In this article, our employment experts provide a brief summary of the key provisions regulating workplace leave in Qatar.
The Labour Law* governs the majority of Qatar's expatriate workforce except those employees which are expressly excluded by virtue of Article 3 including, but not limited to, workers from ministries and governmental organisations, companies established by Qatar Petroleum and casual and domestic workers.
Where individuals are excluded from the Labour Law, their employment is subject to alternative legal and regulatory provisions (e.g. Human Resource Law, Civil Code, Qatar Petroleum policies and domestic workers law). In each case, workplace leave will be calculated differently.
Article 79 of the Labour Law provides that employees who have completed one continuous year of service with their employer shall be entitled to annual leave with pay. This leave shall not be less than three weeks for those employees who have completed less than five years of service and four weeks for those employees who have completed five years or more of service. The reference to "weeks" is to calendar weeks.
Article 78 of the Labour Law provides that all employees, regardless of the duration of their employment, are entitled to the following leave with full pay:
- 3 days for Eid Al-Fitr;
- 3 days for Eid Al-Adha;
- 1 day for National Day;
- 1 day for National Sports Day;
- 3 days to be specified by the employer.
The Labour Law clearly specifies that the above national holidays are calculated as working days, meaning that if one or more of the holidays outlined above fall on a non-working day (e.g. Friday), the employer is required to compensate its employees with an additional day of holiday. This requirement does not apply to employees who work shifts which have been approved by the Qatar Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs.
It is important to note that the application of the three working days to be specified by the employer. It is common practice that foreign companies in Qatar use this provision to grant their employees holiday leave during Christian festivals, which are not official holidays in Qatar.
The dates in which Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha fall are not set and shift approximately 10 days per year. Usually a state body in Qatar confirms the dates of the Eid holidays close to the date the holiday is due to begin. National Sports Day falls on the second Tuesday of February, whilst National Day is on the 18 December.
Article 75 of the Labour Law provides that all workers, with the exception of shift workers, are entitled to not less than one full day of weekly paid rest, with Friday being designated as the weekly rest day applying to all employers.
If the employee is required to work during their rest day, they are entitled to receive a day in lieu together with either 150% of their basic salary together with their basic salary or 100% of their total salary (basic plus contractual allowances). With the exception of shift workers, employees should not be required to work more than two consecutive Fridays.
Paid Sick Leave
Article 82 of the Labour Law provides that employees with a minimum of three months' service are entitled to sick leave with pay for each year of service. Sick leave is subject to the employee providing a medical certificate as evidence of their sickness by a physician approved by the employer.
Employees satisfying these requirements are entitled to sick leave with:
- Full salary for the first two weeks of sick leave;
- Half salary for the subsequent four weeks of sick leave; and
- No pay for any sick leave exceeding the above (until work is resumed or the employee resigns or is terminated).
The employer is entitled to terminate the employee's employment after 12 full weeks of sick leave if it has been established that the employee is unfit to perform their duty through a medical report issued by a competent physician. Article 82 of the Labour Law bars employers from dismissing (or serving notice of dismissal to an employee on sick leave.
Article 83 of the Labour Law entitles Muslim employees to special leave without pay for a period not exceeding 20 days for the performance of the pilgrimage duty once during their employment.
The employer has discretion to decide the number of the employees who are entitled to Hajj leave annually in accordance with work requirements, with employees who have been in continuous service for longer periods granted priority.
The Labour Law does not grant employees entitlement to disability leave.
Pursuant to Article 109 of the Labour Law, employees who have sustained a work injury are entitled to receive their full wage during a period of treatment or the period of six months whichever is shorter. If the period of treatment exceeds the initial six month period, the employee shall be entitled to half pay until recovery or proof of permanent disability or death, whichever happens first.
The employee, or in the event of the employee's death, the employee's heir, is entitled to claim workplace-injury compensation where the employee has suffered a work-related injury or has died.
The employee, or in the event of the employee's death, the employee's heir, is entitled to claim compensation not exceeding 200,000 QR for partial or total disability or death.
Maternity and Paternity Leave
Article 96 of the Labour Law provides that female employees with a minimum of once continuous year of employment is entitled to 50 days of maternity leave with full pay, including prenatal and postnatal periods, provided that the postnatal period is not less than 35 days. It is important to note that maternity leave is in addition to and does not affect the female employee's right to any other leave.
Maternity leave is subject to the production of a medical certificate issued by a licensed physician stating the probable date of delivery.
In the event that the postnatal period of leave is less than 35 days, the female employee may be granted complementary leave by the employer which is deducted from the employee's annual leave allowance or be considered as unpaid leave.
If a female employee is unable to return to work due to postnatal health conditions at the end of her maternity leave entitlement, the excess period of leave will be without pay provided that it does not exceed 60 consecutive or non-consecutive days. It is also subject to a medical certificate stating the employee's medical condition being provided by a licensed physician.
A female employee who is nursing her child is also entitled to a nursing hour each day for a period of one year following the birth of the child. The employer is not entitled to dictate the schedule of the nursing break and it shall be considered part of the employee's working hours with no deduction in remuneration.
Male employees have no entitlement to paternity leave under the Labour Law, but some employers may, at their discretion, provide contractual paternity leave.
* Law No. (14) of 2004
Note: All Qatari Laws (save for those issued by the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) to regulate its own internal business) are issued in Arabic and there are no official translations, therefore for the purpose of drafting this article we have used our own translation and interpreted the same in the context of Qatari laws and regulations.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.