Qatar: COVID-19 measures
We set out below a summary of the current measures in place:
The government has mandated that companies implement working from home for 80% of its workforce and the remaining 20% of the workforce is only permitted to work between the hours of 7am-1pm for the next two weeks.
The Qatar Government has announced that it has set up a guarantee scheme for private sector employers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Through this scheme, employers who qualify are able to apply for finance to cover up to three months’ employee payroll obligations and up to three months of real estate rental fees. Conditions apply, including the requirement to be incorporated under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and not operating within the real estate, construction and contracting sectors.
Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) guidance
The MADLSA has published a note (Guidance Note) on their website, which provides that employers and employees are required to adhere to various conditions, including the following:
- All employees in isolation, quarantine or receiving treatment will still be paid their basic salary and receive their allowances irrespective of whether they are entitled to sick leave benefits. This is above the statutory minimum position in the Qatar Labour Law.
- Employers have the right to terminate employment contracts. However, the termination must be carried out in compliance with the Qatar Labour Law.
- Employers may mutually agree that workers may take unpaid leave or use their annual leave if the business has been halted and the worker is not assigned any work. However, employers must continue to provide all other benefits, including accommodations and food.
- If an employee is out of the country and unable to return to Qatar, the employer and the employee should discuss working conditions and benefits. The employee is entitled to refuse any adjustment to the contract. In case of termination of employment, this must be carried out in full compliance with the Qatar Labour Law.
The Guidance Note has been issued to assist workers, and whilst it does not formally amend the Qatar Labour Law, in the event of a complaint, it is likely that the MADLSA will apply the position set out in the Guidance Note.
All Qatar Visa Centres have been closed until further notice. Visas can be renewed online or at the airport. Foreign nationals whose residence permits have been cancelled may, subject to immigration approval, remain in Qatar for up to 90 days, as opposed to the usual 30 days after visa cancellation.
Employee complaints must be submitted online using the Amerni app; negotiations are to occur by telephone and the parties shall not be permitted to attend in person.
For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Qatar, please contact Sara Khoja (Partner) of Clyde & Co at sara.Khoja@clydeco.ae or visit www.clydeco.com.
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