Important Guide for Domestic Workers and their Employers Based on Qatar Law
You might be aware that a kadama, helper, and domestic or household worker is being hired in Qatar to assist individuals and families for housekeeping and other household chores. But, little did you know that there are more rules and regulations set by the State of Qatar between domestic workers and their employers.
Here is a helpful guide to employing a migrant domestic worker in Qatar that would help the public understand Qatar's Labour Law for Domestic Workers. The guidelines are from a booklet developed in collaboration with Migrant-Rights.org, with the support from the International Labour Organization. You can download a soft copy of the booklet here.
Before You Employ
How can I hire the right domestic worker for me and my family?
Making a match between your expectations and the domestic worker’s skills and personality is crucial to ensure that you are hiring the right person for the job.
Before You Decide to Hire:
• Check if the country you are hiring from has a Qatar Visa Center (www.qatarvisacenter.com) to know whether you should follow the process listed therein.
• Ensure that you have one or more video or telephone calls with the potential employee.
• Speak to your family members about your decision and ensure that they are on board.
• Make a list of the primary tasks you expect her/him to perform and the skills she/he will need to carry out these tasks.
• Consider the plans for when you are on vacation.
- Will the worker accompany you?
- Do you have his/her permission if so?
- Will she/he be housed with a trusted friend or family?
- How will that be managed?
- Will she/he stay at your place?
Understand that making the match does not end with his/her arrival, but continues throughout the settlement and training process.
You must therefore:
• Periodically discuss the task list and how you wish the tasks to be performed.
• Take time to train and give time to learn.
What is the cost of hiring a migrant domestic worker?
The cost of employing a migrant domestic worker begins before he/she arrives, and continues throughout the duration of his/her employment, until he/she returns to his/her country.
- Recruitment Fees*
- Pre-departure expenses (eg: medical examination, police clearance, air fare)
- Cost of Residency permit/Iqama
- Cost of housing and food
- Health Insurance
- End of Service benefits as per the Qatar Domestic Workers Law
- Return ticket at the end of contract, or home vacation every two years
- Determine whether monthly expenses such as toiletries, clothing, phone cards, are included in the worker'ssalary or will be provided in-kind.
*The Domestic Worker Law mandates that migrant domestic workers must be recruited through recruitment agencies licensed under Qatar's Labour Law. An employer may also recruit domestic workers directly from abroad with the approval of the Ministry of Administrative Development,Labour and Social Affairs.
*It is illegal to deduct any fees, expenses or commissions from a worker’s wage in return for the procedures of recruitment from abroad.
Fostering Healthy Working Conditions in Your Home
What is a reasonable accommodation for the domestic worker?
If you have a worker’s quarters, ensure that the quarters are sanitary and that the door can be locked. If you have decided to provide him/her with a separate room within your residence, it is important to make arrangements that respect his/her privacy and the privacy of your family.
If the only available option is shared accommodation (i.e. sharing a room with another worker), ensure that his/her space is separated with a curtain or partition to facilitate the privacy of each person.
He/she should also have a cupboard or drawers that he/she can lock, to keep safe his/her personal effects and documents.
Making sure that the worker’s accommodation – equipped with a bed, bedding, and lockable storage space – is ready before his/her arrival will help her/him settle into life better.
Is it necessary to have a contract with the migrant domestic worker? What must the contract include?
Yes, a standard contract of employment is legally required. In Qatar, a domestic worker can be hired only through a written contract, approved by the Ministry of Administrative [Law No . 15 of 2017]
According to the domestic worker’s law, the core elements in this contract include (but are not limited to) the nature and type of work, the wages agreed upon between the parties, normal working hours and rest period, the method and date of payment of wages, duration of contract, and conditions for renewal and termination of the contract.
A solid contract reflects the expectations of the employer, the rights and responsibilities of both parties, and sets clear boundaries for the employment relationship.
A contract has little value if not comprehensively understood by the parties to the contract. Avoid ambiguous language and ensure that the contract is explained clearly to the worker.
Is there a limit to a domestic worker’s daily working hours and how do I calculate daily and weekly working hours?
According to Article 13 and 12 of Law No. 15 of 2017, working hours cannot exceed 10 hours a day. During this period the worker is entitled to breaks for worship, rest and food, and such break periods should not enter into the calculation of the hours of work. The Standard Contract for Domestic Workers mentions that the work day is divided into 8 regular hours and a possible 2 additional overtime hours.
- He/she is also entitled to 24 continuous hours of rest per week.
- His/her work week cannot total more than 60 hours.
- Implementing a strict 10 hours per day rule may not appear practical at first, as all homes are susceptible to unexpected needs, but it is achievable with mindful planning and proper scheduling. Foster a healthy work environment in your home by ensuring that the worker does not work for over 5 - 4 periods during the work day, night and week.
Periods during which domestic workers are not free to dispose of their time as they wish and remain at the disposal of the household in order to respond to possible calls should be regarded as hours of work.
Introduce the worker to a timesheet – an easy-to-record chart with start and end times for daily tasks. Keeping a record of the hours she works will help you both be conscious of his/her working hours.
What is a reasonable wage for a migrant domestic worker? How should I pay his/her salary?
The temporary monthly minimum basic wage for all workers in Qatar is QAR 750 in addition to accommodation and food.
The employer therefore, is obliged to determine his/her salary responsibly. Employers should be aware that some countries mandate a minimum wage through bilateral agreements with the State of Qatar.
A domestic worker from the Philippines for example, is entitled to a minimum USD 400/QAR 1460 monthly wage.
Discuss with the worker how he/she would like to be paid. By law, an employer is not considered as having met his/her duties unless they prove that they have deposited the worker’s wage in his/her bank account, or handed him/her the wage incash, by virtue of a receipt signed by the worker, which confirms his/her receipt of the wage in full.
Employers are prohibited from deducting any fees, expenses or commissions from a worker’s wage in return for the procedures
of recruitment from abroad.
Workers are also entitled to end of service benefits – a minimum of three weeks wages for each year of service when their contract ends.
In determining wages, remember that a well-remunerated worker is likely to work more efficiently, be happier, and contribute towards a harmonious home.
Discuss with the worker how he/she would like to be paid. By law, an employer is not considered as having met his/her duties unless they prove that they have deposited the worker’s wage in his/her bank account, or handed him/her the wage in cash, by virtue of a receipt signed by the worker, which confirms his/her receipt of the wage in full.
Employers are prohibited from deducting any fees, expenses or commissions from a worker’s wage in return for the procedures of recruitment from abroad. Workers are also entitled to end of service benefits – a minimum of three weeks wages for each year of service when their contract ends.
What is a reasonable job scope or tasks to assign to the migrant domestic worker?
A reasonable job scope consists of tasks a worker can carry out on his/her own without undue physical or psychological stress, and which the worker is skilled or experienced enough to do. By law, an employer cannot task a worker with work that may endanger their life or safety.
Create a clear task list in the worker's language.
It maybe easier to break his/her tasks down to daily, weekly and monthly tasks. If he/she is unable to read or write, you may communicate his/her tasks pictorially.
Migrant domestic workers do not usually have a complete and extensive training before departure. Be prepared to teach, supervise and manage his/her work as he/she adjusts to your home's preferences.
What is sufficient food for a domestic worker? Should I ask him/her to cook his/her meals separately?
Some workers may prefer to cook their food separately, especially if there are cultural and/or religious dierences between the worker and employer. If this is the case, you must provide him/her with ingredients regularly, in addition to facilitating other requirements necessitated by this arrangement, such as time to prepare his/her meals.
Alternatively, you may give him/her a sucient food allowance or ask him/her to join family meals.
It is important to recognize that the worker has a right to refuse to handle certain types of food based on his/her cultural religious preferences.
Is a domestic worker entitled to a day off and breaks during the day?
A proper rest day is one that gives the employee a complete emotional and physical break from his/her work like. Being well rested will hel p him/her to stay physically It a nd value the work he/she performs for you.
Domestic workers are entitled to have suitable periods of rest during the working day, which allow for meals, rest and prayers in line with the general direction of the law to “preserve the dignity” of workers.
A weekly rest day of 24 continuous hours is also a right of the worker.
Decide on the day with his/her input, taking into account his/ her work exigencies, cultural, religious and social preferences. IN be/she works on his/leer day of, he/she is entitled to additional remuneration or to have a compensatory day oP in lieu.
While the manner in which a worker should dispose of his/ her rest day is not mentioned in the law, be/she may ask to go out with friends or stay indoors. Regardless of how he/she chooses to spend his/her day of, ensuring his/her safety and informing him/her about cultural/legal boundaries in Qatar is your responsibility.
What are some other basic rights and duties I must be aware of?
It is illegal to retain the travel documents of any worker. If he/ she chooses to leave it with you for safekeeping it is imperative that you do so only with written approval from him/her.
Confiscation of travel documents entails a fine of QAR 10,000 to QAR 25,000 by Law No. 2015/21.
His/Her medical expenses are your responsibility (Law No. 15 of 2017).
These expenses should not be deducted from his/her salary. You must ensure that he/she has access to medical care and bear the full cost of it, including hospitalization.
*A health card can be obtained from the nearest Primary Health Care Centre/PHCC at QAR 100.
During the probation period, you have the right to terminate the employment contract with your domestic worker if he/she is unable to perform the work agreed upon in the employment contract.
The probation period must be agreed with your domestic worker and indicated in the employment contract prior to starting work. The probation period cannot be more than three months starting from the first day of his/her work.
Domestic workers no longer need an exit permit to leave Qatar. He/She should however, inform you about his/her plans to leave the country at least 72 hours in advance. This can be done either verbally or in writing.
Building a Mutually Beneficial Working Relationship and a Happy Home
How should I address the domestic worker?
When you welcome a domestic worker into your home, you are in effect welcoming a stranger into your most private space.
In such a relationship, even the seemingly small things count. How you and your family (especially children) address him/her will have an impact on the relationship.
Opting out of terms like khidamat, maid or servant when addressing or referring to him/her, and choosing instead to call him/her by his/her name, will contribute to a better relationship.
Legal terms used to identify domestic workers differ from country to country. In the Philippines, they are known as “Household Service Worker (HSW)”, in India— as “Domestic Service Worker (DEW)” while international laws governing the rights of these workers often refer to them as “foreign or migrant domestic worker”.
Should I allow the domestic worker to have and use a phone?
Both new and returning migrant workers often face the hard reality of losing the support of family and community.
Being in contact with family and friends will give him/her the emotional security he/she needs to address issues of loneliness and isolation. A phone, then, is an important tool in the well being of a migrant domestic worker.
Some employers are concerned that phones may be a distraction from work.
If so, ensure that you communicate rules of phone use, and follow up these rules with reminders. For example, that he/ she may use the phone only during his/her break times. If you are concerned about maintaining privacy for your residence or family, then you can provide/allow a regular phone instead of a smart phone.
Regardless of how you choose to deal with this issue, it is vital that you inform him/her about the boundaries and guidelines of phone use.
How do I ensure that the domestic worker maintains the boundaries I expect him/her to maintain with my children?
Preparation and communication are key. Recognize that both the worker and the children have a role to play in this matter.
Before you decide to employ, make sure that your family is ready to have a domestic worker living in your home. When he/she arrives, speak to your children about the way they should treat him/her, and his/her role in the house. Ensure that your family and especially children are aware of and respect his/her rest times and day off.
Clearly articulate rules you expect him/her to follow with regards to your family and follow them up with reminders.
Also check with your domestic worker to make sure that all members of the family including children as well as other domestic workers are treating them well.
What can I do to help him/her feel at home but also ensure that he/she understands that he/she is here to do a job?
In addition to the tips and guidelines above you must,
• Encourage communication
• Appraise the work he/she does, this will help him/her to develop the mindset of an employee
• Give him/her instructions clearly and give him/her time to learn
• Inform him/her about the laws governing domestic workers in Qatar
• Be informed about his/her culture, values and lifestyle.
• Explain under what circumstances he/she may be repatriated