Important Points to Remember

Though employees now have more freedom to transfer and obtain employment from another company should they decide to, there are still conditions that they need to follow before doing so.

According to Hukoomi Portal, employees have to meet the following terms before they can request for a change of employer:

  • The expatriate shall complete the term of the employment contract inside the country or the employer may terminate the contract without any legal sanctions on the expatriate.
  • The expatriate shall complete five years or more with the same employer, in case the contract term is undefined.
  • If the term of the employment contract is undefined, the approval of the current employer on moving to work for another employer is required in case the expatriate is seeking to terminate the current contract without completing its term or the five years period.
  • The expatriate shall bring a contract from the new employer.

Corresponding Fees for the Services

As with most services provided by the government, the following fees are required. Again, as mandated by the Hukoomi of Qatar:

  • Changing the employer for first time: QR 2000 for companies, QR 1000 for individuals.
  • Changing the employer for second time: QR 2500 for companies, QR 1500 for individuals.
  • Changing the employer for third time or more: QR 3000 for companies, QR 2000 for individuals.