Abolishing No-Objection Certificate

The aim of enhancing competitiveness and improving the labor market conditions in a way that preserves the rights of employers. The Sultanate is moving to abolish the requirement of no-objection certificate from next year.

In light of what was circulated regarding the inquiries and questions about the decision to cancel the condition of the no-objection certificate, all these questions were monitored by the government communication centre and coordination was done with the authorities concerned with this decision in order to obtain clarifications on this decision and the mechanisms for its implementation, which came as follows:

Define the decision to cancel the NOC requirement and its stages of preparation

What are the grounds of abolishing the no-objection clause regulated under Article 11 of the Residence Law and Article 24 of the executive regulations of the expats Residence Law, and what are the expected effects on the labour market in general and on SMEs in particular?

This orientation is due to the economic principles mentioned in the Basic Law of the State in Article 11 and the social principles contained in Article 12. The Sultanate’s approval of its accession to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is also a major pillar of the decision to revoke the no-objection certificate, as His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq issued the Royal Decree approving the Sultanate’s accession to this Covenant on 7 April, 2020, and Article 6 of the Covenant provides "The States Parties to this Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of every person to be afforded the opportunity to earn his living by work that he freely chooses or accepts and takes appropriate measures to safeguard this right." Article 7 stipulates that “States parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to enjoy a just and favorable conditions of work.”

In this context, this decision includes the non-Omani workforce, whether that whose work contract ends with the employer in the Sultanate or those outside the Sultanate after the end of the contracting period with the employer. Accordingly, the decision enforcement mechanism requires the completion of the contracting period between both the worker and the employer in order to be able to obtain freedom of movement to any other employer without the need to obtain a no-objection certificate from the employer. In case that the contracting period has not ended, the relationship between the worker and the employer, in this case, is clearly regulated by the Labour Law.

hopefully that this decision will achieve many advantages for business owners, including the adoption of labor contracts that will regulate contractual relations between employers and workers in a manner that guarantees the rights and duties of both parties, and will provide such contracts with a part of protection for employers to preserve the confidentiality of their data and the data of their clients, as well as ensuring non-competition in If the employer desires that, the main advantages of applying this decision will be to enhance the competitiveness of the Omani worker compared to the non-Omani worker by reducing the wage gap and the rights between them.

In addition, the decision will contribute to reducing cases of the escape of non-Omani workers, especially those that may be subject to pressure from employers who cling to the right to issue a no-objection certificate in order to deprive the worker out of the Sultanate for two years. In addition, the decision will result in reducing costs and administrative burdens resulting from deportation procedures and the regularization of legal statuses. It is also hoped that this decision will support the Sultanate’s efforts to combat hidden trade, as it will reduce the ability of some employers to take advantage of the conditions accompanying the existence of a no-objection certificate in exercising hidden trade. In addition, this decision will result in the existence of a local market for talents that enjoy the dynamics of supply and demand, and the decision will also achieve a suitable place for the Sultanate Infront of the international organizations concerned with labour rights, human trafficking and freedom of employment.

As for the impact of this decision on small and medium enterprises, hopefully, that this decision will contribute to joint efforts to limit hidden trade, as the Omani business owner will be able to play a greater role in his institution that he owns and is familiar with all procedures, processes and related parties from suppliers, contractors, service providers and clients A non-Omani worker will not have a pivotal role in the organization that is owned and managed by the Omani entrepreneur.

Has the opinion of the private sector been sought regarding the decision to revoke the NOC?

In the context of the review of the subject of the no-objection certificate, a number of representatives of the private sector in the working group for the partnership between the government and the private sectors submitted a proposal that was the first: to study the request to cancel the requirement of the personal presence of the employer when assigning employment for the benefit of another employer, but to be satisfied with his representative Or his representative, which was taken in 2016, and the second request was the desire of a large number of representatives of the private sector to cancel the no-objection certificate, which was examined in 2016, and this request has met with the interests of the government and private sectors, and this decision came to cancel this certificate as the first action Representatives of the two sectors.

Are there rules or procedures requiring the non-Omani worker not to move from the institution without a justified reason? 

The relationship between the worker and the employer is regulated by the labor law, but in case that the non-Omani worker wishes to transfer to another employer after the end of the contracting period with the current employer, the new decision guarantees him this right without stating the reason for his desire to relocate.

Is there a mechanism to ensure that a non-Omani worker does not divulge the secrets of the institution he was working for to the institution he moved to later?

The concerned authorities have taken into account these observations, which are considered an inherent right of the employer, and therefore the employer can include the conditions for the confidentiality of the information that the worker looks forward to while working for the employer, and this can be expanded by signing the “non-disclosure agreement” and the “non-competition agreement” “In order to guarantee the rights of the employer, and Article 27 of the Labor Law regulates the obligations and duties of the worker towards the employer, including keeping work secrets.

Are there certain conditions that allow a non-Omani worker to cancel his work contract from the institution or company he works for and transfer it to another company or institution?

The relationship between the worker and the employer during the contracting period is clearly regulated by the Labor Law and can be referred to for adjudication in such cases.

If the employer refuses to transfer the non-Omani worker to another employer, is there a procedure that will be taken that preserves the worker's right and the right of the employer if it proves that he is harmed by the move of the non-Omani worker to the new employer?

Upon the expiry of the contract period between the worker and the employer, the worker has the right to choose to continue to work for the employer or to move to work for another employer, but with regard to the separation between the worker and the employer in disputes, a reference to that will be to the labor law in addition to the option to resort to committees Conciliation and reconciliation in order to reach solutions to which both parties are satisfied. With regard to avoiding damages to both parties as a result of the worker moving to another employer, it is possible to include what guarantees the rights of both parties in the work contract concluded between the worker and the employer.

Is there a plan to reduce the value of non-Omani work permits for small and medium enterprises if the non-Omani worker decides to transfer to another employer without a justified reason?

The option in front of a non-Omani to move to work for another employer does not require stating the reason that motivates him to move, but that is left to the factors of supply and demand in the martket. Also, by returning to one of the motives for taking this decision, enhancing the competitiveness of the Omani worker compared to the non-Omani worker is an important goal and this can be achieved by the government by ensuring a reduction in the cost gap on the employer between the Omani and non-Omani workers.

Does a worker’s escape from his sponsor give him the right to transfer to another employer? Or does the worker’s escape revoke the right of the non-Omani worker to benefit from the revocation of the NOC?

The escape of a worker is considered a violation according to the Labor Law, and if this is proven, he is formally registered as a fugitive, and legal measures are taken to drive him out of the country and reject his entry to the Sultanate.

Does the decision to remove the NOC requirement include domestic workers?

Of course, the law of the residence of foreigners applies to all non-Omani workers whose presence in the Sultanate without exception to this decision, and therefore private employment is among the categories covered by this decision.

Is it possible to cancel or postpone the application of the decision to revoke the no-objection certificate until rules are put in place to protect the owners of institutions?

Yes, a period has been introduced during which employers can correct their conditions and sign employment contracts with non-Omani workers. As for rules that protect the interests of both parties, the reference is the employment contract.

Why did the Sultanate not postpone the revocation of the no-objection certificate until the effects of the pandemic ends? Knowing that there are many small and medium-sized enterprises affected by this pandemic, and it may fade with the continuing effects of the pandemic? 

The current economic conditions were taken into account when drafting this decision, and therefore it has been decided that the implementation of this decision will be accompanied by a grace period extending to the beginning of the next year 2021 in order for companies to be able to correct their conditions and ensure the presence of legal controls and requirements that regulate their relationship with non-Omani work, including drafting employment contracts. Which clearly guarantees the rights of both parties.

Was the presence of the no-objection certificate one of the reasons for the Sultanate obtaining unsatisfactory rankings in some international indicators related to human rights, such as the human trafficking index?

One of the aspects that relate to the concept of human trafficking as well as human rights is the practice of stipulating a no-objection certificate. Human rights organizations classify the no-objection certificate as exposing the non-Omani worker to exploitation and abuse or pushing them to flee the employer as a result of some inhumane practices that may come out of the employer being the strongest party in the relationship between the two parties, this was clearly demonstrated in both the Human Rights Watch report on the Sultanate in 2018 and the Global Slavery Index 2018.

Is the decision to revoke the no-objection certificate politically motivated as the pressure exerted on the Sultanate by international organizations? Or a regulatory decision by the government for the Omani labor market?

Any government decision is based on the principle that it serves the public interest, which is embodied in several aspects, including correcting labor market conditions and enhancing the competitiveness of the Omani worker in comparison with the non-Omani worker. This also includes contributing to the Sultanate’s progress in international indicators that concern competition.

Photo credits:
Japan Embassy in Oman Link

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