Rise in crackdowns on labour law violators

Muscat, August 7 – In its continuing efforts to combat labour law violations, the Ministry of Manpower has rounded up hundreds of people in the last few months. In the last week of July, 400 workers, including those who were declared absconders, were arrested from different parts of the Sultanate.
According to the ministry, joint inspection teams with officials from the Royal Oman Police (ROP) and civic bodies have been carrying out simultaneous checks at different places.
“Most of the arrested included workers listed as absconders or those not working under their sponsors,” said a ministry statement.
Data from National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) shows 63,000 workers ran away from their employers in 2016. This is almost more than three per cent of Oman’s total expatriate workforce.
In 2015, 60,000 expatriate workers had absconded.
In the first half of this year, officials in Dhofar rounded up 1,109 workers.
“The implementation of a notification system as part of e-government transformation plan for absconding workers is helping a lot,” said an official at the ministry.
Under the system, employers can file an absconding case against an employee if he/she fails to turn up for work without giving any formal notice, he said.
According to the Omani labour law, an expatriate employee who works in the Sultanate without a licence from the government department concerned, or works with any employer other than his/her sponsor shall be imprisoned for a period not exceeding one month and fined not more than RO 100, or either of them.
Despite slowdown in the growth of expatriate employment in private sector in 2014, their numbers gained pace by 8.3 per cent and 9.3 per cent in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

In total, the number of migrant workers stood at 1,848,175 by the end of December, according to NCSI.
In all, 1,504,936 of them are working in the private sector, 60,196 in the government sector, while 283,043 are working for families as domestic helps and drivers.
Construction sector absorbed the maximum number of expatriates with its share in the private sector employment dropping to 36.4 per cent in 2016 from 39.1 per cent in 2015.
Wholesale, retail trade and repairs saw a 13.8-per cent increase in 2016 from 12.8 per cent in 2015.
The share of manufacturing went up to 12.3 per cent in 2016 from 11.6 per cent in 2015, while the share of private households with employed persons in total expatriate workers in private sector remained unchanged at 10.9 per cent in 2016 and 2015.
The share of hotels and restaurants, and real estate and renting business saw increases of 6.3 per cent and 5.1 per cent in 2016, respectively from 6.1 per cent and 4.9 per cent in 2015.
These six sectors together accounted for 85 per cent of the total employment of expatriates in the private sector.

SAMUEL KUTTY