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Companies warned against holding employees’ passports without consent

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Companies are advised not to keep employees’ passports unless they request for it, according to the Ministry of Labour.

According to the ministerial decision 2/2006 issued by the Ministry of Labour dated November 6, 2006, keeping employees’ passports is against the basic statute of the Sultanate of Oman’s Labour Law.

“The passport belongs to the state that it issues to its citizens and must be with the person. An employer can keep the passport in case the worker desires for fear of losing it,” a source in the ministry told the Observer.

Some workers feel the document is safe with the employer for the document renewals etc. In that case, the passports can be kept safely with the employer.

“There have been many violations reported to the ministry, and appropriate actions were taken against the offenders,” said the source.

“Employers should return the passports to its foreign employees because keeping them is against the labour practices in the country, and a passport is a personal document of an individual that proves his or her nationality and should be in his or her possession,” he added.

The aforesaid ministerial decision further says that keeping the legal nationality document of any foreign worker is illegal, and it should be returned to the document owner.

“The Sultanate of Oman has on several occasions clearly said no company has the authority to keep the passport of an employee without his own free will,” he adds.

If passports are retained without consent, their owners can approach the Ministry of Labour to get them back.

“Similarly, if an employee is terminated from services for his/her failure to surrender his passport, the termination may be judged illegal,” said the source.

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