In separate developments, Qatar has taken two steps that will extend employment rights and access to justice for claimants.
Mandatory Pre-court Process in Resolution of Employment Disputes
In a move aimed at increasing access to justice and seen as likely to increase the number of employment claims, the government has introduced a draft law establishing a new Labor Dispute Resolution Committee (LDRC). Once the new law comes into effect, the LDRC process will be a mandatory pre-court procedure for all employment law disputes, whether arising out of Qatari labor law or an employment contract.
Once the draft law comes into force, it is expected that the LDRC process will:
- simplify employment disputes by providing a specialized body equipped to deal with employment disputes; and
- offer speedier resolution of employment disputes compared to the usually lengthy process in the Qatari courts.
The creation of the LDRC follows a trend across a number of countries that are making it easier for “ordinary people” to access justice for employment law disputes. Most commentators believe it will result in more claims being brought to enforce employment rights.
New Domestic Staff Law
Qatar’s Law No. 15 of 2017 on the Domestic Labor came into effect in late 2017, with an initial six-month grace period giving employers time to comply. For the first time, this will bring domestic workers—i.e., cleaners, nannies, and others who work in their employer’s private residence—employment law protection. Previously, domestic workers fell outside of the scope of Qatari labor law. The new law provides for minimum terms applicable to domestic workers in areas such as maximum hours of work, weekly rest periods, annual leave entitlement, end-of-service gratuity entitlement, and an entitlement to one return air ticket to the worker’s country of origin (or place of residence) for every two years of service.
While this law is unlikely to affect corporate employers directly, employees within companies that hire domestic staff will be affected by the new law as they will become employers themselves under the new law.
Written by Kamaljit Dosanjh of Al Tamimi & Co. and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins