Employment contract should be just, fair and reasonable



My job contract says that I have to serve a notice period of six months before leaving the job and my employer has the privilege of paying me one month's salary if they are not satisfied. The contract also says that I am not allowed to work in Oman for the next three years and will not be allowed to work in the GCC region wherever the company has its offices. May I know whether such contracts hold any significance and can an employer put such restrictions on the employee?

Every contract or agreement should provide a level playing ground for both the contracting parties. Then only can it be called fair, just and reasonable. In your case, your employer has deprived you of that level playing ground and you signed the agreement (under duress or otherwise). The fact remains is that you have signed the agreement and it is binding on you, particularly with respect to the notice period.

Many employers tend to put certain impossible conditions like restricting the employee from working anywhere under the sky and totally prohibiting him/her from engaging in similar professions. One can only say that there is no limit to wishful thinking. How can your employer prevent you from getting employed anywhere in the GCC? Your employer is not a pan-GCC Government or inter-GCC supreme authority and there is nothing your employer can do to prevent you from getting employed anywhere in the GCC.

Similarly, if you are a doctor, what other profession can you practise if you are terminated from your present employment? Will you become a tailor or vehicle mechanic for the next three years? Your employer has very little options even if you leave your present job and get yourself employed with another entity or sponsor in Oman. What best your employer could do is to file a suit against you for breach of contract and the court will take appropriate decisions based on merits of the case and the facts and figures submitted by both parties.

Such terms and conditions in employment agreements are in contravention of the free trade concept, WTO stipulations and international rules.

My salary is OMR470 plus medical benefits and I understand that as per the new rule, I cannot apply for a family visa for my mother. I wanted to ask you if I can show a joint income of mine and my husband's together, which makes a total of OMR1,000? Can I show my husband's documents along with mine and apply for a family visa for my mother?

The new regulations say that the monthly income of the applicant (who is going to sponsor the dependant) shall be OMR600  or above to be eligible for family status (including family joining applications). If you go by the text of the Regulations, the scenario visualised by you is not possible, since the regulations speak about individual income and not family income. However, as the issuing authority, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) is empowered to grant exemptions to certain rules and regulations in genuine cases. So it is better that you address this issue to the ROP through your company's public relations officer or the HR department.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this column are for general guidance purposes only. They are based on facts presented to us and are not substituted for expert legal advice. Readers are advised to seek legal assistance for specific legal issues. Times of Oman and Khalifa Al Hinai Advocates & Legal Consultancy do not assume  any responsibility towards anyone on this matter.

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