Muscat: Oman’s Ministry of Manpower has introduced a raft of new regulations to help protect the rights of expat workers in Oman. These include the protection of expats who receive their no objection certificates (NOCs) from being reported as absconding by their employers. The new decision also revealed that any company that makes more than five complaints a month will be investigated by the authorities.
Abdullah Al Bakri, Minister of Manpower, issued ministerial decision No. 270/2018 regarding reporting an absconding expat worker. The decision also included information on the procedures and consequences of reporting an absconding employee.
“The worker shall have the right to object to the report within 60 days from the date of the adoption of the notice, by submitting a written request to the competent department, together with evidence supporting the denial of the complaint,” according to Article 11.
“If the competent department proves that the report is false, the report will be revoked. The ministry may, at the request of another employer, and the consent of the worker, transfer his/her services without recourse to the original employer.”
However, if the report is found to be correct and his/her objection is unjustified, “the worker shall be fined between OMR400 and OMR800”.
Additionally, to file a complaint, the employer must attach a bank statement proving that the worker has received his/her salary up to three months before he/she went missing.
Article 9 detailed the condition in which an employer could be exempt from submitting such documents. If the employee is a domestic worker, then the employer is exempt from submitting all documents, and in that case, needs to only provide proof that the worker received his/her salary in writing.
An absconding report cannot be submitted “if the employer has given the worker a letter of no objection to the transfer of the worker’s services to another employer, and then reports the worker absconding before the end of the period granted to him/her, which is 30 days to transfer his/her services to another employer”, and in the case of a dispute between the employer and the employee arising before filing the absconding report.
Additionally, if a company files “more than five complaints in one month or more than 10 complaints in a year, then the company will be subject to investigation to ensure that it is complying with the labour law and health and safety regulations”.
Furthermore, if the company is found to be not complying with the provisions of the labour law or the regulations, then it will be suspended from receiving any services from the ministry for a year.
According to Articles 7, 10 and 18, business owners must report absconding employees electronically on the ministry’s website, in addition to paying an amount equivalent to the price of a return ticket. If employers fail to follow procedures, then they must pay a fine not exceeding OMR500.
Article 17 looks at cases wherein the employee is found to be working with another employer. “In such a case, the new employer shall require to pay for the departure of the worker and to transfer him/her at his own expense. The new employer shall also be obliged to pay the expenses incurred by the original employer to recruit the worker and to train him/her for the job.”
“The ministry has carried out inspection campaigns to ensure that businesses comply with the provisions of the labour law and to arrest expats who violate it. Article 18 of the law forbids business owners to allow any expat worker who is registered with them to work for someone else. Also, an employer shall not hire an expat who is living in the Sultanate illegally or is licenced to work for someone else,” an official from the ministry said.
Welcoming this, social workers living in Oman said that all these rules will help expats living in Oman. “The rules will protect the employees in cases of disputes,” a social worker said.