Gulf State Labor Reforms – Qatar & UAE

Qatar and the UAE have recently announced a series of dramatic labor reforms. The new legislation will drastically improve employee rights by granting paternity leave in the UAE and raising the minimum wage and ending the requirement for migrant laborers to obtain permission to change jobs in Qatar.

The minimum wage in Qatar was raised by 250 riyals, increasing the amount to 1,000 riyals per month ($275). This is an increase of 25%. Also, if the employer does not provide adequate food or accommodations, they will be required to provide 500 riyals per month for accommodation expenses and 300 riyals per month for food.

The new minimum wage comes into effect in 6 months.

An employee now has the ability to change jobs without the need to obtain permission from their employer. An employee will now also be able to enter and exit the country without prior approval, however, employers have the right to identify a maximum of 5% of their workforce whose exit from Qatar will continue to require prior approval.

These changes are effective immediately.

Previously, the employer’s permission and a no-objection certificate (NOC) were required because of Qatar’s “kafala” system. This is a sponsor-based employment system that legally bound foreign workers to their employers and is still very common in other Gulf states. Qatar’s decision to dismantle the kafala system is to level out the current power imbalance between the employer and employee.

Stricter penalties for employers are also being put into place to hold employers accountable for failing to provide adequate accommodations or not paying their workers on time. These new measures are intended to boost the effectiveness of the Wage Protection System.

Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA) introduced these new set of laws to protect employers and employees and to address the negative accusations in regards to the exploitation of migrant workers. Many of these accusations have been revealed recently due to the labor efforts in preparation for the FIFA 2020 World Cup. Qatar currently has around 2.7 million people, with only 300,000 citizens of its own.

In the United Arab Emirates paid paternity leave in the private sector has been approved. Fathers will now be allowed to take 5 days of paid paternity leave within the first six months of the baby’s birth.

Previous to the new amendment, paternity leave was only required for fathers in the public sector. It is still unsure if public sector employers will remain at 3 days leave or will also be entitled to 5 days.

For more information about these and other countries see our CountryPedia.

See our cost of hiring infographic for a comparison of criteria including paid time off, employer taxes average monthly salary.