Oman may scrap ‘no objection’ certificates for expats wanting to change jobs

Author: PM editorial | Date: 19 Oct 2016

Cutting down on red tape will help attract investment in the labour market, says government advisor

The requirement for an expatriate to have a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) to change jobs in Oman could soon be a thing of the past.

Advisor to the Minister for Manpower, Said bin Nasser Al Saadi, told the Times of Oman: “We will remove the NOC option. It will be removed. The plan is being considered seriously.”

The plans were reportedly prompted by similar changes to employee rights in the UAE and to the kafala system in Qatar, allowing greater freedoms for expatriate workers.

Much like the kafala system, if a foreign worker in Oman fails to get an NOC when leaving their current employer, they can be banned from working in the country for two years. This is seen by many as an unfair upper hand for employers.

“We are updating and modifying our rules. Our new labour law will be more flexible and easier for the labour market help attract investment. We are in the final stages of the new labour law. It will be very soon,” said Al Saadi.

However, Ahmed Al Hooti, an Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry member, told the Times of Oman local employers needed some form of protection if the NOC was scrapped.

“Our situation is different than that of [the] UAE or Qatar. The private sector comprises 80 to 85 per cent of labourers and the majority is unskilled labour.
“There are hundreds of thousands of Omanis working in the private sector and some of them run their own businesses. If the rule is waived without taking them into consideration, they will have a lot of competition from expatriate workers, so we must protect them,” he added.

While any removal of the NOC will be welcomes as good news for expatriates, Oman recently announced a decision to restrict visas for Bangladeshi workers.