As Qatar continues its fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and several people are now working from home, The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs (MADLSA) yesterday issued some guidelines regarding teleworking (work-from-home or remote work).
These guidelines will help clarify certain rights and responsibilities of employees as they continue teleworking under the current circumstances.
According to the Ministry, teleworking has been a significant part of the response to the pandemic.
Below are the Guidelines for company management:
Terms of contract
The Ministry has specified that the teleworking conditions of employment should remain the same as before. There should be no change in the employees’ salaries and benefits as a consequence of working from home. This includes the provision of food and accommodation or the payment of allowances.
The employer and employees should discuss and agree upon the teleworking hours and times during which they can be contacted.
The teleworking hours should not go beyond the hours that were being applied at the workplace.
Under previously announced measures, working hours had been reduced to six hours per day (7 am to 1 pm) during the COVID-19 crisis. This went into effect for employees in most sectors, the Ministry said.
The Ministry underlined that in those sectors where working hours have been reduced to six hours a day, employees can agree to work for a maximum of two hours of overtime each day, after a mutual agreement with the employer.
For employees in sectors where working hours remain unchanged, the Ministry said they should continue working eight hours a day, with a maximum of two hours of overtime, after mutually agreeing upon this with the employer and in line with the Labor Law.
In terms of effectively managing the whole mechanism of teleworking, the Ministry advised management to use a result-based management approach.
This means identifying work objectives and tasks, and then monitoring and discussing progress. It is important to make adjustments in the work plan and targets, in view of the challenges that have emerged due to the pandemic.
Equipment for Work
MADLSA said as much as possible, employers should provide the necessary equipment and supplies to employees to ensure they can carry out their job duties and enhance performance accordingly. This would include electronic equipment.
The Ministry also urges managers to share online tutorials to make employees better understand how to use and access the company Intranet, access emails remotely, and to put in place security protocols and handle sensitive files.
As most workers may be working from home for the first time, or may not be accustomed to this routine, isolation may have an impact on the mental wellbeing of workers. In light of this, the Ministry recommends that managers/supervisors must come up with strategies to support the safety and health of employees working remotely. An example would be holding virtual weekly team meetings and daily check-in calls, MADLSA said.
Guidance for employees working remotely
Those working remotely should maintain the same level of competence and productivity as they had at their workplaces before the COVID-19 crisis.
These workers should ensure their availability and remain contactable during the work hours as agreed upon with the employer.
They should not perform other personal activities during work hours, the Ministry said.
If at any time an employee is not performing official duties, it would be most appropriate for the employee to take leave, the Ministry added.
Working from home does not replace the regular annual, sick or any other type of leave, the Ministry stressed. To be granted such leaves, the workers should follow the usual policy and procedure for leave application/approval by the supervisor.
Equipment for Work
Employees who are working from home can request for clarity and advice on the work process from their supervisors. They should also look into the possibility of acquiring equipment from their supervisors as needed to perform job-related tasks at home.
All enterprise-owned equipment, software and data files must be returned to the employer once the remote working period is over.
Maintaining work-life balance
It is significant to create a boundary between work and personal life and adhere to it. Teleworkers are recommended to keep a dedicated workspace at home and know how to disconnect from job-related duties when needed for rest/ personal life.
“Teleworking provides a safe environment that contributes to business continuity and sustainability. Your co-operation plays an important role in making this arrangement a success,” the Ministry stated.
The Ministry said it welcomes inquiries and concerns about labor-related matters on the Labour Sector hotline: 40280660 and e-mail: [email protected]
Meanwhile, health authorities in Qatar continue to implement the highest level of monitoring, detection, and management procedures to deal with the virus, the public has been advised to follow certain measures to safeguard their health.
For any queries, or concerns related to COVID-19 in Qatar, the public can contact a 24/7 hotline set up by the Ministry. The hotline number is 16000 and is toll-free.
Source: Qatar Living