Oman to penalise firms flouting Ramadan timings
June 14, 2015 | 11:03 PM
by Tariq Al Haremi

Muscat: Fines will be imposed on companies found violating the ministerial decision regarding work hour restrictions during the Holy Month of Ramadan, an official of the Ministry of Manpower has said.

The Omani Labour Law stipulates that companies face a fine and may even be sent to court for repeated violation, the official said.

The Ministry recently announced a six-working-hour day or thirty-hour week for Muslim employees of private companies during the Holy Month of Ramadan, which begins this week.

Some private sector employees had voiced their frustration over their companies not following the rules imposed by the Ministry and being made to work for more than six hours during the Holy Month.

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The Ministry has assured employees that anyone not following the decision will be punished. “Companies do not have an excuse since it is a clear law by the Ministry,” stressed the official.

According to the Omani Labour Law, Part Four, Chapter Three, Article 68: “The maximum work hours during Ramadan shall be six hours a day or thirty hours a week for Muslim employees. The Ministry may determine the timing of the work hours.”

Penalty for such a violation is elaborated in keeping with the Omani Labour Law, Part Ten, Article 117: “Whoever violates the provisions of Chapter Three of Part Four shall be punished with fine not exceeding OMR100 and the fine shall be multiplied by the number of workers who are the subject of such violation and penalty shall be doubled in case of repetition of such violation.”

The Ministry official reassured that if employees are being unjustly made to overwork, exceeding the time set by the Ministry during the Holy Month, they can file a complaint at the Directorate General of Labour Welfare at the Ministry of Manpower.

“As long as there is proof that the company is violating the rules or the employee has been subjected to extra working hours, an initial warning (with fine) will be issued to the company,” said the official.

“If the company violates the rule again, then we will send them to court,” he added.

A private sector employee working in an Oman-based travel agency expressed his irritation at his company which made him and another employee work for up to 11 hours a day during the previous Ramadan.

“They say we are a private company, so why should we follow government company policy in Ramadan. They say we will schedule the Ramadan timings and you have to follow these,” said the expatriate employee, who wished not to be named.

‘For Muscat only’

“They also said that Ministry’s rules are for Muscat only,” he added. He also said that they cannot do anything but follow the company’s rules which were also implemented during last Ramadan.

Mohammad Kabir Ahmed, Managing Director of United Dreams LLC, said the workers should not be made to work for more than six hours a day. “We should follow the Ministry of Manpower’s rules and regulations,” he said.

He also said the Ministry of Manpower should carry out regular inspections during the Holy Month and urged employees to file a complaint if they are being made to work overtime. “Many employees are not aware that they should work for only six hours and because of that, in some cases, small companies take advantage,” he said.

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