NOC does not boost Omanisation rates: Govt unit

Energy Sunday 03/June/2018 22:32 PM
By: Times News Service
NOC does not boost Omanisation rates: Govt unit

Muscat: Oman’s No Objection Certificate (NOC) has not led to an increase in Omanisation rates, according to the government body overseeing the Sultanate’s diversification plans.
The Implementation Support and Follow-Up Unit (ISFU) said in its first annual report, “In 2014, the Omani relevant authorities implemented a rule according to which expatriates who desired to move to a different sponsorship at the end of their contract had to obtain an NOC from their current employer. The NOC, however, did not contribute to protecting companies or increasing the percentage of Omanisation. Restricting the free movement of workers meant that a company had to incur high expenses to recruit expats from abroad by spending on new visas and training.
“The rule also turned out to be a hindrance to a potential recruiter of Omanis as it made expatriates hold on to their jobs,” it added.
“As recommended by Sharakah, the objective of the initiative was to work towards the removal of NOC as suggested by a report published by the International Labour Organisation regarding the ‘Employer-Migrant Relationship in the Middle East’,” the recently released report said.
Describing the journey, the report said: “A notable achievement was that one of the NOC items was amended as recommended by Sharakah.
“According to the amendment, owners are no longer required to personally visit the Directorate of Passports and Residences to confirm they have no objection to the expatriate returning to work in a different company in Oman.”
Sharakah was established by Royal Decree (76/98) in 1998 to continue the government`s commitment and support towards entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in Oman.
The company specifically encourages and supports the development of entrepreneurs and SMEs in the Sultanate.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Shahswar Al Balushi, Head of the Tanfeedh lab and CEO of the Oman Contractors Society, felt that for those who had completed two years in their job, the NOC shouldn't be required, saying, “If an expatriate worker has completed his two-year-long contract and wants to leave his current employer, he must be allowed to leave without the need for an NOC.”
Al Balushi added that a worker who did not complete the two-year contract should not be allowed to obtain an NOC. “The employer has to pay lots of money to bring workers, including work permits and other expenses.”
Looking at the overall impact the NOC law has had on the labour market, Al Balushi said, “The worker obtains experience in the local market, and then he leaves to work in another country. I don’t think this is good for the Omani economy.”
As it stands, in Oman there is a two-year labour ban on expats who fail to acquire an NOC from their current employer to switch jobs. Without the NOC, expats have to leave the country and cannot work in the Sultanate for a period of two years. According to government officials, the rule was implemented to stop expatriates from switching jobs and joining competing firms. The law has continued to have a mixed response among expats and citizens in Oman.
In July 2017, the IFSU launched a Twitter poll asking whether respondents felt the NOC needed to be scrapped. Almost 60 per cent of the poll participants felt it needed to stay.
One expat employee in Oman said at the time, “I had a job interview and a confirmed offer for a better role from another company, but our HR was quite clear about NOC polices: no means no, because they don’t give NOCs to anyone in our company and I had to let go of the new offer that was coming my way.”
Omani national Khalid said, “This regulation has a positive and negative side. Some employers have misused it against expat employees.” Another Omani explained why restrictions should be eased, “We ask that the employee be allowed to move, in order to allow small and medium enterprises to attract experienced staff from the local market.”