Muscat: Scrapping the practice of employers awarding No Objections Certificates (NOCs) to departing employees could hurt Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and many argue that loopholes in the law must be covered instead of abolishing it altogether.
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Several SME owners in Oman have raised concerns that scrapping the NOC law may backfire as employees will tend to change employers swiftly providing no security to employers.
According to most employers, such uncertainty is unwelcome in already challenging times, where SMEs are struggling to compete with larger organisations that could easily cut profit margins and provide better incentives to employees. This would empower larger organisations, which would act as lucrative destinations for high performing SME employees and are likely to cause a brain drain from smaller companies.
Ahmed, who runs a service company in the oil and gas sector, said lifting the law completely would be chaotic for Omani markets.
“It is very hard to keep a good employee at an SME, especially when a large organisation comes knocking. Everyone wants a better pay and facilities, but SMEs in Oman can’t afford to do that. If this practice is scrapped, larger companies will employ the best expat talent and we will be left with little expertise, therefore the larger companies will win most contracts and SMEs will hardly survive,” he explained.
He added that the government policy must be such that SMEs can compete with large organisations, rather than existing due to forced government laws, referring to the government regulation of providing a certain percentage to local SMEs.
Most experts worry that although an open market will attract exceptional talent from around the world, larger entities stand to benefit the most from this, which in turn will give them an undue advantage over smaller institutions.
“Most SMEs need the NOC law if they have to retain their employees, because both in terms of career growth and incentives, larger organisations are always rated higher in an employee’s view,” said an SME owner that deals in engineering products.
Shazia Jahazeb, Managing director of Four Star technologies believes that any regulation change must keep in mind concerns of both employers and employees. "Scrapping the NOC altogether will be unfair to the employees considering the amount required to get an expet to Oman. Keeping the NOC law as it stands now wouldnt be helpful either as employers misuse it quite often," she said. Shazia proposes that the NOC law to bind the employee to the company, after which the employee must be free to change or continue.