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HR News Update – Qatar operators must heed new PMI laws

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New PMI legislation in Qatar could leave British firms operating there understaffed, says Jelf Employee Benefits.

Qatar is being acknowledged as the next economic power in the Gulf. However, changes to the PMI-associated visa rules mean that some firms operating in the region may be short staffed during 2015 if they don’t comply with the new reforms, according to Jelf Employee Benefits. A brief guide to the changes: Employers with expatriates in Qatar are legally obliged to pay premiums on behalf of their employees. Employers will not be issued with residence permits for their staff unless they have subscribed to the new National Health Insurance Service and have suitable coverage in place.

Insurance companies (including international insurers) must have their place of business in Qatar and therefore be registered with the Supreme Council of Health and other Government Authorities in Qatar. These new laws will come in to force in the first quarter of 2015 for white collar workers, and blue collar non-national workers will be included in the final phase of the scheme by the end of 2015. James Spencer, international development manager for Jelf International says: “Qatar does not levy personal income tax on employee earnings, making it an attractive relocation for expatriate employees, especially those in financial services and professions. Employers looking to renew visas for these staff will simply find they are left without sufficient employee capacity unless they have complied with the new rules. It will be the responsibility of the employer to ensure that they comply with new legislation; and some insurers who do not have a solution may not be immediately able to cover employees in Qatar.”

Jelf Employee Benefits advises employers that whilst the medical facilities in Qatar are highly regarded, the medical insurance market is less developed. Organisations need to be mindful in selecting their insurer, as not all international insurers will be registered in Qatar or have a local insurance partner. It is important to consider their relationship with local medical facilities and wider recognition in Qatar, so as to avoid impacting employees claiming experience in the country.

Spencer concluded: “In a country expanding so rapidly it is not surprising to see this directive being put in place, and employers who plan ahead shouldn’t experience many difficulties. It is encouraging to understand that the new National Health Insurance Service will work with private health insurers in order to transition their member schemes to compliant plans to avoid double coverage. However, international employee benefits is such a complex area, any employer with concerns should seek expert advice.” For more information or to read Jelf International’s guide on the new legislation in Qatar.

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