What are the changes to social security in Qatar?
Earlier this year, Qatar ratified Social Insurance Law No. 1 which made major reforms in the state pension plan. This law expands coverage for workers, adjusts covered earnings, and will increase contribution rates. It will also establish a minimum old-age pension, increase the retirement age, and provide incentives to work longer before retirement.
The reform is in response to challenges with the existing social scheme. Over 64% of current pensioners have retired early, and less than 53% of Qatari citizens are currently in the labor force. The reforms intend to encourage “Qatarization” – that is, expanding employment of Qatari nationals in the private sector. Currently, only about 10% of the private labor force are Qatari nationals.
Under current rules, employees in the existing pension plan can retire after 15 years of service at age 40. The minimum retirement age will increase from 40 to 50 years and the minimum contribution period will increase from 15 years to 25 years. Retirees with 30 years of service will receive additional benefits.
Prior to the reform, only employees in the government sector and employees of certain listed companies were required to participate. Participation was also limited to Qatari nationals and nationals of other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. There are six GCC Countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.
Now, under the reform, coverage expanded to all Qatari national workers in the private sector aged eighteen or older with work contract terms of at least 1 year. Employers who offer a private pension scheme which is more generous than the new pension scheme will be exempt.
Non-Qatari and Non-GCC employees will remain exempt from social security. Contribution rates will gradually increase, but the phase-in period has not yet been confirmed.
- Employee contributions will change from 5% uncapped to 7% of gross wages capped at 100,000 riyals per month
- Employer contributions will increase from 10% to 14% of gross wages, uncapped.
The wage base must now also include any housing allowances paid on behalf of employees up to 6,000 riyals per month. The new social insurance law is effective as of October 19, 2022, with most of the reforms taking effect in early 2023. We are still waiting on executive regulations implementing and clarifying the details of the law.
Global Mobility managers should consider the impact on budgets of the additional social security costs for your Qatari employees.