About 70% of the economically active population is engaged in industry (largely oil-related), commerce, and services. Of the remainder, about 10% work in the agricultural sector and 20% in government. The workforce totaled 280,122, or 53.7% of the population, in 1998. No labor may be recruited without the approval of the Department of Labor, and vacancies must be offered first to Qataris, second to Arabs, and only then to foreigners, who comprised 85% of the workforce in 1992. In 2001, the unemployment rate was 2.7%.
Trade unions are prohibited, and strikes are permitted only after the case has been presented to the Labor Department of the Ministry of Civil Service and an agreement cannot be reached. Government employees, security forces employees, domestic workers, and members of an employer's family are not permitted to strike, nor are workers in public health or security if such a strike would harm the public or lead to property damage. Workers are prohibited from engaging in collective bargaining.
The standard workweek is 48 hours, although most government offices set a 36 hour week. Children as young as 15 may work with parental permission, and some young non-Qataris work in family businesses. However, youths of any nationality do not frequently work in Qatar. While the labor law gives the Amir the authority to set a minimum wage, he has not chosen to do so. Enforcement of safety standards is lax.