As mentioned in previous articles Qatar has been implementing numerous legislative changes aimed at attracting foreign investment and improving the treatment of expatriate workers in the country. On October 31, 2018 the Amir, H H Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, issued two significant pieces of new legislation.
The first law, Law No. 16 of 2018, regulates the ownership of property in Qatar by non-Qataris (i.e. expatriates) (“Foreign Property Ownership Law”). Although expatriates were previously permitted to own real estate in certain designated area within Qatar, numerous restrictions remained in place which could have potentially limited the rights of such property owners. It appears that the Foreign Property Ownership Law seeks to loosen restrictions and make new areas available for foreign property ownership.
The second law, Law No. 17 of 2018 (“Workers’ Fund Law”), establishes the frequently discussed Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund (“Fund”). The Worker’s Fund Law also establishes a new legal entity to manage the affairs of the Fund (“Authority”). The Fund is designed to support workers and to ensure that they receive their benefits, payments, and other entitlements in a timely manner. In the event a worker lodges a successful complaint against an employer before the disputes settlement committee, the employee can be immediately remunerated (e.g. for his end of service gratuity) through the Fund, rather than having to wait for the employer to make the payment on its own. The Authority will then pursue the employer for compensation. The same is true for employee repatriation; the Fund can provide an employee with tickets to return home, and then seek reimbursement from the employer.
While these are important functions, the Authority is also responsible for the larger role of ensuring a healthy and safe working and housing environment for employees. The Workers’ Fund Law benefits both private sector employees under the Labour Law, and domestic workers covered under the Domestic Worker’s Law.
By Michael Earley – Senior Associate