Monday, January 12, 2015

'Legal Expert' Drops a Bombshell on Visa Rule

I was going to write about something else today, but then I read this in the Times of Oman under their 'legal expert' section. Apparently, if you don't get a no objection letter when you leave employment in Oman other types of entry visa's will be denied alsoThe question I would like to ask 'legal expert' is can you put it in the employment contract that the employer must grant you a NOC and would that be enforced? 

'Please also note that as per the recent clarification issued by the ROP, you may need a no objection letter from your previous employer even if you opt to enter Oman in family visa, business visit visa or even investor visa.

For full text see:

Well, I cannot tell you the negative feelings that I have to the new reenforcement and new clarifications of this visa ban rule (even though I am in favour of Omanization). Really, I have to hold back as not to be too offensive. But, the number one reason why I think they should abandon this '2-year-ban' rule is that it actually does not accomplish what the intentions of the rule set out to do - lower the expat employment rate and increase Omanization in the Sultanate.  The number of foreign workers is increasing!

The issues are quite complex and this type of rule does not get to the heart of the reasons why Omani employment in private sector or elsewhere is not as healthy as it should be. Ms Hutton (see link below) has a good write-up featured in Oman Economic Review on some of the issues. Even if the article is over ten years old, it still seems relevant which may be an indicator of lack of sufficient progress on the matter.

"The World Bank report on Sustainable Growth and Economic Diversification for Oman stated, “private sector expatriate employers have revealed a tendency, for linguistic or cultural reasons, to favour their own nationals over Omanis when hiring new workers.” "

Five reasons why this rule should immediately be unenforced again.

1. There is nothing to stop employers from not issuing a NOC and bringing other foreign labourers. Thus, the foreign worker rate is maintained. There seems to be a pattern that hiring their own nationals over Omanis is favoured. 

2. Many foreign workers are on  'phantom sponsorships' where the Omani is merely collectiing a set sum each month to continue sponsoring the expat. The sponsors don't want to give up their source of income of the sponsorships. Many have wasta.

3. This rule creates an employment detractor for the real talent that Oman needs to import for some of their projects. So, if a couple comes and, then, the wife becomes unemployed and does not received a NOC; it seems under the new clarification she will not be able to be sponsored under a family visa. 

This creates a bad scenario where the husband and children can be here but the wife cannot. I say wife here not because I am sexist but because the rule in Oman is only husbands can sponsor wives not vis a versa.  So, this could be a serious detractor for highly skilled workers in their decision to come to Oman or stay in Oman. Oman still is reliant on expat help in some areas and even if not said outwardly some sectors could face some real operational and financial hiccups if many of the expat workers left.

Also, it prevents movement of talent between jobs in Oman. Leaving a NOC up to the arbitrary decision of an employer, keeps the talent already here from taking up a new position in a lateral move. Instead, companies will have to bear the costs of bringing another, training them, etc, and in some cases the now banned employee may have a special skill not easily replaced.

Oman and the GCC have a long history of using expat labor and it has become an integral force. To undo it, it is going to take much more strategy than this non-thought-out rule. 

It gives Omani employers too much power over employees to keep them under threat of getting a 'NOC'. Some high level professionals that Oman could benefit from the services of might choose not to work under such conditions and restraints and the lesser skilled workers might have to put up with more difficulties under a 'NOC' blackmail. 

I thought Oman was moving away from the 'slave-like' employment approach with controls such as holding passports and into the modern employment model - even the Free Trade Agreement with the USA incorporates some labour provisions. Why punish people who travel to Oman to work by then setting up a system that bans them on the arbitrary whim of their employer or employer's interests even if they performed their duties well? 

4. The education and training is still not up to par in producing the workers with proper skills and work attitude. Many Omani are capable and would like to work but they are just not receiving education they need to be successful.

There are many reasons for this and it's another issue that 'gets my goat', but they (Oman authorities) need to go in and do a complete overhaul of the system from curriculum, recruiting fees and corruption and the hiring of not-up-to-par faculty. Many of the high level Omani all studied outside.

5. The rule is too convolutedcomplicated and clarifications come randomly and arbitrarily. Omani HR departments are not even able to explain it accurately. 

No comments:

Post a Comment