Despite abolition Kafala still plays on the minds of workers

  • 1 year ago
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The Kafala system remained a sore spot for Qatar for quite a long time and Qatar had to be at the receiving end of scathing criticism because of it many times. The authorities promised to remove and they delivered in December 2016. The much-awaited new labour law was implemented throughout the country with immediate effect. "Qatar remains thoroughly committed to the establishment of a labour system, which is fair everyone; both the employer as well as the employee. The legislative changes are an ongoing effort to systematically reform the labour system across the spectrum such that workers' rights are protected. The Government will continue to review and adapt the laws of the country in order meet the requirements of the reform", the Government Communications Office had said on the day of the abolishment. 

One of the most important reforms of the new law is that under the new law, expats are no longer required to seek approval from their existing employers to change jobs if they have already completed the length of a fixed-contract. All they need to do is to provide a written notice to their employer before the contract expires, informing their employer of their intention to change jobs at the end of their contract. The notice period depends on the terms and conditions in the contract signed by each employee.

Similarly, expats in open-ended contracts will also be able to change jobs without their existing employer’s permission, provided they have completed a five-year service period. Expat workers in open-ended contracts must provide a written notice to their employer prior to changing the job.

Finally, any expat who wishes to change his or her job will need to get an approval from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs (MADSLA) prior to taking up their new employment.


To make matters even more convenient for expat workers, MADSLA recently introduced an e-service where the process of job change can be initiated. The prerequisites for successfully changing the job and how process works are as follows: 

  • Conditions such as nationality, gender and profession are no longer among requirements for job change approval. Expats were allowed to change jobs only if the new employer had an approval for the position with the same nationality, gender and profession. This clause has now been removed by the Ministry.

  • For the job change to be approved there must be no restrictions against the new employer that would stop the change

  • Workers looking to change jobs must submit a notice to the existing employer 30 days prior to the end day of the contract, in case of a fixed contract.

  • The notice period for open-ended contract is slightly larger

o 30 days, if the contract duration is 5 years

o 60 days, if the contract duration is more than 5 years. 

  • The expat must attach a signed and scanned copy of the notice form with the job change application. 

Expats wishing to avail the service must visit the link named Employer Change / Leave Country, Worker Notice E-Serviceon Ministry’s website. The applicants can use the service by entering their Qatar ID and mobile number, following which a pin number is sent to the mobile number of the expat. Once the expat enters this PIN number on the site, he/she can see all personal information like occupation, age and employers’ information listed on the site. 

The authorities have also undertaken many awareness campaigns to make workers aware of their rights under the new law, however, the psychological impact of Kafala is yet to be over. 

Every single day one can find hundreds of comments on the social media from workers asking whether they can change jobs or not when the new law has in very clear terms stated that workers can change their jobs subject to a few conditions. 

The reasons for this can be either workers are not aware of their rights or there still is a psychological impact of the Kafala system at the back of their minds. The former seems unlikely since many campaigns have been undertaken to make workers aware not only by Qatari authorities but also by the embassies of different countries in Qatar. 

So, it seems that workers aren’t sure whether they really can change their jobs or not without seeking permission from their respective employers. 

Well, let us reiterate that, yes you can change your job without your employer’s permission. 

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