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Times of Oman - 12.05.2014

Will the 2-year ban work in the best interests of Oman?


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It is interesting to read that the ROP has decided to reintroduce and enforce legislation to prevent expatriates from changing employer — otherwise known as 'company hopping' or 'job jumping'. The legislation will make it illegal from July 1, 2014 for an expat to work with one company and then resign to join another company without leaving Oman for two years.  

I am aware of private sector businesses who identify and recruit the expats, bring them from their home countries, arrange for labour clearances, settle them into Oman only for the expat to leave to take another job within a few months — this is obviously unfair and a costly exercise for the company and this legislation will come as good news for companies who regularly face this costly and difficult manpower problem.

However, it seems that it means that even if the expat loses their job through no fault of their own — for example nationalisation which is high on the government's agenda (rightly so), they will not be able to be employed with another company unless they leave Oman for two years. 

Is this fair to the expat who has worked diligently for a company for several years and finds their position nationalised?

Should that expat be made to leave Oman for two years before he is able to be given the opportunity to work for another company in Oman? 

Surely someone who has been employed already for several years in the Sultanate should be given priority over someone who has never worked here before. 
 




Should the fact that the expat has been working and living in Oman and therefore has been supporting the economy be ignored?  Personally I don't think so — employing expats who have already been working in the Sultanate and are settled enables them to be far more effective, more quickly than employing someone who has not worked here before and will take time settling into a different way of life. 

Maybe it would be more prudent to ensure that any expat remains with each employer for a minimum period of time before moving on to a new employer — perhaps a minimum period of two years?

It is clear that the ROP and other relevant bodies need to prevent illegal immigration and to find and remove absconders from Oman back to their home countries, however, this restriction in movement from one employer directly to another may lead to an increase in the likelihood of people absconding from their employer to join another company and further to them working without labour clearances.

So whilst maybe solving the problem of 'company hopping' or 'job jumping', this legislation will lead to other more difficult problems for the ROP and government to handle and a loss of skilled and experienced expats from the country — something that businesses need to be concerned about until Omani nationals are skilled and gain the experience necessary to fully take the expats place — something that will come in time.

The real question in my mind is, if this legislation was in place before and then abandoned, why if it didn't work in the best interests of Oman in the past, will it do so now?

The author is the General Manager of Competence HR in Muscat, having worked in Oman for five years.  She has over 30 years international experience in human resources management and consultancy including specializing in employment law and training and development related matters. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely hers and not of Times of Oman.

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