Employers warned against hiring runaway workers

Muscat: Amid a new law that defines ‘absconders’ in the Sultanate, the Ministry of Manpower has warned employers against hiring ‘runaway’ expatriate workers.

An official at the ministry said, “It is not permissible to provide jobs to workers other than those contracted by the company.”

According to Oman’s labour law, an employer other than the sponsor or work outside the jurisdiction of their job profile shall be punished both with jail and fine.

The official said that the ministry, in cooperation with the Royal Oman Police (ROP) and the civic authorities, has tightened inspections in a bid to root out illegal workforce in the country.

“Raids are being carried out at different places, including offices, private organisations and specific dwellings where large groups of such workers reside,” he said.

On Wednesday, 44 expatriate workers, including 30 women, were rounded up by an inspection team from the ministry for violating the provisions of labour law.

“The workers were arrested in Seeb, Bausher and Muttrah,” the official said.

In the previous weekend, 377 expat workers were arrested in a pre-dawn swoop in Ruwi and Hamriya, carried out jointly by the ROP and the ministry officials.

“Most of these workers were found to have neither valid work permits or documents to prove their legitimacy in residing in the country,” said the official.

Many of the workers even did not know the whereabouts of their sponsors, he added.

Referring to the rising number of cases relating to absconding employees, the official said filing a complaint now is not as easy as before.

According to the Ministerial Decision No 270/2018, employers who want to file complaints against absconding workers have to produce several evidences to establish the case.

“Apart from a bank statement proving the employee was paid salary up to three months before he/she absconded, the municipality licence of businesses and documents showing company address must be attached along with the complaint,” he said.

The ministry, in cooperation with the Central Bank of Oman, has made it mandatory for employers to pay wages through banks.

The decision says if the company files more than five complaints in one month or more than ten complaints in a year, the company will be subject to inspections to ensure it is complying with the labour law.

“If a company is found to be not complying with the provisions of the labour law or regulations, it will be suspended from receiving any services from the ministry for a year,’ said the official, citing the ministerial decision.