MUSCAT: With businesses across the country are struggling with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, some of the private sector companies in Oman have already deducted the salary of their staff for the month of March in order to reduce the operational expense.
Early this week, the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) received complaints of employees from 25 companies after their pay was reduced. While some of the companies have rolled-back the decision to deduct the wages, MoM is still talking to others to revoke their plan.
Speaking exclusively to The Arabian Stories, a senior official at Ministry of Manpower confirmed that under the law, private companies in Oman are not entitled to reduce or deduct salaries of their employees, in any particular situation or financial difficulties. “This is completely against the law,” he said. “Salary is a basic labour right and you cant deny that as per Articles 49 to 60 of the Oman Labour Law,” he said.
What does the law says?
“Unless a salary deduction comes as punishment to the breach of a company’s disciplinary policy, approved by the Ministry of Manpower, under no condition can the employer take steps to either reduce salaries of the employees, as this act will be regarded as unlawful,” he explained.
Speaking about the challenging situation in the country, the official had this to say: “Frankly none of the companies predicted this (Covid-19 impact). So they were not prepared. You can’t entirely blame them. What we can do at this stage is to talk to them. We are talking to these companies based on the complaints we received from their employees. Most of the companies had an open conversation with us. We need to be fair with everyone,” he added.
Most companies in the country are currently following a wait and watch policy. “If the coronavirus doesn’t show signs of dying out post April 20 then it will be worrisome especially for automotive and other top sectors,” said a Muscat based HR expert.