Information note

Introducing the new minimum wage

Article | 31 August 2020
What is the new minimum wage in Qatar?

In Qatar, lower-wage workers are remunerated in different ways, depending on the provision of food and accommodation. Therefore, there are three different rates for the minimum wage:
  • If the employer is providing decent food and accommodation at no cost to the worker, the worker is entitled to a minimum basic wage of no less than QAR 1,000.
  • If the employer provides decent accommodation at no cost to the worker, but does not provide food, the worker is entitled to a food allowance of no less than QAR 300, on top of a minimum basic wage of no less that QAR 1,000. In this case, the worker must be paid at least QAR 1,300 per month.
  • If the employer does not provide accommodation nor food, the worker is entitled to allowances of no less than QAR 300 for food and QAR 500 for accommodation, on top of a basic wage of at least QAR 1,000. In this case, the worker must receive at least QAR 1,800 per month.
When will it come into effect?

The new minimum wage will come into effect six months from when the Law is published in the official gazette. After that date, no worker can be paid a basic minimum wage of less than QAR 1,000 per month.

Was there a minimum wage in Qatar before this Law was adopted?

In November 2017, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA) introduced an administrative decision to no longer accept contracts with a basic monthly wage under QR 750, and also required employers to provide food and accommodation. The new basic minimum wage is a 33 per cent increase.

Why is this legislation significant?
  • The new minimum wage applies to all workers, in all sectors and of all nationalities, including domestic workers. This is the first non-discriminatory minimum wage legislation in the region.
  • The new minimum wage will directly affect approximately 400,000 workers. This represents 20 per cent of persons employed in the country. Through higher remittances, it will improve the lives of millions of workers’ family members in their countries of origin.
  • A monetary amount has been fixed by the State for food and housing allowances, to ensure decent living standards. This will improve the quality of life for many workers, including those already earning above the minimum basic wage.
  • The new legislation establishes a Minimum Wage Commission comprised of a number of government and non-government entities. This Commission is responsible for monitoring the impact of the minimum wage, and proposing revisions on a periodic basis. In formulating its views, they will routinely consult with experts, workers and employers.
  • The adoption of the Minimum Wage Law will strengthen wage protection efforts. The law provides clarity on employers’ obligations and workers’ rights, and can therefore be more effectively applied, and enforced by the Labour Inspection Department.
  • The new minimum levels apply regardless of the amount stated in the employment contract.
How will enterprises and the economy be affected?

The introduction of a minimum wage is a major landmark in the transition towards a knowledge-based economy, as set out in the National Vision 2030. Higher wages will have beneficial economic effects by leading companies to invest in a more skilled and productive workforce. Employers will likely be more selective in the recruitment process, leading to more workers being hired according to their skills and competencies. In addition, higher wages will also contribute to increased domestic consumption.
Economic considerations and the views of employers were taken into account when setting the new minimum wage rate. Employers with workers earning below the minimum wage have a six-month transition period to adjust to the new requirements.

Enforcement of the new minimum wage

The Wage Protection System (WPS) Unit will identify and penalize employers who pay a basic wage under the legal minimum amount, along with other wage violations, in coordination with other government agencies. The WPS is being upgraded in line with the recommendations from a comprehensive assessment of the WPS that was concluded in 2019. Staff of the labour inspection and labour relations departments will receive training, and a communication campaign will be carried out. Labour inspectors will monitor the payment of wages, as well as the accommodation standards set out in Ministerial Decision No. 18 of 2014. Moreover, in six months, contracts with a basic wage level less than the legal minimum will not be attested by Qatar Visa Centres or by ALDSA, including contracts for domestic workers.
Companies that are found to be non-compliant with the WPS are prohibited from obtaining government services until they have paid workers their due wages. In addition, violations will also be referred to the police for action. According to Articles 66 and 145(bis) of the Labour Law, non-payment of wages can result in a fine or imprisonment.
Domestic workers are currently not covered by the WPS. However, Law No. 15 of 2017 does stipulate a fine not exceeding QR 10,000 if the employer does not pay the domestic worker the agreed monthly wage. Moreover, in recent months, the Government and banks have facilitated the opening of bank accounts for domestic workers, an important step in wage protection.

The process of setting the minimum wage rate

The minimum wage legislation was adopted following economic analysis by the Government of the State of Qatar and the ILO, in consultation with national and international experts and a wide cross-section of workers and employers from different sectors of the economy. The report also reflected key principles of the ILO Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 (No. 131). The report was deliberated by the Council of Ministers and the Shura Council when determining the minimum wage rate.