On 22 August 2017, His Highness the Emir promulgated Law No. 15 of 2017 Regarding Domestic Helpers (“Helpers Law”). The Helpers Law is novel in nature as it defines the obligations of the hirer and rights of the domestic helper in a manner that has not been addressed under Qatar law in the past.
Except to any agreement to the contrary between the parties, the Helpers Law limits working hours to ten hours per day, excluding hours of worship, rest and meal times, and limits working days to six days per week (consecutively or non-consecutively). Domestic helpers are entitled to a three week annual leave period and end of service payment of at least three weeks per year of completed service. Notwithstanding, the parties may agree for the domestic helper to continue their service outside of working hours/days. Upon completion of two years of service, the hirer will be obligated to provide the domestic helper tickets to their home country (or original place of residence) for every accrued annual leave thereafter.
The Helpers Law stipulates the requirement for a contract between the hirer and the domestic helper to be signed and attested by the relevant department at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs. The contract must include, inter alia, the agreed wage, payment due dates (limited to monthly payments at most), and renewal and termination provisions. Wage payments can be done via deposits to the domestic helper’s bank account in Qatari Riyals or cash payments with signed proof of receipt by the domestic helper.
Recruitment of domestic helpers is only permitted for offices with manpower recruitment licenses, per the Labour Law No. 14 of 2004. However, the Helpers Law permits a person wishing to recruit for their own accord to recruit a domestic helper independently without the need of a licensed office. The hirer may not deduct recruitment charges from the domestic helper’s entitled wage. Recruitment of minors (under eighteen years old) and seniors (over sixty years old) is prohibited.
The Helpers Law places multiple obligations on the hirer in favour of the domestic helper. These include requiring the hirer to provide appropriate housing, nourishment, adequate healthcare, and in case of work related injuries medical treatment including pharmaceutical provisions. In addition, the hirer must treat the domestic helper with integrity and avoid risking physical or psychological harm to them.
In the case where the domestic helper is forced to continue their service outside the State of Qatar, either temporarily or permanently, they are entitled to terminate the contract without repercussions and maintain the right to their full end of service payment. In such a case, the hirer is also obligated to repatriate the domestic helper at the hirer’s cost.
Either party may terminate the contract in case of breach of obligations under contract or the Helpers Law. The hirer may also terminate the contract in cases of misrepresentation on the part of the hirer or original recruiter, physical abuse, or fatal risks to the domestic helper that the hirer is knowledgeable of. The Helpers Law mandates, without the ability to opt out of, that disputes between the parties shall be resolved by the Labour Dispute Committee recently established by virtue of Law No. 13 of 2017.
Undeniably, the Helpers Law is a great leap forward for the protection of human rights in Qatar.