While most employees of the state administrative apparatus have welcomed flexible working hours, this will also be beneficial to the public, as government offices or services will be available for longer working hours.
It may be noted that government services in the Sultanate of Oman will operate between 7.30 am and 2.30 pm on working days. The Ministry of Labour took a decision on flexible working hours and now services are available until 3 pm.
"Within the framework of the application of the flexible working system, the Ministry of Labour would like to inform you that all its offices catering to various public services will be available from 7:30 in the morning until 3 in the evening, while electronic services will operate round the clock."
According to sources, a few more government units related to public services are likely to reschedule their operating hours and make an announcement in the coming days.
The flexible working hours for the employees in the government apparatus came into effect 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 May 15.
Speaking to the Observer, Khalid al Balushi, an employee of one of the ministries in Al Khuwair, said, "With all employees coming to 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 head of a HR department in a government unit said: "The benefits of flexible working hours will be visible across the board in the coming days. Both employees and employers will benefit from timings such as 7.30 am to 2.30 pm, 8.30 am to 3.30 pm and 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Apart from easing traffic woes, it will also offer a window for longer working hours to offer public services."
The system regulates hours of the daily attendance of employees in a streamlined manner, according to the following conditions: The employees must abide by the 7-hour duty within a timeframe from 7.30 am to 4.30 pm.
The units which provide direct services to members of the public must announce the time designated for the respective services, if the time set for the services is not less than 7 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 programmes.
Sulaiman, an employee at the Ministry 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," said Aisha, a senior HR manager.