The working week in Qatar is Sunday to Thursday, but the times worked vary. Office-based companies normally work from 8.30am to 5.30pm, but banks and schools often start and finish earlier, while shops have a break in the middle of the day. Under Qatari labour laws the maximum working time allowed each week without overtime pay is 48 hours and employees are entitled to at least one day off – usually Fridays or Saturdays. During the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, hours are reduced to 36 per week.
Full-time workers are legally entitled to paid annual leave after one year of continuous service. The minimum allowed is three weeks of leave, rising to four weeks after five years of service, although there are more restrictions on when you can take your holiday than in some countries. Paid sick leave and maternity leave are also defined within the law and may be granted depending on your length of service. Muslims are also entitled to take two weeks of unpaid pilgrimage leave once in their working life to observe the Hajj.
The main public holidays in Qatar are for the religious festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the dates of which depend on sightings of the moon. Other public holidays may also be granted on a local level, so it’s best to check with your employer.
Bank holiday dates
National Sports Day: 9th February
Eid al-Fitr: 7th July*
Eid al-Adha: 8th September*
National Day: 18th December
*Dates may change according to the lunar month
Visas and eligibility to work
With large numbers of foreign nationals working in Qatar, there is a comprehensive system of visas and work permits in place. For tourists and people on short business trips, visas are relatively easy to obtain with residents of certain countries able to take advantage of the visa on arrival scheme. However, to live and work in the country you will also need to apply for a residency permit with the support of a sponsor. Once you have a job offer, your employer will usually sponsor your application. If you want to move jobs your sponsor will need to give their consent, and they will also have control over your transit in and out of the country.
If you are relocating with family, they will need Family Residence Visas. Usually you may sponsor a family member’s visa application yourself, provided that you earn over QR7,000 (≈£1,150) per month. Be aware that to live with a partner in Qatar you must be married. Male children must be under the age of 25 to receive your sponsorship, while female children may be sponsored at any age as long as they are not married. Family Residence Visas do not give your family the right to work in Qatar – this would need to be granted separately.
Qatar famously charges very few taxes and there is no system of personal income tax on employees. Business activities are taxed in Qatar though, so if you are self-employed you may be required to pay tax. Depending on their nationality some expats may also be required to pay tax on income earned from their Qatari job in their home country.
Although there is a state-run pension scheme for Qatari citizens, there is currently no provision within it for foreign nationals. Some employers may make a company pension scheme accessible for expats, or you could take out a private pension or continue to contribute to a scheme in your home country.
Although Qatar does offer benefits to its citizens, there are not currently any social security benefits available to foreign nationals.
Qatari law prevents discrimination against people with disabilities and there is a quota system in place to ensure that disabled people have access to jobs. However, foreign nationals living in Qatar are not entitled to disability benefits.