Muscat: A senior official with the Manpower Ministry believes that recent amendments to the Omani labour laws, through Royal Decree, would help cut down on the irregular and illegal workforce in the country.

"The amendments are aimed to reduce the labour law violators and those who work illegally in the country," Salim Bin Saeed Al Badi, Director General of Labour Care at the Manpower Ministry, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview.

"We are confident that the growing number of illegal labour force in the country will come down drastically with the implementation of the amendment," he added.

Under the amendment, those who employ illegal workers or whoever employs non-Omani employees, not licensed to work for him, would be held accountable along with the employees.


He said that authorities are confident that under the new regulations all the employers will legalise their employees' legal status either by providing them work, or through the transfer of their sponsorship to new sponsors, or they would send their employees back to their country.

"Subsequently, these actions would help reduce illegal workforce at the same time create more job for the national manpower," Al Badi said.

He also hoped that with the new provisions, certain forms of human trafficking and forced labour would be curbed.

He added that with the reduction in illegal foreign workforce in the country, not only the economy will get a boost but also the crime rate would come down. "There are several cases where those without employment resort to crime for financial gains," he said.

Dispelling fears that have emanated from labour raids, Al Badi said that the labour law aims to care for the interests of the employer and the employees and to assure the balance between rights and mutual obligations between them.

Grace period

He revealed that serious employers have been given a grace period of until the end of December 2009, to set right the status of all their employees. "The ministry is keen to take into account the interests of the employers and the employees in applying the amended provisions of labour law," he said.

He agreed that there were cases in which casual expatriate workers were completing various projects, but added that contractors would be allowed to complete their work.

"The Ministry will allow the committed enterprises to implement their projects with the assistance of these illegal employees until the end of the year," he added.

He revealed that 160 labour inspectors were trained to carry out inspection at the private enterprise in the country.

"They are trained at the Higher College of Technology here as well as in Singapore and Italy," Al Badi said.