Bank statement must with ‘missing worker’ plaint

MUSCAT, Dec 22 – A bank statement proving salary payment, at least for three months, is mandatory for lodging a ‘missing’ complaint against an expatriate employee. “An employer must attach a bank statement along with the other documents to prove that the salary was paid regularly before the employee went missing,” said a senior official at the Ministry of Manpower. However, this condition is not required for filing a complaint against domestic workers. “Still, the employer has to show written proof about salary payment,” the official told the Observer citing recent regulations introduced by the ministry.

All companies, big or small, are under the scanner of Wage Protection System launched by the ministry. It automatically alerts the ministry when firms do not use the system, he said. According to the official, the number of complaints about absconding workers has decreased after the introduction of strict procedures — both for employer and employees — in August this year. In reply to a question, the official said the number of people arrested by officials from the ministry has seen a significant rise this year. “Most of these arrests, made in association with Royal Oman Police and other departments, are for violation of different sections of labour law,” he said.

Despite repeated warnings, a number of expatriates still arrive in the country on the so-called ‘free visa’ in search of jobs. “There is nothing called a free visa,” he said. “Expat workers should arrive in the country only on an employment visa, that too with a proper contract with the employer.” While lodging the complaint on the ministry’s website, an employer has to pay an amount equivalent to the cost of the return ticket. The new decision bars companies from making more than five complaints a month.

“If the complaint is found to be false or inaccurate, the employer can be slapped with a fine not exceeding RO 500,” the official said. Workers can also approach the ministry with a revoke petition in case of a false complaint of absconding is filed against them. Workers can counter within 60 days by presenting themselves and submitting an appeal along with necessary documents to prove the inaccuracies in the complaint. “If the authorities find the complaint to be false, the case will be cancelled and the employer will be fined between RO 400 and RO 800,” said the official. Often, absconding cases are filed when an employee asks for a ‘no objection certificate’ for transfer of workers’ services to another employer or the company wants to get rid of them due to different reasons.