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Govt employees welcome flexible working hours

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Muscat: The flexible working hours for the employees of the government apparatus came into effect today in line with the Royal directives of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik.

The Ministry of Labour has issued a decision to implement the Flexible Duty System at the State’s Administrative Units (offices of the public sector) that apply the Civil Service Law and its executive regulation, starting from Sunday, May 15, 2022.

Speaking to the Observer, Khalid al Balushi, an employee at one of the ministries in Al Khuwair said, "With all employees coming to the office or leaving for home at the same time, long hours are spent on roads due to traffic congestion, especially on the busy Muscat Expressway. With this new system, the traffic flow can be regulated with people getting more productive hours. With road works and diversions happening at a number of places, commuting in the scorching afternoon sun is tiresome."

The system regulates hours of the daily attendance of employees in a streamlined manner, according to the following conditions:

The employees have to abide by the seven-hour duty within a timeframe from 7.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Each unit decides the duty schedule of its departments and calculates its employees’ seven-hour attendance from the time an employee signs in to the time he/she signs out.

The units that provide direct services to members of the public have to announce the time designated for the respective services, provided that the time set for the services is not less than seven hours a day.

Each unit coordinates with its employees to regulate the workflow in a manner that does not affect their achievement of the tasks/services rendered to members of the public or beneficiaries.

The daily duty schedules should maintain the quality of services and accommodate the prescribed meetings, workshops, and training programs.

The daily duty schedules should cover the “official duty hours suitable for tasks of special nature in Units of the State’s Administrative Apparatus”, in accordance with decisions issued under Article (61) of the Civil Service Law promulgated by Royal Decree 120/2004.

The above-mentioned units have to provide regular assessment reports to the Ministry of Labour about the application of the Flexible Duty System, after the passing of the first six months from its implementation, citing its general impact and its economic, administrative, and procedural implications to the employees

But one employee had a different opinion, "This decision is good if the number of employees is increased because now most government institutions have a staff shortage due to retirements. If working hours are made flexible, there will be an added pressure on those working in the services sector, which can lead to some delays in clearing of files."

Sulaiman, an employee at the Minister of Education, said, "​It is clear in the decision that the authorities have fixed the timings in such a way that the administrative work is not affected."

Several working women in the government sector welcomed the decision, "It is a smart move and allows us to balance our homemaking and workplace responsibilities without making any compromises on the productivity," Aisha, a senior HR manager.

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