New mandatory health insurance system introduced in Qatar
Top workplace issues
With the Qatar 2022 World Cup fast approaching, it is a timely opportunity to consider the health and safety framework in Qatar. In this article, we outline 5 things to know about health and safety in Qatar.
There is extensive legislation and regulation relating to health and safety in Qatar. This is set out in a wide variety of sources as opposed to a single health and safety law. The exact health and safety obligations and liabilities that an organisation is subject to will therefore depend on a number of factors, including its location and regulator.
For example, for organisations licenced in the State, the Qatar Labour Law (Qatar Law No. 14 of 2004, as amended) sets out various health and safety obligations including informing workers of the risks associated with their work and the means of preventing such risks, ensuring the cleanliness and ventilation of the workplace and providing a suitably stocked first aid kit. This would not apply to organisations in the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), who are instead subject to the health and safety obligations set out in the QFC Employment Regulations (QFC Regulation 10. of 2006, as amended).
A national health and safety policy was issued in 2020 to protect workers. The policy sets out responsibilities for companies and relevant authorities to elaborate, review and revise the labour legislation and regulations on occupational health and safety, raise awareness, promote health and safety and conduct investigations to identify the causes of accidents and diseases in the workplace.
The National Vision states that Qatar aspires to develop an integrated system for health care, managed according to world class standards to meet the needs of existing and future generations.
Specifically, it refers to a continued commitment by the state to provide sufficient funds for maintaining the health of Qatar’s population in accordance with the principle of partnership in bearing the costs of health care.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the State of Qatar launched a multiyear collaboration titled “Health FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Creating Legacy for Sport and Health”. Joint activities will be undertaken to promote healthy lives, health security and physical and mental well-being. According to the WHO, a critical goal of the project is to set and translate the best practices in health promotion, security and safety for use at major sporting events around the world. We anticipate further developments in this area over the coming years.
Qatar’s comprehensive and well regarded public healthcare system operates through the state-run Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). Qatar citizens and residents can access heavily subsidised and extensive public healthcare at HMC clinics or hospitals. Healthcare through the HMC medical centres is accessed through a health card, the cost of which is currently QAR 100. Healthcare in Qatar is overseen by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH).
The new compulsory health insurance scheme will apply to all expatriates and visitors to Qatar and replaces an earlier scheme (SEHA) which was disbanded in 2015.
The new scheme appears to envisage private insurers that are approved by the MOPH being authorised to offer prescribed minimum levels of cover as set out by the scheme. Details of the various plans to be required and offered, together with costings, are still awaited.
In our previous article, we consider how the new scheme will operate, what this means for employers and the insurance market in Qatar.
Where workplace incidents occur, criminal proceedings will often ensue with criminal responsibility being attributed to the person(s) deemed responsible for the incident.
The criminal investigation will start with the police who will refer to the matter to the Public Prosecutor if they consider there is a case to answer. The Public Prosecutor will undertake his own investigations and, if he considers there is a case to answer, will refer the matter to the criminal court for determination. A finding of criminal guilt can result in imprisonment and/or fines for the relevant individual(s).
It is important that employers are properly prepared for the worst. An emergency response procedure is critical so that key employees know what to do in the event of an incident. Additionally, employees in roles who may be the subject of criminal investigations (site managers, project managers, health and safety managers etc.) should be properly trained on the criminal investigation process and what to expect.
If you would like further information on the points raised in this article, or any other points of Qatar law, please contact Emma Higham. Our Qatar hub helps businesses and individuals ensure they are prepared to navigate the legal landscape ahead of the 2022 World Cup.