Women and Work in Qatar
Practical Advice for Working Women in Qatar
It is now quite normal for women to work in Qatar, and increasing numbers of Qatari women are leaving the household to do so. However, you may be required to dress more modestly than you are used to, and I know of some women who even cover their hair, although in most cases long sleeves and dress or trousers are sufficient.
Registering as a Working Women
You should not need to do this if you have been recruited from outside the country. However, if you are already in the country when you are offered a job you are supposed to register as a working women at the Labour department.
You do this after your employer has sent a letter to the Ministry of Civil Service and Housing Affairs, requesting permission to employ you. Once the ministry has agreed, you need to go to the labour department with a copy of your employment contract, a letter from the family sponsor giving permission to work, original academic and professional qualifications + photocopies, two photographs, original passports and ID + photocopies of you and your family sponsor.
Note: Do not allow the departments to take the originals of your certificates and passports. I have known people to receive their certificates back with notes and scribbles on them. Photocopies - and faxes and scanned documents - always seem to be acceptable in Qatar.
As of January 1st 2008 spouses and others being in Qatar on prsonal sponsorship now have to pay an annual fee to obtain a licence to work from the Department of Labour.
Many companies and sponsors do not bother with the red tape and contract, and choose to employ women on an informal basis, with details being agreed by word of mouth. Obviously, you will not then have the protection and rights afforded to you by Qatar law.
Theroetically, a woman can sponsor her family, including her husband.
In the event of a woman being able to sponsor her husband, her husband will then require an exit permit to leave the country. This may be more problematic than normal: the editor of Qatar Journal was refused exit from Qatar, and he believes this was due to confusion arising from being sponsored by his wife.
Update: The new sponsorship law now states that working women can sponsor both their spouses and their children. We also know of several people doing so. See Qatar Sponsorship Law on the blog, or Sponsorship for Husbands under our jobs questions series.
Rights and Equality
Under Qatar Labour Law, women should now receive equal pay, training and opportunities to a man when performing similar duties.
Employers are not allowed to terminate a women's contract because of marriage or pregnancy.
One exception to woman having equal rights is dangerous work: women are not supposed to participate in dangerous work or "works detrimental to their health, morals or other works to be specified by a Decision of the Minister." (Source: Qatar Labour Law.)
Women are entitled to maternity leave of fifty days a year, and breast feeding women should be an entitled to an hour of rest time a day for one year after giving birth. This hour cannot be deducted from wages.