Employer Action Code: Act
In tandem with the enactment of a new Social Protection Law (see this Global News Brief Oman: Major social security reform extends benefits to expats), Oman has issued a new Labor Law (Decree No. 53 of 2023), the primary legislation establishing terms and conditions for employment in the private sector. Among other things, the law increases employer-paid sick leave and maternity leave and introduces new employer-paid paternity leave.
Among its many significant changes, the new law:
- Introduces a paid paternity leave entitlement of seven days and increases employer-paid sick and maternity leave as follows:
- Sick leave is increased from 10 weeks to 182 calendar days, paid at 100% of pay for days one to 21, 75% for days 22 to 35, 50% for days 36 to 70 and 35% for days 71 to 182.
- Maternity leave is increased from 50 to 98 calendar days with no limit on the number of times maternity leave may be taken (previously limited to three times with a single employer).
- Increases employer-paid bereavement leave from three to 10 days for the death of a child or wife and introduces a new entitlement of 14 days for the death of a husband for non-Muslim widows
- Shifts responsibility for payment of these and other paid leaves from the employer to the Social Protection Fund (to be created by the Social Protection Law) once it is established (excluding the first seven days of paid sick leave)
- Entitles new mothers to one hour of daily paid time off to care for their child and up to one year of unpaid childcare leave
- States that dismissals based on discriminatory reasons (i.e., sex, origin, color, language, religion, creed, social status, disability, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, affiliation with a labor union) are unfair dismissals
- Requires companies to develop workforce “Omanization” plans (to be approved by the Ministry of Labor) including the stipulation that firms with 25 or more workers should employ and retain Omani nationals and allowing for the dismissal of foreign workers if such actions are based on the company's Omanization plan and an Omani is hired for the same role
- Introduces new types of work arrangements (i.e., casual, temporary, part-time and remote work)
- Reduces maximum daily working time from nine to eight hours and increases daily breaks from 30 to 60 minutes
The law is effective July 31, 2023, but employers have been given a grace period until January 31, 2024, to bring their policies and practices into compliance. Employers should review the changes and adapt their employment policies and practices to ensure compliance; however, the changes are sweeping — covering a variety of other topics such as dismissal, employment contracts, performance appraisals and work rules — and implementing regulations for this law and the Social Protection Law are still pending, so any such review is likely to be prolonged.