Government offers facilitation package to the private sector

Muscat: The Supreme Committee tasked with devising mechanisms to deal with the developments resulting from the spread of COVID-19, as part of its permanent conveyance, on Wednesday announced a set of facilitation package in support to the private sector and private sector workforce.

The facilitation package has been agreed in consensus with relevant government departments and the private sector through representatives of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).

As per the package, the private sector companies and institutions should commit to maintain national workforce and not to terminate Omanis employed in private firms.

The package also offers a set of facilitations aimed to ensure sustainability of operations at the private companies to enhance their ability to cope with the current exceptional conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic both locally and internationally.

The private companies are required to readjust their working system to adopt telework and avoid crowds at the workplace and ensure that the employees and works are keeping apart both at the workplace and workers’ accommodation.

Private sector workers are entitled to, as per the approved package, a full salary paid leave during the quarantine period providing submission of a certificate issued by the relevant authority.

The package determines the obligations of private sector towards the national employees affected. This includes that that private companies are not permitted to lay off Omani employees.

The package also allows the private companies affected to advance paid annual leave for the employees in the sector affected by lock-down measures. It is permissible in the current conditions for private companies to negotiate for reduced wage for a three-month period against shorter working hours for the employees who have exhausted the annual paid leave effective from May, 2020, if need be.

The package also includes a number of facilitations for the private sector in support of the national workforce whose wages have been cut. This includes deferment of bank instalments and financing loans during the period of wage reduction, rescheduling of loans with zero interest rate, determent of paying utility bills until the end of June, 2020.
The facilitation package approved by the Supreme Committee on COVDI-19 includes a number of obligations of the private sector towards non-Omani workforce which includes agreement between private sector companies and employees regarding the payment of their salaries. Companies may advance paid annual leave for the employees of companies affected by lockdown. Affected companies are also required to allow the final departure of non-Omani employees.

The package involves facilitations by the Ministry of Manpower to the affected companies including reducing the fees for the renewal of residence cards for non-Omani workforce to RO 201 down from RO 301 as of today until the end of June. The package also includes waving of fees and fines for non-Omani workforce in the event of final departure from Sultanate.

Employers are permitted to extend expired labour permits of workers who are currently outside the Sultanate during the lockdown period as well as cancellation of fines resulting from the same after coordinating with the relevant authorities. This also includes permission for the extension of recruitment of non-Omani manpower that expired during the lockdown period. — ONA

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