Muscat city
A view of the Muscat city. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The recently issued labour law in Oman, promulgated by Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, aims to balance the rights and responsibilities between employers and employees, and create a more equitable work environment.

The law outlines specific circumstances under which an employer can terminate an employee's service, enhancing the clarity and transparency of labour practices in the country. Known as Labour Law 53/2023, this legislation, issued via Royal Decree, includes Article 43, a clause that specifically focuses on the conditions of employee termination

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Laws for termination

According to the new law, several circumstances can lead to an employee's termination. Firstly, if an employee fails to meet the required performance standards, they are given a six-month grace period to improve. If the performance level remains unsatisfactory after this period, termination of service can take place. However, if the employee is Omani, the company must replace him or her with another Omani national.

Secondly, the law allows for termination if there is a partial or total shutdown of the business, if the business declares bankruptcy, if there is a reduction in the scope of its activity, or if an alternative production system is implemented that impacts the number of required staff.

Thirdly, the law outlines that economic factors may necessitate employee termination. Under such circumstances, the employer must submit an application to a committee within the Ministry of Labour for approval, ensuring that staff reductions are carried out to a degree that allows the business to continue operating and mitigates the risk of bankruptcy.

Protection of expat workers

The new labour law also features various protections for expatriate workers. It prohibits employers from keeping an employee's passport or private documents without written consent. If an employee is dismissed, they can submit a complaint to the competent authority within 30 days of notification.

Other articles cover employee leave entitlements, including an annual leave of no less than thirty days after six months of employment, and the right to combine annual leaves based on mutual agreement.

Non-Omani workers are entitled to a return air ticket to their home country, and they are eligible for their full wage during official holidays. The employer may also grant unpaid special leave at the worker's request, subject to conditions.

Grace period

The law mandates a six-month grace period for performance improvement before termination and the need for employers to create an attractive work environment. A mechanism for the transfer of workers to a different project is detailed, as is the requirement for employers to hire Omanis for the old project with the same wage and benefits.

Additionally, employers are allowed to temporarily assign workers to other institutions, and women are granted an hour for childcare during the first year after childbirth. The law permits workers to take up temporary jobs and changes in shifts based on ability.

A stipulation requires sick leave applications from private hospitals to be approved by the Ministry of Health, and legal actions are taken against employees providing fake medical certificates.

Employers are required to implement an evaluation system and avoid overloading employees with work that could potentially harm them. This new legislation represents a significant step towards improved labour rights and protections in Oman.