Before accepting a job offer in Qatar, ensure that you get a copy of the employment contract, as you are bound to meet the terms on the written contract. On the other hand, it is also possible that you may not receive what you expect in case it is not included in the contract. Therefore, you will have to study every detail mentioned in the contract and negotiate the details.
On being offered a job, in almost all cases, you can sign a contract or even a letter of agreement. Although you may be given an English copy of the contract, it will also be written in Arabic. In case of any dispute, it is the Arabic version that will have better hold on the contract. Moreover, the contract should be attested by the labour department. A copy of the contract will also be maintained by the labour department.
All details and benefits that go with your position, including salary and payment method and date, validity of the contract, reporting structure, performance measures, required notice of intent for termination of contract from either side, and liabilities if any in case of breaking the contract, should be mentioned on the contract.
The employment contract will also contain the terms of employment, and detailed job description, indicating job responsibilities and performance standards. Once in Qatar, you can get this document formalized with an official ministry version in Arabic, or get attested by a notary.
It is important to note that local labour laws will remain valid, as long as you are in Qatar, irrespective of whether you sign a contract or not.
An employment contract from a company is more valid than basic labour laws, wherein the details stipulated are more than legal requirements. But you will still be protected by the basic laws.
Majority of expatriate contracts signed were for two years initially, but, it is getting more common for contracts to be open-ended. The employers find it easier, as they can keep it to a defined period in case the employee proves unsatisfactory, and most contracts now have termination notice period of one to three months, or payment in lieu of notice. The contracts can also be renewed with mutual consent frequently, in case all parties are happy to continue with things as they are. In fact, there are several expatriates working in Qatar for more than 20 years.
In Qatar, certain jobs are reserved only for nationals, particularly in the service industries. Therefore, there are instances wherein, the job title mentioned in the contract will be different from what you would expect, but, the official version on the work visa is quite different, owing to full job quotas or for other reasons.
The general rule is that the employee will be given three written warnings detailing his/her failings or shortcomings prior to dismissal. In case the employee violates the law, there are chances of an immediate dismissal. Else, if the employee is caught in a serious offence involving police attention, or, if found guilty of drunken driving, chances of redundancy are high. But, any employee will not be demoted when on a leave or out of the country.
On making the employee redundant, the termination clause in the contract gets effective. But, in case the employer feels that your work deserves more, he might enhance the offer.
It is best if expatriates avoid legal tussles as much as possible, as it is time consuming and can lead to many difficulties. Every state has its own labour laws, and it is best to be aware about labour laws in Qatar. An English version of the same can be obtained from the Ministry.
Changing jobs in Qatar
Earlier, the employers used to recruit workers on a fixed period of contract, generally for two years, and thereafter, the contract could be renewed as per mutual consent. But, the employers felt that this didn't work to their advantage, as the employee would later move on when a competitor offers new contract.
Therefore, today contracts are open-ended, and have few clauses to protect employer, such as the six-month period prior to granting new work visa for a particular worker. This implies that the worker should leave the country for six months before re-applying for a visa.
But, there are ways to get around with this too. An employee can transfer to a new employer, if his original sponsor provides him with a no-objection certificate. But, the change may not be very simple. The employee should be prepared to face several checks. Further, to gain full support of new employer, it is best to leave the country and return as per the new agreement.
Before signing the contract, read the document carefully and check if details pertaining to salary, accommodation, education, medical benefits, length of vacation and air-tickets are as discussed. Else, once you sign the contract, it is difficult to negotiate on something new. But, once it is mentioned in the contract, the Qatar law ensures that the employer fulfils his obligations in the contract.