Muscat: The Social Protection Law promulgated by the Royal Decree 52/2023 is seen as a landmark as it expands the social security cover to expatriate workers who will be covered for employment injury, maternity, and sickness under the same terms as national workers.
Perhaps for the first time in the GCC, it offers a social insurance scheme for maternity and paternity, and sickness cash benefits, according to legal experts.
Mohammed al Tai, a legal counsel at decree.om, said, "The Social Protection Law is one of the most important laws to come out in recent years and it is a great example of the efforts that the government is making in realising Oman Vision 2040.” He said the protections offered by this law are very wide in scope and while Omanis are the primary target of these protections, and some also apply to non-Omanis.
The protections offered by this law fall under two main categories: Social protection and social insurance. The social protection benefits include the elderly benefit, the persons with disabilities benefit, the orphans and widows’ benefit, the childhood benefit, the family income support benefit, the first-time job seekers benefit, and the maternity benefit. Social insurance includes insurance for the elderly, disability, and death; insurance against work injuries and occupational diseases; employment security insurance; insurance against sick and extraordinary leaves; maternity leave insurance; and social health insurance.
The Social Protection Law mainly provides outlines and leaves many of the details for an executive regulation that will be issued separately later.
Regarding the family income support benefit, a non-Omani widow whose Omani husband dies and has no Omani children is entitled to this benefit if she resides in Oman for a continuance period after the death of her husband.
Regarding the insurance against work accidents and occupational diseases, this applies to non-Omanis based on the categories and rules to be issued by a decision by the Board of Directors of the Social Protection Fund.
Regarding the death pension, non-Omanis can be beneficiaries of this if they reside in the Sultanate of Oman.
About sick leave and extraordinary leave insurance apply to non-Omanis based on the categories to be issued by a decision by the Board of Directors of the Social Protection Fund.
Regarding maternity leave insurance, this applies to non-Omanis based on the categories to be issued by a decision by the Board of Directors of the Social Protection Fund.
Regarding the savings system established by this law, this is compulsory for non-Omanis, and it will replace the end-of-service gratuity for them.
The disbursement of the contributions made to the savings system will be governed by executive regulation.
The savings will be disbursed to the employee in a few cases, including the end of the employment relationship, his death, his disability, or the employee making contributions for a period not less than 180 months.
All employed non-Omani mothers of newborns will have job-protected maternity leave for 14 weeks at full pay, financed based on a one per cent contribution from the employer.
All employed non-Omani fathers of newborns will have job-protected paternity leave for seven days at full pay, financed from the same fund as maternity benefits.
There will be uniform employment injury insurance for all employed workers in Oman, including non-Omanis (to be implemented within three years), financed based on a one per cent contribution from employers.
As per the law, a work injury is any injury resulting from an accident that occurred to the insured during or because of work, or an injury to one of the occupational diseases shown in the list of occupational injuries and diseases and other diseases to be specified by a decision based on a proposal from the medical committee.
Every occupational disease whose symptoms appear within one year from the date of termination of the insured’s service, unless the list of occupational injuries and diseases indicates a longer period for some occupational diseases, and the first medical diagnosis related to the occupational disease is considered as the date of the injury.
Every accident that occurs to the insured during the period he is going to start his work or returning from it, or during his movement from his place of work to the place where he takes his food or establishes his prayers in or near the place of work, and it is always stipulated that the coming and going is without stopping or deviating from the normal route, or that the route he took is considered an acceptable path to go to work or return from it, and the accidents that occur during the movements of the insured that he carries out with the intent of performing a task entrusted to him by the employer.
Cases of injury resulting in total disability or death due to accidents on the way from the permanent place of residence to the place of residence to perform work, in accordance with the conditions set out in the Regulations on Occupational Injuries and Diseases.