Muscat: The two laws for social protection and labour law issued last week will have a far-reaching impact not on just citizens but also residents of the Sultanate of Oman.
The Social Protection Law (Royal Decree 52/2023) will replace the current end-of-service system with a savings system that is applicable to all expatriates employed in the country.
Speaking to the Observer, Mohammed al Tai, a legal counsel at Decree.om, said, "The protections offered under the law are very wide in scope, and while Omanis are the primary target of these protections, some also apply to non-Omanis." He said the Social Protection Law has replaced the current system of end-of-service grants or gratuities with the savings system that is disbursed by the employer for expatriates.
Several expatriates contacted the Observer seeking more details, including people with over 20 years of service in their respective jobs. They wanted to know whether their end-of-service would be calculated as per the new system or the existing system.
One expatriate asked whether the new policy would be applicable to unskilled workers (domestic maids) and those employed in small salons, restaurants, and flower shops.
Details of the provisions of specified articles will be issued at a later date as the law will come into effect over the next six months.
Article 138 of the law states that the employer is obligated to pay an end-of-service grant or gratuity for the period of service until the date of the implementation of the new savings system as stipulated in Clause (1) of Article (139) upon the termination of service or in provisions of the Labor Law.
Article 139 states that the funding for the savings system will be as follows - The employee monthly contribution will be nine per cent of the basic wage, and any savings amounts paid by the employer, the insured, or others to the savings system will be as per the provisions of the regulations, gifts, bequests, and donations allocated to this system that is approved by a competent council and loans approved by the Council for the savings system after the approval of the Ministry of Finance.
Article 140 states that the regulation shows the dates for paying the contributions stipulated in Article 139 of this law and the additional amounts that are imposed on the employer in the event of non-compliance with these dates.
Article 141 states that the saver is entitled to the total contributions and amounts deposited in his personal account and the returns on their investment. The regulations may specify a minimum for investment returns.
Article (142) Based on the request of the saver, his or her savings may be spent in one of the following ways, as indicated by the regulations - in one go or in annual or monthly installments, taking into account the additional returns received until the end of the savings.
The saver is entitled to his savings from the fund in any of the following cases - the termination of the employment relationship of the non-Omani worker, unless it is linked to another work contract within the period indicated by the regulations, payment of monthly subscriptions or deposits will be a maximum period of no less than 180 months (15 years), on the death of the saver, savings are disbursed to the legal heirs, and the savings are transferred to the savings system in the event that there are no beneficiaries in accordance with the provision of this clause, permanent disability.
The savings may also be used to pay the insured's contributions in the elderly, disability, and death insurance branch and the work injury and occupational disease insurance branch in the cases indicated by the regulations.
By a decision of the Council, it is permissible to add or amend cases of entitlement in the savings system, provided that the decision indicates the basis and controls for entitlement.
Article 144 states that in the event of leaving the savings system or losing any of the conditions of its provisions, the saver shall notify the fund of that in the manner indicated by the regulations. The regulations also indicate the administrative fines resulting from not notifying the fund.
Labour Law 53/2023 also protects expatriates by ensuring that the employer may not keep the worker's passport or private documents, except with written consent, and that the non-Omani worker is entitled to 30 days leave and a return air ticket to his country for vacation.