Qatar’s Cabinet has approved draft amendments to the Labour Law, Qatar Law No. 14/2004. If approved, labour dispute settlement committees will be established by a Ministerial Decision from the Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Ministry.
Kuwait’s Court of Appeal has ruled a local bank could not increase the interest rate on a loan. The claim was brought by a lawyer who argued the bank breached the law when it deducted interest from her client loan before deducting the actual amount lent to her client. The lawyer argued the bank breached the Civil Law and Trade Law.
The Dubai Municipality has announced it is ready to make all future contracts digital. They will become the first Government agency to do so. It comes as the Dubai Government looks to go completely paperless. The Municipality is waiting for legal authorisation before it starts issuing the first digital contracts. It means contractors and suppliers will be able to agree deals digitally with the Municipality by securing approvals and making electronic signatures.
The Registration Authority of Abu Dhabi’s Global Market has announced it has issued new Employment Regulations 2019 and Compensation Awards and Limits Rules 2019. The Regulations will come into force on 1 January 2020.
It follows a public consultation earlier this year on proposed amendments to the 2015 Regulations and have been drafted taking into account international standards.
The key changes introduced by the Regulations and Rules include new overtime provisions for employees, aligning certain employees’ entitlements with those onshore, including repatriation flight tickets and sick leave, changes allowing employers and employees more flexibility in negotiating notice periods, introducing protective provisions for those aged between 15 and 18 and introducing a discretionary power to the Market Courts to impose penalties on employers for failing to pay employees’ entitlements due on termination.
DIFC has launched a public consultation on proposed amendments related to the Employee Workplace Savings plan.
The Dubai International Financial Centre has announced it has launched a public consultation on proposed amendments to the 2019 Employment Law. The consultation ends on 18 November 2019. The proposed amendments relate to the Employee Workplace Savings plan. If approved, all employers based in the Centre will have to pay mandatory contributions into the scheme or into an alternative qualifying scheme. The requirements for these alternative qualifying schemes will require employers to make mandatory contributions towards employees’ end-of-service benefits and which will allow Centre employees to add their own savings as voluntary contributions. The Centre has also launched a consultation on proposed Employment Regulations which state the mandatory requirements for a qualifying scheme.
According to local newspaper reports, Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister has issued a Ministerial Decision which will allow expatriates to transfer their visit visas to work visas. Under Kuwait Ministerial Decision No. 957/2019, visit visas can be transferred to residence visas for dependents arriving on family or tourist visit visas, domestic helpers, holders of valid residence who do not exceed stay of 6 months outside Kuwait and have to enter with a visit visa, those who enter for work and start procedure to get residency but have to leave for maximum one month and visitors of ministries and public authorities with a Government visit visa. It will cost 3 Dinars to get a visa on arrival, 10 Dinars a person a year to renew residence and 10 Dinars a person a year for dependent residency fees for spouses and children.
The Acting Director of the Legal Department at the Commerce and Industry Ministry has announced Oman Sultani Decree No. 53/2019 promulgating the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law will come into force on 1 July 2020. Under the Law, individuals and institutions who have declared bankruptcy will need to pay their creditors back. The payment will be agreed through a payment restructuring plan. Both parties will have to agree to the plan and it must be ratified by a court. The court’s judgment will have to be published in the Official Gazette and the bankrupt will have to pay it. Traders who make false bankruptcy claims will be fined between 200 and 500 Rials.
Foreign nationals seeking short-term work authorisation in Saudi Arabia are currently unable to obtain a Work Visit Visa, following an unexpected decision by immigration authorities to replace the Work Visit and Commercial Visit Visas with a uniform Visit Visa for Business.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ electronic system used by visa sponsors to obtain visa invitation letters continues to allow applicants to choose between Work Visit and Commercial Visit Visas. Despite having a visa invitation letter for Work Visit Visas, applicants are issued Visit Visa for Business with the notification ‘not permitted to work’. This appears to be a practice in Saudi consular posts and visa service centres around the world.
Saudi immigration and labour authorities have not issued any formal notification withholding the issuing of Work Visit Visa which, until now, was the only immigration authorisation for foreign nationals seeking short-term work in the Kingdom.
With immediate effect, there is no option available for foreign nationals travelling to Saudi Arabia for short-term work other than the standard Work Visa, which triggers a formal long-term employment relationship with a sponsoring company in Saudi Arabia.
It remains unclear what is permissible and prohibited under the uniform Visit Visa for Business, including whether visitors can conduct hands-on technical activities, or if they are limited to performing ‘light’ business activities only (including meetings). It is also unclear whether Saudi immigration and labour authorities have made any provisions for foreign nationals seeking short-term work in the Kingdom, considering the only authorisation of this kind is no longer available.
Qatar’s Cabinet has approved the abolition of the Kafala system which requires some foreign workers to obtain exit visas to leave the country and get approval before changing jobs. Those affected by the visa change include agricultural, casual, domestic and public sector workers. The abolition of no objection certificates will allow employees to change jobs, providing they comply with contractual requirements. The changes will come into effect in January 2020. The Cabinet has also adopted draft minimum wage legislation which if approved will apply to all employees regardless of their nationality.
The Kuwaiti Government is consulting on exempting the wives of GCC nationals from a Citizenship Law which is currently under consideration. If approved, the Law will allow the spouses of Kuwaitis to apply for citizenship if they have been married for 18 years. Currently, they can apply after five years. The draft law has been referred to the Interior and Defence Committee of the country’s National Assembly. The country’s Parliament has already approved the amendment to Article 8 of Kuwait Emiri Decree No. 15/1959 on citizenship which states the wives of Kuwaiti men can obtain citizenship after 18 years of marriage instead of five.