The recruitment of expats in Oman is regulated by Oman Sultani Decree No. 35/2003 (the “Labour Law”). The provisions of the Labour Law governing the recruitment of expatriates are summarised below.
Article 18 of the Labour Law stipulates that an employer is prohibited from hiring non-Omani workers unless the employee has obtained a permit from the Ministry of Manpower. The grant of such permit is subject to the following conditions:
– There is an insufficient number of Omanis available for the position or occupation;
– The employer has complied with the prescribed percentages of Omanisation set by the Ministry of Manpower; and
– The prescribed fees have been paid.
A non-Omani is prohibited from joining any work in the Sultanate before obtaining a labour card, which is the Civil Status ID Card. The grant of this card is upon the employer’s request, and is subject to the following conditions:
– The expat has professional competence or a technical skill or a qualification that is needed by the Sultanate;
– The employer has a permit to hire the expat;
– The expat has entered the country in a lawful manner and satisfies the conditions set out in the Foreign Residence Law (valid passport, valid visa, sponsorship);
– The expat is medically fit and free of all contagious or chronic diseases specified by the Ministry of Health;
– The expat has entered into a contract with an Omani or non-Omani employer.
Oman has extended an expat visa ban for certain professions. Pursuant to Article 1 of Ministerial Decision No. 208/2018 of the Ministry of Manpower: “The temporary non-authorisation to recruit non-Omani manpower in private sector enterprises for activities referred to in the Ministerial Decision No. 122/2014 will continue for another six months starting from 1 July 2018.”
The activities listed in Ministerial Decision No. 122/2014 are carpentry, metal, aluminium workshops and brick factories.Furthermore, Ministerial Decision No. 207/2018 extends the ban on recruiting non-Omani workers to private sector establishments for the professions of salesperson and purchase representative, as specified in the Ministerial Decision No. 608/2013, for another six months starting from 31 May 2018.
Finally, Ministerial Decision No. 206/2018 extends the ban on recruiting non-Omani workers in the construction and cleaning sectors, as specified in Ministerial Decision No. 338/2014, for another six months starting from 1 June 2018. These decisions are not related to the Ministerial Decision No. 38/2018, which temporarily banned recruiting expatriates in 78 occupations.
Notwithstanding the above-mentioned decisions, in all cases, the temporary suspension does not include replacement of existing employees. Thus, the effect on businesses is limited to future employment of expatriates. Nevertheless, due to the ongoing ban on certain visas, almost all companies have been affected by a shortage of workers.