Muscat: Oman’s Ministry of Labour is committed to protecting the rights of employees and safeguarding the interests of the employers.
Despite the clarity in Oman’s Labour Law, many workers and employers end up fighting legal wrangles that could cost thousands of Omani rials and this could be avoided if proper legal advice is sought, according to Shaima Al Mahrouqi, a legal expert on labour law.
According to the annual report of the Ministry of Labour for 2021, the number of individual labour complaints received were 24,220. The majority of labour complaints were around non-payment of salary, final settlement, non-issuance of travel ticket to home country, compensation for unfair dismissal, not honouring end-of-service benefits and unfair dismissal. There were also complaints of non-payment of overtime wages, trouble in transferring sponsorship and holding passports.
According to the report from the ministry, it was able to settle 50 percent of the complaints amicably while 32 percent were referred to the labour court.
Detailing further on the prominent issues, Shaima said: “From my experience, I would like to point out some key observations that the employer and the employee must pay attention to. The employee is given special protection by the Labour Law and he must abide by the duties according to Article (27) of the Omani Labor Law. It is important that the employee is acquainted with the labour law and the internal company regulations, which may define the duties and rights of the worker and the company in a clear and simplified manner as stipulated by the Labour Law.”
Shaima added: “Before signing the work contract, it is necessary for the employee to review the contract and, if needed, seek advice from the lawyer to go through the terms of the contract. The employee should have a copy of his contract, whether it is registered with the Ministry of Labour or an unregistered contract, in order to preserve his right in the event of any claim arising against the employer.”
She said that any claims of the employee should be through official means while documenting the claim, like an official e-mail.
Shaima said: “It is necessary for the employee to realise that if there is any claim against the employer, then it should be done within a year from the date the employee becomes entitled. The right to claim will lapse if delayed by statute of limitations.”
Shaima, who works as a lawyer at Al-Qalhati and Al-Masrouri Law Firm and Legal Consultations, suggested that “if any employee is accused of any crime at workplace, then it is important to seek support of legal help through a lawyer to avoid any arbitrary decision taken against the employee.”
She said that companies who have more than 50 employees, it is mandatory to put in a bylaw that regulates the workflow and clarifies the company’s duties and rights. “The bylaw should be approved by the concerned authorities and put up on the notice board,” said Shaima.
The legal expert said: “Due to the tough economic conditions, which has affected all sectors, there has been an increase in termination of employees. If the employer decides to terminate the service of an employee, a legitimate reason for the termination must be presented and the worker should be given an advance notice of at least one month, depending on the nature of the contract.”
She added: “For the success of any institution, it is necessary to appoint either an efficient human resources employee or to establish a legal department that is aware of all developments of Oman Labour Law and the Omanisation percentage needed for the respective company.”
She said: “There are a lot of mistakes employers make despite the clarity of the law. In the event a worker commits one of the crimes punishable in the Omani Penal Code, the procedures stipulated in Article (32) of the Labour Law must be followed, and in the event the employer does not follow and terminates the worker, it would be considered an arbitrary dismissal.”
According to the annual report of the Ministry of Labour for 2021, the number of terminated workers in the private sector reached 7,112 workers.
Shaima said: “In complex cases, a legal department in a company can seek legal consultations from established law firms for justice to prevail and the rights of company safeguarded and employee’s welfare also taken care.”