New Social Insurance Law Enter into Force on 3rd January
Director of Customer Management at the General Retirement and Social Insurance Authority (GRSIA) Ali Al Kuwari affirmed that the implementation of Social Insurance Law No. 1 for 2022 will start Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Al Kuwari said that the GRSIA has coordinated with all registered employers to upload the housing allowance value determined for their employees through the digital services portal on the GRSIA's website as of Oct. 2022, as a trial phase during the transitional period until the law enters into force to stand on the efficiency and preparedness of the systems in preparation to start working with the law.
He indicated that the GRSIA is fully prepared and ready to implement the provisions of the Social Insurance Law as of the date of its enforcement corresponding to Tuesday so that all employers subject to the law's provisions - whether registered with the GRSIA according to the provision of the Law No. 24 to 2002 on Retirement and Pensions or those which the provisions of the Social Insurance Law apply as of the date of its enforcement - can update or register their (employer data - employees' information) and receive inquiries or requests of the insured regarding the law electronically through the digital services portal of the employers on the GRSIA's website. In addition, the GRSIA employees will receive training to carry out the tasks assigned to them according to their competences.
Al Kuwari revealed the most prominent advantages that the new Social Insurance Law will provide, saying that it will expand the scope of insurance coverage to include all citizens working in the private sector, add the housing allowance to the salary of contributions account to include (basic salary + social allowance + housing allowance), and allow the civilian pensioners to combine the pension and the job salary in case that they join the private sector, except in the case of reappointment in the same entity in which they were working before their retirement.
He added that the most prominent advantages provided by the new Social Insurance Law are the exclusion of the age requirement for the insured women, reduction of the pension if the resignation is due to caring for one or more children (kens) with disabilities, and the calculation of the pension of the insured citizens in the private sector on an average salary for the last three years instead of five years under the current law.
He also noted that the new law set a new minimum pension for the insured at no less than QR 15,000 in three cases namely: death, disability, and reaching the age of retirement (according to the age stated in the employment regulations to which the insured is subject to, with no less than 60 years). He added that the GRSIA would grant the extra period bonus to those whose actual service period exceeds 30 years in the event of termination of service due to disability, death, or reaching the age of 60, calculating the extra years as of the law's enforcement date on January 3, 2023.
GRSIA's Director of Customer Management said that the new law would contribute to increasing the share of the widow to 100 percent of the pension in the case of the absence of other beneficiaries, the permissibility of granting a regular bonus for all or some of the pensions by a decision of the Cabinet, granting loans to pensioners by the established regulations, and permissibility of adding some salary elements to the contributions salary account by a decision of the Cabinet.
Regarding the new categories to fall under the umbrella of the new law, Al Kuwari told QNA that the insurance umbrella would include new categories that were not covered by Law No. 24 for 2002 on Retirement and Pension, indicating that the new categories include: Qatari employees subject to the provisions of the Labor Law, Qatari employees in companies that are exempted from labor law and have special job regulations, Qatari employees working in GCC countries companies and entities that are not covered by the unified system for extending insurance protection, and GCC countries citizens working in entities subject to the State of Qatar's Labor Law and companies exempted from labor law and have employment systems specified for the State of Qatar.
GRSIA Director of Customer Management Ali Al Kuwari added that the categories - to which the provisions of the law apply optionally - will be self-employed Qataris who are subject to the income bracket system, namely (employers - those with free professions such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, and others), adding the Cabinet will issue a decision specifying the categories to which the system will apply along with the subscription conditions, controls and procedures.
With regard to the differences between overtime gratuity and end-of-service gratuity, Al Kuwari said that the overtime gratuity is granted from the civil pension fund in accordance with the controls stipulated in the law and what will be determined by the regulations, while the end-of-service gratuity is granted by the employee's employer based on human resources systems applicable in each entity, and it is possible to receive both the overtime gratuity and the end-of-service gratuity for those who meet the eligibility conditions for each of them.
GRSIA Director of Customer Management pointed out that the term "salary of contributions account" in the new social insurance law means the basic salary or wage of the insured plus the social allowance and housing allowance in accordance with the provisions of the law.
In response to a question about the difference between salary in the Retirement and Pensions Law and the salary of contributions account in the Social Insurance Law, Al Kuwari said that the salary - according to the provisions of the Retirement and Pensions Law No. 24 of 2002 - is the basic salary plus the social allowance. And as of the date of enforcement of the Social Insurance Law No. 1 of 2022 on 1/3/2023, the housing allowance will be added to the salary of contributions account to become the basic salary plus the social allowance and the housing allowance.
Responding to another question about what is meant by the maximum salary limit for the salary of contributions account, he said that the maximum salary limit for the salary of contributions account is QR100,000, as of the date of the issuance of Social Insurance Law No. 1 of 2022 on 4/19/2022, for those whose salary is less than this limit. and if it exceeds this limit, the increase is not considered. The salary of contributions account, which exceeds QR 100,000, is fixed as on 4/19/2022, any increase received will not be taken into account, and thus the housing allowance will not be added to those in this category.
With regard to the percentage of contributions to the Social Insurance Law, Al Kuwari said that the monthly subscription is calculated for the insured on the basis of the salary of contributions account (basic salary plus social allowance and housing allowance) at a rate of 21 percent, distributed as follows: 7 percent is deducted from the insured's salary of contributions account, and 14 percent is borne by the employer.
Asked about the date for paying contributions to the civil pension fund, the director of the Department said that the employer is obligated to pay the monthly subscription to the fund as of the first day of the following month due for it and not later than the fifth day of the following month, saying that the delay in paying subscriptions and any other sums due to the fund carries a delay fine of 2 percent per month of the overdue amounts for the period from the due date of payment until the date of payment.
As for the rules for adding the housing allowance to the salary of the subscription calculation in the Social Insurance Law, Al Kuwari pointed out that the value of the housing allowance for which the contribution is paid for the insured, whether in the government or private sector, should not exceed QR 6000, and if the value of the allowance exceeds this limit, subscription for the allowance to the aforementioned value will be reduced, and the salary of contributions account of the insured after adding the housing allowance should not exceed the maximum for the salary of contributions account, which is QR 100,000. If the salary of contributions account after adding the housing allowance exceeds this limit, a part of the housing allowance shall be added to the extent that complements that limit.
Speaking to QNA, the GRSIA Director of Customer Management Ali Al Kuwari said that the employer bears the payment of the contribution due for the housing allowance for the completed service period for a period of 15 years at the end of the service of the insured, due to reaching the retirement age, or because of disability or death. Otherwise, the insured shall bear the payment of the subscription for the housing allowance, or the contributions he paid for that allowance shall be refunded to him.
Regarding the employer's failure to register or subscribe for all or some of its employees in accordance with the provisions of the Social Insurance Law, Al Kuwari explained that the employer is obligated to pay an additional amount of 10 percent of the total value of real contributions due if that particular entity does not register or subscribe for all or some of its employees or workers or did not pay subscriptions on the basis of real salaries or wages, as well as delay fines and penalties stipulated by the law, in order to urge all employers to commit to supplying data and paying the subscriptions of their employees on an ongoing basis to ensure their rights.
Regarding the obligations of the employer to which the provisions of the Social Insurance Law apply as of the date of its implementation, Al Kuwari said that the private sector employer that is not subject to Law No. 24 of 2002 on retirement and pensions is obligated to submit an application for its registration with the Authority electronically through the digital services portal for employers on the authority's website, within 30 days from the date the law came into effect on Jan. 3, 2023, attached to it a copy of the establishment registration card, commercial register, commercial license and articles of association and articles of incorporation and specifying who is responsible for the actual management of the employer at the authority, and the data of those authorized to deal with the Authority, in addition to the registration of Qatari employees or workers with the Authority within 90 days from the date the law comes into effect, accompanied by a copy of the appointment decision, the job offer, or the work contract for the employee or worker after it has been ratified by the competent authority in the country, in addition to notifying the Authority of the insureds data on a monthly basis, and of any amendment or change to it during the month, according to the means approved by the Authority.
Al Kuwari noted that the agencies registered with the Authority must notify it of the personal, employment, educational and social data of the insured within 90 days of the implementation of the law, as the employers currently registered with the Authority and subject to the provisions of Law No. 24 for the year 2002 regarding retirement and pensions, are required to update their registration data and documents with the Authority electronically through the electronic portal for employers on the Authority's website, within 14 days from the date the law comes into effect, according to the forms and means approved by the Authority.
The data of the insured must be updated with the Authority within 90 days from the date the law comes into effect, according to the means specified by the Authority, and that data include personal number, occupational, educational and marital status means of communication, he added.
Al Kuwari indicated that employers that are not registered with the Authority, whether governmental or private, must be registered (in the event that there is a Qatari employee or more on a regular basis), within 30 days from the date the law came into force, or from the date of establishment of the entity if it was later than the date the law came into force. He also confirmed the authority's right to register the insured with his employer if the employer did not commit to registering him with the authority within 30 days from the date of his joining the work, based on the inspection report, and it shall notify his employer of his registration, contributions and other amounts due, and the employer may appeal against the Authority's decision.
The Director of Customer Management pointed out that the Qatari worker or employee may apply for registration with the authority electronically, through the electronic services portal for citizens on the authority's website, and if the employer does not commit to registering him with the authority within 30 from the date of his joining the work, and in the event that the provisions of the law are proven to be applicable to the worker, the Authority shall take the procedures for his registration with it, and notify the employer of that, and the employer may object in this regard.
In his interview with QNA, the Director of Customer Management at the GRSIA stressed the need for employers registered with the authority to keep files, records, books and documents related to the law implementation electronically in line with the authority's strategy for digital transformation and electronic linking with employers, so that the employer can provide the authority with any document in a timely manner.
He indicated that the employers that register after the date the law came into force should create an employer file that includes data and documents on the electronic link of the e-services portal for employers: http://www.grsia.gov.qa/ar/Pages/employers-services.aspx (Registration data with the Authority, details of amounts paid to the fund, and data of those insured with it) In addition to creating the social insurance file for the insured: it includes data and documents on the electronic link of the e-services portal for employers: http://www.grsia.gov.qa/ar/Pages/individuals-services.aspx so that these files are the basis for the payment of contributions, the settlement of pension and all insurance benefits, and to preserve the rights of all parties.
The Director of Customer Management at GRSIA stated that if the pensioner is appointed or re-appointed in one of the government sector entities subject to the provisions of this law, the pension will be disbursed to him during his work period, the contribution for his new period of service shall be mandatory, and if his salary is less than his pension, the difference shall be paid to him from the Fund.
He added that his pension is calculated at the end of his new service, on the basis of the salary of the pension calculation for that period, and it is paid to him in addition to his suspended pension, provided that that period, other than in cases of death or disability, is not less than 8 years, if the period of new active service is less than this period, only his suspended pension will be paid to him, and he shall be entitled to one-time compensation for that period in accordance with the provisions of this law.
He also pointed out that in the event that the pensioner is appointed or re-appointed in a private sector entity that is subject to the provisions of this law, then he is given the choice between continuing to pay the pension and not being subject to the provisions of this law, between the suspension of the payment of the pension and compliance with the provisions of this Law, in case of choice to be subject to the provisions of this Law, the same shall be treated as the preceding case. In any event, the contribution shall be from the date of submission of the application to be subject to the provisions of this Law, and he shall not include the period prior to submission of the application.
The Director of Customer Management also noted that if the private pensioner is reappointed to the same employer prior to the end of his service, the pension shall be discontinued during the period of his employment, the contribution for his new term of service is compulsory and, if his salary is lower than his pension, the difference is paid from the fund and his pension is settled in the same way.
He said that if the pensioner's service due to death or disability was terminated, the employer would pay the contributions due to the housing allowance for the period supplementing 8 years, housing allowance shall be calculated as a pension, since in the event of the end-of-service of the pensioner who returns to work other than death and disability, payment of the contributions due to the housing allowance shall be incurred for the period referred to in the preceding paragraph or reimburse the Fund only for contributions to that allowance, his pension shall be adjusted after the exclusion of the housing allowance from the pension calculation salary.
With regard to the benefits provided to women in the Social Insurance Act, he revealed that women were exempted from the age requirement and reduced pension in case of resignation to care for one or more children with disabilities, plus an increase to the widow's share to 100 per cent of the pension in the absence of other beneficiaries, and benefit from the pension without reduction in retirement at the age of 55.
With regard to those covered by the income bracket system, he said that a decision would be issued by the Council of Ministers specifying the categories covered by the system, the conditions, controls and procedures for contributing to it and the adjustment of the pension, since participation in that system would be optional.
According to Al Kuwari, the use of early pension is required to be at least 50 years of age and 25 years' duration of participation, including an actual period of service of not less than 20 years, the conditions for early pension entitlement will be determined in accordance with the schedule of a decision of the Council of Ministers.
At the end of his interview with QNA, Al Kuwari asserted that the umbrella of social insurance provides the necessary protection for the insured or his eligible persons in the face of disability, injury, ageing, natural death or accident, in accordance with specific conditions and criteria and in conformity with the principle of social solidarity.
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