Y Magazine

Why some companies in Oman hold back labourers’ wages ?

In Oman, there are over 2,100,249 expats currently (as of March 11, 2018), of which more than 1.8 million are employed by private or public firms. Expats from Bangladesh are still on top at 690,381 and is followed by Indians at 685,938.

Many of them say they suffer because of delays in getting a basic right, salaries.

Also read: Construction workers in Oman still at risk despite reforms

Talking about the reason for the non-payment of workers, Shashwar al Balushi, the head of Tanfeedh labour market lab and the chief executive officer of the Oman Society of Contractors, reveals: “One of the main reasons for this (salary delays) is the economic downturn. Several companies have had payment issues and even some companies with accounts with the government have not been settled.

“This has affected the third-party workforce (labourers, contractors, etc.). Many companies are also completing projects and handing them over to the clients. And the lack of future projects mean that they have to filter down their workforce or make compromises, like cutting salaries.

“But we expect things to take a turn for the better,” adds Shashwar.

Ministry inspections

Speaking to the Y magazine about the salary struggles of these labourers, Salim bin Said al Badi, director general of labour welfare at the Ministry of Manpower, says the ministry has deployed a specialised team to conduct field checks on private sector companies to make sure they follow the Labour Law. “The ministry’s policy and goal is to regulate the labour market and enhance relationship between employers and employees.”

Quoting the Labour Law, Al Badi adds: “Delaying any payment for more than extra seven days is illegal, and the ministry fines the violator. When it comes to holidays, every worker is entitled to an annual leave with full salary (for no less than 30 days).

“However, a company is allowed to make a worker work extra hours if the job requires so, only if they do not exceed 12 hours a day, while paying him/her 25 per cent more than the basic salary for morning overtime, and 50 per cent more for night, or to compensate him/her with a leave equal to the extra working hours. The law applies only if the employee is ready to work overtime and accepts the offered wage.

“Employer should grant an employee a two-linked-day holiday per week after five working days. It is allowed in some occupations, based on the minister’s decision, to collect and keep the two-day weekend for a maximum of eight weeks if both parties agree to it.”

Al Badi stresses the ministry has intensified inspections of companies. “The e-portal introduced by the ministry has facilitated everybody to file a complaint over Labour Law violations. If a company does not comply with the law and does not correct its violations, the file gets transferred to the Public Prosecution.”

Twenty cases were referred to the Public Prosecution in 2017, Al Badi said.