New Ways of Working

Explore and keep track of key legal and compliance considerations for multinational employers as new ways of working become increasingly embedded as the pandemic begins to recede. Learn more about the response taken in specific countries or build your own report to compare approaches taken around the world.

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01. Has the government introduced any laws and/or issued guidelines around remote-working arrangements? If so, what categories of worker do the laws and/or guidelines apply to – do they extend to “gig” workers and other independent contractors?

01. Has the government introduced any laws and/or issued guidelines around remote-working arrangements? If so, what categories of worker do the laws and/or guidelines apply to – do they extend to “gig” workers and other independent contractors?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Pre-covid, there was an assumption that employees would work from their employer's premises and remote working was not particularly prevalent. Immigration approvals are employer-specific and location-specific, in that the grant of a work permit authorises the individual to work from the employee's premises. Legislation has not, therefore, typically addressed the issue of home working or remote working. 

Due to covid-19, the government initially mandated that companies implement working from home for 80% of its workforce and that the remaining 20% of the workforce only work between the hours of 7am and 1pm. These restrictions have since been gradually lifted with employers now able to operate in the office with 80% capacity.

The Qatar Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) issued guidelines in April 2020 regarding remote working. The guidelines stated that:

  • teleworking conditions of employment should remain unchanged, there should be no change to salaries and benefits as a consequence of working from home;
  • working hours should not go beyond the hours that were being applied in the workplace;
  • employers should provide, where possible, the necessary equipment and supplies to ensure their employees can carry out their duties and enhance performance, including electronic equipment;
  • devise strategies to support safety and health of employees working remotely and mental health;
  • employees should maintain the same productivity as in the workplace and be available during working hours as agreed with their employer, and not undertake personal activities during working hours;
  • working from home does not replace regular annual leave;
  • a good work-life balance must be maintained.
Last updated on 08/11/2021

02. Outline the key data protection risks associated with remote working in your jurisdiction.

02. Outline the key data protection risks associated with remote working in your jurisdiction.

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Data loss, cyber security, privacy and maintaining confidentiality are the key data risks associated with working remotely.  Taking precautions against importing viruses, compromising system security, and maintaining confidentiality while working remotely are key considerations for employers. Internal policies and procedures should be put in place to ensure employees are aware of their obligations, and operating through virtual private networks could minimise potential risks. 

Last updated on 08/11/2021

03. What are the limits on employer monitoring of worker activity in the context of a remote-working arrangement and what other factors should employers bear in mind when monitoring worker activity remotely?

03. What are the limits on employer monitoring of worker activity in the context of a remote-working arrangement and what other factors should employers bear in mind when monitoring worker activity remotely?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Qatar has an established legislative framework pertaining to data protection and personal rights to privacy. By way of background, the Qatar government enacted Law No. 13 of 2006 relating to the protection of personal data (PDPL) in 2017, which imposes obligations on natural and legal persons processing data related to identifiable individuals using electronic means. Additionally, the Qatar data protection authority, the Compliance & Data Protection Department (CDP), issued 14 guidelines in November 2020 to clarify obligations under the PDPL (the Guidelines).

The PDPL and the Guidelines guarantee the rights of data subjects, including the right to information and access to their personal data; the right to rectification; the right to erasure; the right to restriction of processing; the right to object; and the right to not be subjected to automated individual decision-making.

The CDP was established in 2020, and now serves as an independent, effective and impartial oversight system that guarantees compliance with the PDPL. An individual whose privacy rights have not been respected can complain directly to the CDP.

The Qatar Penal Code (11/2004, as amended) also establishes criminal offences concerning intercepting or disclosing correspondence or telephone conversations.

In addition to the Qatari Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Arab Charter on Human Rights (ACHR), to which Qatar is a party, all enshrine the rights to privacy, freedom of speech and the right of access to a court. All three legal texts apply equally to Qataris and non-Qataris.

It is increasingly commonplace for employers to monitor the use of the internet and communications systems, especially email; however, an employer's ability to monitor employees' activities must be carefully managed and employers should obtain prior employee consent. Employers must observe the legislative framework set out above and ensure that their employees have provided their express consent to any monitoring – this could be captured under the data protection clause of the employee’s contract of employment.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

04. Are employers required to provide work equipment (for example, computers and other digital devices) or to pay for or reimburse employees for costs associated with remote working (for example, internet and electricity costs)?

04. Are employers required to provide work equipment (for example, computers and other digital devices) or to pay for or reimburse employees for costs associated with remote working (for example, internet and electricity costs)?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Refer to question 1.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

05. What potential issues and risks arise for employers in the context of cross-border remote-working arrangements?

05. What potential issues and risks arise for employers in the context of cross-border remote-working arrangements?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

While there is no explicit prohibition on working abroad, the key areas of concern and risk are as follows:

  • Application of local labour law – employers will need to consider whether the application of the labour law in the host jurisdiction can be excluded.
  • Public policy matters – it is possible that public policy rules in the host jurisdiction may apply to the employment relationship.
  • Health insurance requirements – it is possible that the minimum health insurance requirements in the host jurisdiction may exceed the minimum requirements in Qatar. 
  • Social security and tax – depending on the jurisdiction, an employee may incur liability for personal income tax and social security in the host jurisdiction.
Last updated on 08/11/2021

06. Do employers have any scope to reduce the salaries and/or benefits of employees who work remotely?

06. Do employers have any scope to reduce the salaries and/or benefits of employees who work remotely?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Any reduction in contractual salary or benefits cannot be unilaterally imposed and will need to be mutually agreed upon with the employee.  There may be scope to unilaterally amend non-contractual benefits depending on how they have been structured.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

08. Can employers require or mandate that their workers receive a covid-19 vaccination? If so, what options does an employer have in the event an employee refuses to receive a covid-19 vaccination?

08. Can employers require or mandate that their workers receive a covid-19 vaccination? If so, what options does an employer have in the event an employee refuses to receive a covid-19 vaccination?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

At present, there is no policy of mandatory vaccination in Qatar. It is therefore not compulsory for individuals to get vaccinated.  

If employees are unvaccinated or do not reveal their status, an employer would need to consider alternatives; including permitting remote work if this is suitable for the employee’s role or potentially putting in place other measures in the workplace such as separating unvaccinated employees from vaccinated employees, or requiring negative PCR tests instead of vaccinations.

Employers have the right to terminate employment contracts. Any termination must be carried out in compliance with the terms of the Qatar Labour Law and the employment contract (including the notice period if applicable and the payment of all pending entitlements).

Last updated on 08/11/2021

09. What are the risks to an employer making entry to the workplace conditional on an individual worker having received a covid-19 vaccination?

09. What are the risks to an employer making entry to the workplace conditional on an individual worker having received a covid-19 vaccination?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Implementing a mandatory vaccination policy poses a conflict between an employer’s obligations concerning the health and safety of its employees versus an employee’s right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated. Vaccination cannot be mandated; however, employers can state that access to the workplace will only be granted to those who are vaccinated. Imposing a requirement to take the covid-19 vaccination would require the employee’s consent. In such instances, consideration should be given as to the rationale and employee concerns, as well as whether employees perform a role that can be undertaken from home. The employer should also ensure that any vaccination policy allows for exceptions relating to pregnancy or other issues which may mean vaccination is not appropriate.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

10. Are there some workplaces or specific industries or sectors in which the government has required that employers make access to the workplace conditional on individuals having received a Covid-19 vaccination?

10. Are there some workplaces or specific industries or sectors in which the government has required that employers make access to the workplace conditional on individuals having received a Covid-19 vaccination?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Not currently, but this may become a requirement in the future.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

11. What are the key privacy considerations employers face in relation to ascertaining and processing employee medical and vaccination information?

11. What are the key privacy considerations employers face in relation to ascertaining and processing employee medical and vaccination information?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

There are various requirements under Law No. 13 of 2006 relating to the PDPL.  The PDPL offers data subjects several rights under articles 3, 5 and 6, namely the right to:

  • have their personal data protected and lawfully processed;
  • withdraw their previous consent to have their personal data processed;
  • object to the processing of their personal data if it is not necessary to achieve the purpose for which it was gathered, if it goes beyond its requirements, or if such processing is discriminatory, prejudicial or in violation of the PDPL;
  • request the deletion or removal of their personal data in the two circumstances referred to above, or if the purpose for which such personal data was processed no longer exists, or if there is no longer any reason to maintain the same by the controller;
  • request the correction of their personal data, provided that the evidence to support such a request is also submitted;
  • access their personal data and request to review the same, before any controller;
  • be notified that their personal data is being processed and the purposes for which it is being processed;
  • be notified of any disclosure of inaccurate personal data about themselves; and
  • obtain a copy of their personal data.

Furthermore, the CDP issued 14 guidelines in November 2020 to clarify the obligations under the PDPL (the Guidelines).  The Guidelines are intended to clarify the obligations under the PDPL. These include, for example, the requirement for controllers to:

  • maintain records of processing activities;
  • implement a Personal Data Management System to effectively manage the personal data that the controller processes and to report any violations of procedures and controls to the CDP;
  • carry out due diligence on data processors and put in place adequate contracts to regulate how they process personal data;
  • obtain authorisation from the CDP when processing any data of a “special nature” (ie, sensitive personal data), which includes data relating to health, religion, criminal convictions, and children;
  • carry out a data privacy impact assessment before undertaking new processing activities, particularly in the case of prospective data exports or the processing of special nature personal data;
  • notify the CDP or affected individuals within 72 hours in the event of certain data breach incidents; and
  • embed privacy into their processing activities and business practices, from the design stage and throughout their lifecycle.
Last updated on 08/11/2021

12. What are the key health and safety considerations for employers in respect of remote workers?

12. What are the key health and safety considerations for employers in respect of remote workers?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

The Qatar Labour Law does not consider remote working separately. The general health and safety provisions set out in the Qatar Labour Law will need to continue to be complied with where applicable. 

Key health and safety considerations for remote working include:

  • Mental health – employers should consider what measures they can take to minimise the impact of remote working on employee mental health. This might include the introduction of wellbeing policies, counselling, and employee assistance programmes.
  • Electrical equipment – employers need to consider the provision and maintenance of electrical equipment.
  • Working environment – consideration should be given as to whether the employee has a suitable working environment.
Last updated on 08/11/2021

13. How has the pandemic impacted employers’ obligations vis-à-vis worker health and safety beyond the physical workplace?

13. How has the pandemic impacted employers’ obligations vis-à-vis worker health and safety beyond the physical workplace?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Not from a statutory perspective; however, many employers have adopted additional mechanisms and assistance for employees dealing with mental health issues.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

14. Do employer health and safety obligations differ between mobile workers and workers based primarily at home?

14. Do employer health and safety obligations differ between mobile workers and workers based primarily at home?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

There is no distinction in the Qatar Labour Law. Refer to answer to question 12.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

15. To what extent are employers responsible for the mental health and wellbeing of workers who are working remotely?

15. To what extent are employers responsible for the mental health and wellbeing of workers who are working remotely?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Employers have a general duty to protect or maintain the health and safety of their employees in the workplace, which includes mental health. The Qatar Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) guidelines regarding remote working issued in April 2020 also provide that employers should devise strategies to support the health and safety of employees working remotely and their mental health.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

17. To what extent have employers been able to make changes to their organisations during the pandemic, including by making redundancies and/or reducing wages and employee benefits?

17. To what extent have employers been able to make changes to their organisations during the pandemic, including by making redundancies and/or reducing wages and employee benefits?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

Generally, employers have the right under the Qatar Labour Law to terminate employment contracts. Any termination must be carried out in compliance with the terms of the Qatar Labour Law and the employment contract (including the notice period if applicable and the payment of all pending entitlements).  At the start of the pandemic, the MADLSA published guidance notes on their website that reiterated this and also stated that employers may mutually agree that workers take unpaid leave or use their annual leave if the business has been halted and the worker is not assigned any work. In such instances, employers were required to continue to provide all other benefits.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

18. What actions, if any, have unions or other worker associations taken to protect the entitlements and rights of remote workers?

18. What actions, if any, have unions or other worker associations taken to protect the entitlements and rights of remote workers?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

While the Qatar Labour Law does allow for worker’s committees to be established in certain instances, their powers are limited, and regarding employee remote-working entitlements, we are not aware of any action taken or requests made.

Last updated on 08/11/2021

19. Are employers required to consult with, or otherwise involve, the relevant union when introducing a remote-working arrangement? If so, how much influence does the union and/or works council have to alter the working arrangement (for example, to ensure workers’ health and safety is protected during any period of remote work)?

19. Are employers required to consult with, or otherwise involve, the relevant union when introducing a remote-working arrangement? If so, how much influence does the union and/or works council have to alter the working arrangement (for example, to ensure workers’ health and safety is protected during any period of remote work)?

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Qatar

  • at Clyde & Co
  • at Clyde & Co

There is no requirement for consultation. Workers’ committees can mediate and provide recommendations for the employer’s consideration and have the ability to conclude collective-bargaining agreements; however, their influence in altering working arrangements is limited.

Last updated on 08/11/2021