Rules devised by the Ministry of Labour to encourage Omanisation, while still retaining skilled expatriates, have now come into effect.
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“The new fees for work permits for non-Omani workforces for upper and intermediate occupations and technical and specialised professions, as well as for new work permits and fees for new businesses, will be in force starting from June 1, 2021,” said a statement from the Ministry of Labour.
This is part of an “economic stimulus plan for establishments concerning reduction in work permits for the expatriate workforce, regarding high-and-middle-level positions, and certain professions and occupations,” according to the ministry.
Companies that do have an Omani workforce will have their expat hiring fees reduced by 25 per cent, whereas those that have met their Omanisation quotas will have their expat work permit fees slashed by up to 50 per cent. Omanisation rates will be calculated according to the distribution of workers across the various activities conducted by companies.
For the months of June, July, and August, from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm, workers employed at construction sites and other open areas will enjoy a mid-day break. Welcoming the new decisions, Shahswar Al Balushi, a manpower sector consultant, said this would encourage firms to provide jobs to locals, rationalise costs, and encourage competitiveness.
Firms would benefit further by prioritising hiring of Omanis who have the qualifications and skills that companies are looking for.
This way, he added, companies would be able to meet their Omanisation quotas, while expatriates can impart their skills to Omanis in other sectors, and make them work-ready in future.
“Let us say, for example, that Oman has a large number of graduates with human resources degrees or banking degrees,” explained Al Balushi, who previously served as head of the Tanfeedh Labour Labs.
“Then, companies can hire Omanis from this pool of graduates, and phase out the expatriates working in these fields over a certain agreed-upon period of time, say, three years.
“Similarly, because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, companies will look at their budgets,” he added. “To get the best out of their workers, let them look at the salary allocations they have, and plan how many expatriates and Omanis they are able to hire under their budgets. Let them allocate, say 20 per cent of their salary for expats, or however much they need, and then use the rest for Omanis. It is important right now to not go over budget.”
Another suggestion put forward by Al Balushi, the former head of the Oman Society of Contractors, is for companies to be able to readily replace workers who do not meet their standards.
“Let companies set internal policies that all employees have to adhere to,” he said. “If an employee is unwilling to give it their all, despite the best efforts of the company, then they must understand that they can be replaced. Whether it is an Omani or expatriate, if they are performing at only 70 per cent of their capacity, and the rest of their colleagues are working hard, then companies need to be able to replace them.
“If they want to replace an Omani, then they must make sure they hire another Omani in their place, to maintain Omanisation levels,” he added.
Under the new regulations, hiring a foreign national in a top-level position will now cost OMR2,001, those in mid-level management will each fetch a fee of OMR1,001, specialists and technicians will set companies back OMR601 per employee, and the cost of a permit for an expat fisherman is OMR 361.
Households that wish to hire up to three domestic workers need to pay OMR141 for each of them, and should they plan on hiring more workers once they have reached this quota, they need to pay OMR241 for every additional work permit.
Hiring up to three farmers or animal breeders will cost companies OMR201 per worker, and every additional worker beyond that will set them back OMR301.
A fee of OMR5 will be charged whenever a worker’s details need to be updated, and whenever a worker switches employers.
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