His Highness the Emir of Qatar promulgated Law No. 13 of 2017 on Wednesday the 16th of August amending certain provisions of Labour Law No. 14 of 2004 (“Labour Law”) and Civil and Commercial Procedural Law No. 13 of 1990 (“CCP Law”).
The crux of the sweeping amendments is the establishment of a Labour Dispute Committee (“Committee”). The Committee will have authority to settle any labour disputes that are governed by the Labour Law. That is to say, the Committee will not have jurisdiction over employment relations that are exempt from the Labour Law such as inter alia those in the oil and gas sector or civil servants.
Deadlines have been set for the Committee to adhere to when resolving disputes. For example, the Committee must issue its determination in respect of a dispute within three weeks of hearing the first session. The parties in dispute are also obligated with certain timeframes, such as a fifteen day deadline to appeal a Committee determination as of the date of its issuance.
The reading of the amending provisions suggests that submitting a labour dispute to the Committee is not optional. Furthermore, the head of the Committee is granted authority akin to that of a judge of a Court of First Instance. A determination by the head of the Committee is treated as a court judgment whereby a writ of execution can be applied for on its basis. However, the amendments also state that the appeal of the determination, which must be lodged within fifteen days, must be submitted to the Court of Appeal.
Prior to the amendment, the Department of Labour was mandated under Article 6 of the CCP Law to investigate and amicably resolve disputes between employee and employer. The mentioned Article 6 has been repealed.
It seems that the amendments to the Labour Law are an attempt at accelerating the dispute resolution process between employees and employers. Aggrieved parties will divert their dispute to the Committee as opposed to the Labour Court (or the Department of Labour) and obtain a determination within a few weeks or less as opposed to months.