practice area articles
By Gordon Barr, Laya Al Hareeri, Ghazal Hawamdeh and Roxanne Vesuvala
Back to International Employment Law
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2020
Abolition of the No Objection Certificate Requirement
From 1 January 2021, the no objection certificate ("NOC") requirement is to cease. The current requirement stipulates that for expatriates to move jobs to another Oman-based employer, they must either obtain a NOC from the original employer or leave the jurisdiction on termination of their employment and not return to Oman to work for 2 years. Employers and employees should take advice as to how the new regime will work in practice as employees will need their current employer to confirm that an orderly termination of the original employment has occurred to transfer an existing visa or for a new visa to be issued.
Termination of employment as a result of the impact of Coronavirus
The recent decisions of the Supreme Committee dealing with Oman's response to the pandemic established that employers may dismiss expatriates who could be repatriated upon payment of all contractual dues up to the end of their notice periods (including an end of service gratuity). Formerly, terminations on any ground other than an Article 40 of the Labour Law ground (akin to gross negligence or misconduct) typically gave rise to an additional compensatory payment of between 3 – 6 months' gross salary (uncapped).
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2019
Extension of recruitment ban
The Ministerial Decree, No. 38 of 2018, issued by the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) imposing a temporary ban on the recruitment of expatriates in a number of professions in the private sector was extended at the end of July 2018 and further extended in November 2018 (effective start of February 2019), each time for an additional 6 month period. The original decree applies to 87 roles across numerous business sectors and includes, but is not limited to, Information Technology Specialists, Insurance Agents, Engineers, Advertising Agents, Technicians, HR Specialists. The latest extension has added workers in the construction, cleaning and workshop sectors and purchase and sales representatives.
This ban does not affect expatriates who are already employed in the aforementioned list and generally does not apply to expatriates whose labour permits and/or residency visas are expired and need to be renewed.
The ministerial decree does not apply to companies that are both registered with the General Authority for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises and insured by the General Authority for Social Insurance (PASI).
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2018
Wage Protection System Updated
From November 2017, companies in Oman have been required to adopt the Ministry of Manpower’s new wage protection system which aims to ensure that employees are paid as per their employment contracts and on a timely basis.
The Ministry of Manpower confirmed that in cooperation with the Central Bank of Oman it has upgraded the wage protection system to ensure stability of work at private sector establishments and enhance the development of systems and services offered to employers and employees.
All organisations in Oman are subject to the new regime and had 3 months to ensure that their work systems follow the new payment regulations and conform to the new system.
The suppressed economic environment has seen the authorities in Oman tighten access to some jobs for non-Omani workers. Ministerial Decision No. 289 of 2017 prohibited new expat staff being taken on at professional skills development centres. Expat staff already employed at such centres will not have their permits renewed when they expire. Meanwhile Ministerial Decision 187 of 2017 and 192 of 2017 saw a suspension on using part time expat workers on construction sites between June and November 2017. Ministers have issued general warnings to all private companies that a failure to meet Omanisation quotas will result in the loss of government benefits.
Expectations for 2018
In 2017 a new Labour Law was anticipated but did not materialize. It is not certain if one will be introduced in 2018. It also remains to be seen whether the government will end the requirement for a No Objection Certificate (“NOC”).
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2017
Draft amendment to Labour Law
A draft Labour Law has been in circulation for a few years but has not been published. This law (if enacted) would bring about changes to the Omani Labour Law and would also have a chapter specific to Oil and Gas companies with special provisions for employees working in this field.
It is still not clear whether this will be published in 2017 or not.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2016
Key developments from 2016
There were no key employment or labour law developments in 2016.