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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Part time or flexible hours? Qatar studies options for working women to maintain family stability


Qatar announces plans to implement a part-time system for working women to protect family stability. 

Authorities in Qatar are looking at a part-time system for working women in order to maintain family stability, the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani said.

This comes as part of a government strategy to establish new rules for job competency and improve living conditions for citizens and residents in the country.

The move was unveiled at briefing on Saturday in the presence of editors-in-chief of Qatar-based newspapers, where the official discussed several topics including government efficiency, issues of employment and education. 

“I am personally interested in this file, and this study took a long time and we are working on it greatly, and we are also working to establish new rules for job competency that everyone will benefit from and have an impact on future generations,” the prime minister said during the meeting.

In an exclusive interview with Doha News, a member of the Central Municipal Council and Head of the Legal Committee of the Council, Sheikha Al Jufairi said the study hints at a positive move towards a better society. 

“This will contribute to productivity in the work field as well as in the family system,” she said. 

When asked about the potential disadvantages of such a law, Al Jufairi said “we have passed through tough circumstances that tested our capabilities and productivity, and during the pandemic we managed to find solutions and work from home. When we transferred to remote working, we didn’t witness disadvantages and in fact, productivity has increased”.

This is “the right decision and a positive step toward achieving the national goal,” she said.

“I don’t think this will affect women’s participation in the workplace, since public institutions will definitely adhere to the laws set by authorities.”

The official also made mention of the new retirement law that raised the minimum pension to QR 15,000.  

Read also: Qatar’s amir raises retirement pension to QR 15,000

“Many people do not even get paid QR 5,000, but now when they retire they’ll receive a minimum pension of QR 15,000, which is great,” Al Jufairi said.

However, although the move to protect family stability encourages steps towards rethinking the way we conduct our jobs, Dr. Amal Al Malki, Founding Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) told Doha News it may not be the most ideal solution.

Flexibility in working times would work better than of part-time contracts, she suggested.

“I think that flexible timing instead of the part-time scheme is an advantage for women especially for the stability of family.

“Part-time system is in the interest of employers,” she said, noting that part-time employees are given the task of a full time employee for less salary.

“As a mother I saw once that my working hours become flexible, I am able to be more productive on all levels.”

Meanwhile, Al Malki rejected the concept of balance between “work and personal life,” noting that “the narrative of balance between work and family is usually used against women,” while it is a family matter.

This means an alternative solution would be allowing men and women to alternate between shifts in order to ensure someone is able to supervise their children while the other is at work, she suggested.

“The effort should be divided between men and women and so I think flexible working hours is a plus for families because we are in a society that is based on family units.”

When asked about potential fields and jobs where this strategy could best be achievable, Al Malki said “I think all disciplines are open to flexible hours and shifts.

“I think the pandemic taught us several lessons, one of which is productivity can be from anywhere. Some people are still working from home, which proves that whether they are home or elsewhere or in the office, their productivity is zero or very close to zero, while others proved that they are actually more productive working from home.”

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