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Times of Oman - 22.10.2014

Muscat: With the government stating unequivocally that there is no change in the two-year visa ban on expatriate workers leaving jobs before the end of their contracts without a no objection certificate (NOC), workers and companies alike have mostly reacted adversely to the move.

"I had plans to switch my job due to differences with my employer. Now, I don't have any option until my contract expires," said a worker from India, who wished to remain anonymous.

"Besides the uncertainty over what the regulation actually means, the new legislation is causing significant difficulties," said Tonia Gray, general manager of Competence HR, a human resources firm. 

"We have already had several candidates withdrawing from offers of employment as they do not want the uncertainty and the possibility of having to leave Oman at the end of their two-year contract and not be allowed to return for two years! 

Rule the hindrance
"
An example of this was a senior manager with an expertise in banking operations who refused the offer because of the rule — a significant loss to the bank and to Oman, as his experience is not available here," added Tonia.

Not good business sense
According to Tonia, the ban doesn't make good business sense for Oman and further limits the personal freedom of the individual.

"If an employee is completely tied to a company for the period, his skill and experience are lost to Oman and need to be replaced with a completely new person who will take time to settle and whose skills and abilities are unknown. This doesn't make good business sense for Oman and further limits the personal freedom of the individual, which doesn't sit well with me," added Tonia.

Meanwhile, a company chairman also said that they are having a tough time because of the 
visa ban.

"The government is aiming to promote Omanisation through this move. That is good, but at the same time the government should also consider all the risk factors we companies face. When a skilled and experienced employee is banned from entering Oman because he does not have an NOC or has breached the contract with an earlier employer, the loss is ours," said Anvwar Al Balushi, chairman of Anvwar Asian Investment Group.

"It takes time and money to train a fresher and get him acquainted with the local market. It will be the company's loss," said Anvwar while adding the Omani workers should be groomed to take up the challenge and replace the expatriate worker very soon.

The owner of a manpower recruiting agency said that the controls on employees are good but it should protect the interests of both parties.

"Sometimes, an employee may not be able to work with the present employer, and may have to leave. However, because of the ban he cannot do so. So, he has to either suffer and continue or leave and face the ban. A balanced approach should be adopted," said the owner of a manpower recruitment agency in Salalah.

A professor at a college said the ban would have an adverse impact on the Omani business and industrial sector.

"Human resource should be allowed to move freely from firm to firm. Employees look to switch companies only when they are not well paid or not satisfied with their job. Now, because of the new rule, companies have to spend more on hiring employees and there will be a time lag in the recruitment and placement process," said Dr Ayoob CP, department head of International Business Administration in Nizwa College of Applied Sciences.

A few days ago, a ban preventing small and medium-size enterprises from hiring expatriates was dropped by the Ministry of Manpower.
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