Oman is reportedly planning to remove the requirement for expatriate workers in the country to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their employer to change jobs.
Times of Oman cited Ministry of Manpower advisor Said bin Nasser Al Saadi as saying the government was seriously considering removing the requirement.
“We will remove the NOC option. It will be removed,” he was quoted as saying.
Recent changes allowing expatriate workers more freedom in the UAE and the upcoming overhaul of the kafala system in Qatar reportedly prompted the plans.
Workers who fail to obtain a NOC when leaving their employer are currently banned from returning to Oman for two years.
However, Al Saadi suggested the sultanate’s new labour law, which is being finalised, would be more flexible and was designed to attract investment to the country.
Restrictive labour policies were one of several factors deemed barriers to doing business in Oman in the recently released Global Competitive Index 2016-2017 by the World Economic Forum.
Reports in August also suggested the NOC system, which was made mandatory in mid-2014, was being exploited by companies.
Legal advisors in the country were quoted as saying employers were forcing workers to give up their end of service gratuity in exchange for the certificate.
“Modifying labour laws will certainly impact onerous cost and legal hurdles that inhibit free market competition and allow Oman to get repositioned as a regional destination for business owners,” Al Saadi was quoted as saying.
Ahmed Al Hooti, an Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry member, suggested protection should be put in place for Omani businesses if the law is changed.
“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 said, according to the publication.