CONSCRIPTION LAW INTRODUCED IN QATAR
On March 11 Qatar's National Service Law was issued which came into force with immediate effect.
Abrief period of national service is now compulsory for all male Qatari nationals between the ages of 18 and 35, subject to exceptions set out in the Law. The Law provides for two types of service, active service and reserve service.
Active service will include a period of military training and a period of service in one of the units of the armed forces. In general, male graduates with college or university degrees have to serve three months, while non-graduates and high school dropouts have to serve four months. For those currently in college or university, active service can be delayed until their graduation or until they reach 33, whichever is earlier.
Reserve service follows for the next 10 years, or until the age of 40, whichever is earlier. A reserve can be recalled for a training period of up to 15 days and he can otherwise be drafted if a general mobilisation order is issued by the Commander General of the Armed Forces (the Commander General), or if war or martial law is declared by Emiri Order.
The Law provides for a number of exemptions, waivers and a one-year deferment of active service in certain circumstances, based on the public interest or national security considerations. For example, only sons, sole breadwinners, and those certified medically unfit for service are among those exempted. The Law also exempts government staff and employees of non-governmental organizations subject to a request from the concerned minister or head of the organisation (as the case may be), and subject to the approval of the Commander General. Conscripts can be allowed to continue working in their job during their period of service if it is required in the public interest, subject to a decision of the Commander General.
Breaking the Law or abetting a violation will subject the offender to penalties. These include extended national service up to two months, one month's imprisonment and/or a heavy fine.
The National Service Law will impact employers across Qatar in several key ways:
Male nationals can no longer be recruited (whether in the public or private sector) unless they have completed (or been duly exempted from) the prescribed national service.
Male nationals are not allowed to continue working once they have received an order for national service and they cannot return to work until they submit an official letter confirming completion of national service.
Employers must report any national who objects to being registered.
Conscripts will be entitled to keep their job while serving, without losing the increments and promotions to which they are otherwise entitled.
Although the Law contemplates that conscripts will receive remuneration while in active service, until official regulations are issued the amounts and other details are not known. For the time being, employers are expected to continue paying their Qatari male employees as normal while they are away serving. For nationals employed in the private sector, the Ministry of Defence will be responsible for paying the difference, if any, between remuneration for national service and their regular salary. In the case of those employed in the public sector, their respective employers will be responsible for paying any such difference. It is not clear whether this means that employers will eventually be relieved of salary obligations for periods of national service. The position should become clear once the regulations are issued.
Probation periods will not be extended by periods of national service. This is significant considering that the maximum probation period allowed by law is six months. Employers may now have to consider revising their probation policy if the probation period is less than six months.
National service will not break or interrupt employment service for any purpose including pension and gratuity calculation. National service during wartime may be treated as double service for retirement benefit purposes.
Any injury incurred while serving will be treated as an occupational injury subject to the laws thereon, and compensation for injury or death (whether during active duty or reserve phase) will be subject to the Military Service Law No. 31 of 2006 as amended.
The Ministry of Defence will form a body called the National Service Authority to administer the Law and the Commander General will issue the orders, rules and decisions necessary to implement the Law.
The training session for the first batch of conscripts, namely university graduates, will be held from 1 April to 1 July 2014. According to military officials the response so far has been very positive. It seems a large number of young Qatari men are already keen to serve their country
"A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a
JOHN F KENNEDY