Polls Apart: Oman’s NOC rule back in the spotlight

The controversial No Objection Certificate (NOC) is back in the spotlight thanks to a recent Government survey on Twitter asking residents to vote on whether or not they support the rule.

An NOC is a letter granted by an employer to expatriates who want to move from one job to another at the end of their contract. The law came into effect in July 2014.

Varun recalls: “My colleagues were all supportive of me leaving, as they thought that it was best I was moving on after the regional office glossed over two decades of my work. Our chief executive officer also promised me an NOC so that I could pursue a better career for myself.”

The issue of scrapping the NOC rule was back in the spotlight a few weeks later after it was confirmed that Tanfeedh – “Oman’s solution to raise issues surrounding a non-oil future, and discuss ways to prepare the country for a better tomorrow” – was introduced to discuss the prospects of a revised NOC law.

The labour lab, headed by Shashswar al Balushi, had drawn up proposals around the NOC regulation to make it fairer to both employers and employees.

However, no notable changes were made to the NOC law after six weeks of brainstorming sessions, and news surrounding the issue vanished into thin air by February this year.

 “The NOC structure must be modified to make sure it works well,” Shashwar al Balushi, the head of Tanfeedh labour labs and also chief executive of the Oman Society of Contractors, was quoted by local media as saying.

However, the voting for the Arabic poll sided with the NOC from the beginning, with much of the voters casting their votes in favour of keeping the rule.

But, in an effort to clarify what the poll meant, the ISFU also tweeted an infographic with a definition of the NOC, and arguments for and against the regulation.

In its tweet, the ISFU stated: “Some business owners believe that NOCs lead to restrictive movement of workers, and decrease their productivity, and therefore lead to barriers in front of business with regards to attracting talent from world markets.

“Other employers think that this certificate protects the confidentiality of both the profession and their clients, and it serves their interest.”

Meanwhile, numerous expats say their employers exploit staff by making them work long hours in return for no extra pay, as well as working on weekends, cancelling annual leave, and withholding salaries for weeks or months at a time.

Adam*, a top-level expat employee at a leading petroleum company in Oman, says numerous employees of a company contracting for his firm’s refineries have not been paid for more than six months.

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Source: y-oman

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