Oman expatriate labour ban: Two-year ban to end poaching of foreign workers

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Muscat: Oman government's move to clamp a two-year ban on foreign workers to re-enter the country on a new employment visa will have major implications for corporate sector, feel some in industry.

They say it will affect its ability to hire locally experienced people for business growth, besides blocking the chances of expatriate professionals in earning better perks and procuring lucrative jobs.

However, it will definitely block unhealthy poaching in the corporate sector, especially among rival companies engaged in the same line of business, said businessmen and top-level executives from a cross section of the corporate sector.    

"In my personal view, it is not a proper decision. The corporate sector has several advantages in hiring people with local experience, a good track record and local knowledge," Anwar Ali Sultan, director of W J Towell group, told the Times of Oman.

"It takes quite some time for a new employee to gain experience in the local market. It takes at least six months to one year to obtain a driving licence. All these are important for middle-level and senior-level employees," added Ali Sultan, who also said that he is not aware whether the government departments have discussed the issue with the business community before taking such a decision.

However, the 'two-year ban' on expatriate workforce in Oman is 'positive' and definitely benefits the private sector, according to a senior official at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).

"The decision will help the private sector as it will help minimise the number of hidden businesses that are taking advantage of the current situation," Redha Juma Mohammed Ali Al Saleh, vice-chairman for administration and finance affairs at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), told the Times of Oman.

According to Al Saleh, the decision was taken after consultations with the chamber. "The implementation of this rule was stopped for a while and now it is being implemented once again. We were part of the decision-making process." He said that it will help both the employees and the employers, adding that it allows the company to keep its workforce for two years and make the conditions of employees 'more stable'.

"It will enhance the overall performance of the private sector, and we hope all the parties will cooperate with the authorities to implement the decision," Al Saleh noted.

Echoing a similar view, Nassir bin Salim Al Busaidi, managing director of Oman United Insurance, said that several companies are facing unhealthy competition due to poaching, which, in turn, increases the salary levels and operating cost of companies. "The corporate sector and the economy are suffering (when employees change their jobs for better salaries).

It is for the benefit of the business sector," Al Busaidi said, adding, "If a company wants to hire experienced people, let them bring them from outside the country, rather than poaching from other companies. This harms the business sector."

Ramesh Mani, chief executive officer of Majan Glass, which has an employee strength of 240, said that the ban should be introduced on a legitimate basis. A ban on the basis of  any criminal offence is meaningful. "A professional has every right to sell his services.

This restricts choices of companies in taking in people and the companies may end up losing," Mani said, adding, "It is not going to be a win-win situation, neither for the employee nor the employer."

"This (the new regulation) will affect the growth of companies. Since most of overseas appointments are on the basis of telephone interviews, we can come to know the actual skill level and expertise of an employee only after he joins the organisation.

And if the company management feels that the employee's performance is below their expectations, the company has to remove him from service," said B. Rajan, general manager of Al Jadid Exchange, which employs 170 people. He added that the company managements are in a better position to know their prospective employees if taken from within Oman. It will have an adverse effect on those who seek to change jobs, force them to continue with their job and the employees will not enjoy the bargaining power.

Another leading businessman, who did not want to be named, said that it was no surprise to him as the same system prevailed in the country six years ago. "It will stop people from jumping from one organisation to another. That practice will come to an end now," added the businessman.  

Ajay Bhati, managing partner of Lighthouse, a leading business consulting firm, believes that such laws are not beneficial for either Omani business community or for expatriate workers.

"Oman is ranked 47th by a World Bank report (Doing Business) because of its policies that are not supportive of the business community and the prevalence of red tape in the government system. It is ranked 77th in terms of ease of  starting a business," Bhati told the Times of Oman.

"The decision will promote vindictive practices like forced labour and making someone work against his or her will. For example, if any expatriate wants to leave a company and join another (in Oman), the employer would enforce a discharge and the employee will not be able to come back to Oman for two years. Therefore, in order to continue working here in the country, he or she would have to work with the same employer even if the working conditions are not good and/or force him or her to compromise on career aspirations," he added.

Column: Will the 2-year ban work in the best interests of Oman?


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Am kenyan lady who is workin currently ad housemaid this new rule it wont soothe me because most of us housemaid who normaly enroll in oman most us are educated and the reason why we prefer to work as hosemaid is because agents back at they usually charge a lot of money that u cannot afford if u want to as waitress, cleaner, sales lady/man l came here in oman and l have applied job as waitress in one of the biggest hotels in muscat oman so my question is l will be deny da chance to work as waitress after finishin my contract with my sponsor

My company (M/s Galfar Engineering & Contracting SAOG) has given one month notice and terminated my contract without mentioning any reason before completion of my two years contract. Regarding this I made a written complain in labor department (Ruby Office) and informed to my company. Looking the seriousness of Matter Company first threatened me. While I had not bow, then company HR Department called me and made a compromise and they gave me two month salary in advance without work and they have not recovered Furniture Advance which was almost OR 2700/00. By the way at that Time Company has not given any NOC to me. Please suggest how can I get employment VISA from the other company.

It creates an unhealthy competition of hiring expatriates among the employer and dissatisfaction of job amongst the employees. One must have evry right to sell his/her service.

this not good news for employers,this good news only for Omani,

Gudmorning every one. in this new oman law are very dangerous in medium level company staffs and labour bc i am in new in oman. i am a civil enhineer .i have 5years exp.but my company did not give my salary propetly.i want good company while get a good company how i can change my visa. after did nor pay my salary in my sponsor how see my famiy. after how i eat food here. then cintinue tis lsw after i dead here.but better for medium level company sponsor

Imposing such bans can impact people in Countries like UAE...Having the same in Oman is not wise move since it is already lagging behind

Now, I think Oman is going to lose the expert brain and hands. Those experienced people now unable to get better wages here will knock at the doors of the other countries. Consequently, this Oman will get deprived from the people who could play a key-role in the construction of this Sultanate.

labour ban time shoud be one year.

I had worked in Oman for last 5 years and I recently came back to India. This new rule which will be in effect from 1st July is only one example. There had been many changes in local laws which are not in favour of expat employees. Minimum salary of 600 OMR to get family status, Visit visa made 1 month instead of 3 months, no resident card to employee parents ( which was earlier given ) hike @ 200% to .300% in wages of national employees as against expats show that Oman wants to cut down on expat population in coming few years and provide more opportunities to their country people. Also they are threatened by boom in UAE market and they are afraid to loose well established and experienced professionals once they start jumping to UAE market. Ofcourse in UAE this kind of ban for 6 months and in Qatar there is ban of 2 years already. But this surely is result of top companies since they are loosing employees @ higher rate.

An employee would rather take an offer from a company from another country rather than to sign for another 2 years contract with the company who doesnt even follow labor laws about giving the proper salary and other important benifits. it will be worth taking risk. We already started to love this country but we have to leave. this is sad but we wont have better choice. Companies from another country will offer us good salary due to skills and experience we acquired from working here, so, God Bless us.

Is this applicable for those who are going out from oman due to unavailability of job in company or completed of projects and no new projects with them and send by current employer ? if this applicable for these , the competent workers also will suffer.

II have an offer letter frm one company and Im planing to resign the present job.the nthe new company promise me that they have there any problem in issuing new visa if I leave the company may last..bcoz I heard that ministry will stop issuing visas w.e.f june1

I left Oman in 2013 SEP , as it mention this rule will effective from 1st july so does this ban applicable to those also who left oman before 1st july ????