The Ministry of Interior (MOI) has established an appeals committee for Qatar expats whose exit permits are denied by their employers.
The move comes ahead of the official launch of reforms to the country’s sponsorship law, which take effect tomorrow.
The committee is one of a few legislative changes that are expected to make it easier for expats to switch jobs and leave the country.
According to the text of Law №21 of 2015, an automated exit permit system was expected to be set up via the MOI.
But officials announced a few weeks ago that expats will still need their employers’ permission to leave the country.
However, the grievance panel is being established to help those who have trouble securing such permissions.
During a press conference yesterday, officials said they will begin hearing complaints on Tuesday at the former Traffic Department office in Madinat Khalifa.
The office is open from Sundays to Thursdays.
Also yesterday, authorities outlined the circumstances in which an expat can petition for an appeal:
Expats can approach the committee if his employer not allowing him to leave the country on his rightful vacation or in emergency. #MoI_Qatar
— Ministry of Interior (@MOI_QatarEn) December 11, 2016
Once a complaint is filed, the committee will contact the employer, who must justify why he denied the exit permit.
Valid reasons would be if the expat has committed fraud or is trying to avoid prosecution of a crime, officials previously explained.
If the employer is unreachable, the employee will be granted an exit permit, the labor ministry said.
Decisions on grievances will be made within three working days of receiving them.
If the committee rejects the appeal, an expat also has 24 hours to petition the Minister of Interior.
For now, all grievances should be filed in person by filling out a certain form. An electronic system will be set up “later,” the MOI added.
Also on Tuesday, the new law will make it possible for some expats to change jobs without requiring a no objection certificate.
Those on fixed-term contracts can change jobs without employer approval once their contract is completed.
Meanwhile, those on opened-ended contracts must wait five years if they want to change employers without permission.
However, all employees will still need to apply to the labor ministry before moving to another job.
For more on the new law, including who it applies to, coping with emergencies and what to do when sacked, see this primer of Q&As.
Are you excited about the changes? Thoughts?