Labour Inspection Structure and Organization
Department(s) responsible for Labour Inspection
Labour inspection is one of the responsibilities of the Labour Division of the Ministry of Manpower and at a central level comes under the General Directorate of Labour Care (GDLC). The GDLC comprises the six departments: Labour Inspection, Occupational Safety and Health, Labour Dispute Settlement, Labour Services, Trade Unions and the Office of Joint Inspection.
The Department of Labour Inspection organizes inspection visits to the private sector's establishments, to ensure their compliance with the laws and decrees through three sections: the Routine Inspection Section, the Work Permits Inspection Section and the Foreign Workers Recruitment Agencies Section. General labour inspectors do not inspect safety and health conditions, but if they come across any relevant violations they report them to the director of OSH department who follows up with his inspectors. The Department of Occupational Safety and Health has within its mandate to conduct regular inspection visits to enterprises in all sectors to ensure that they abide by the safety and health provisions of the Omani Labour Law. The Department of Labour Services also monitors enterprises concerning the implementation of the labour law provisions related to workers’ social welfare and services. The Office of Joint Inspection conducts regular routine visits to enterprises and workplaces to ensure that all their foreign workers are legal and have valid work permits.
Laws that cover organization and function
- Labour Law, issued by the Royal decree No. 35/2003;
- Regulation of Occupational Safety and Health for Establishments Governed by the Labour Law. Issued by Ministerial decision No. 286/2008;
- Ministerial decision No. 11/2008, concerning the approval of the “Guide to Labour Inspection”.
There was no labour inspection in Oman prior to 2007 but a comprehensive change started when the ILO started technical programs in Oman, which included assisting the country in rebuilding the capacities of its labour inspection system. The MOM is fully committed to the development and promotion of the labour inspection system in their country. The Omani situation, with such high level commitment and the very good infrastructure at the General Directorate for Labour Care is promising to become one of the best models of modern and effective labour inspection systems in the region.
Scope of Labour Inspection
The Labour inspectors have authority to carry out judicial investigations for the implementation of the provisions of the labour law and the regulations which applies to all enterprises and sectors, except members of the armed forces and public security organizations and employees of the state administrative apparatus and other government units; members of the employer’s family of his dependants and domestic workers.
Labour inspectors have the right to enter the places of work and audit the books, records and documents, interview whoever they find necessary and prepare relevant reports. The labour inspectors do not usually deal with individual labour disputes, but such cases may be referred to them only if they concern labour rights, but not termination of service. Collective labour disputes may be handled by labour inspectors, when such cases come to them, either directly from the dispute parties or through the Department of Labour Dispute Settlement.
Some of the functions and activities carried out by the Department of Labour Inspection are not really related to labour inspection, such as auditing the applications and requests for licensing new recruitment agencies and auditing the applications of obtaining or renewing work permits for foreign workers.
There are five General Directorates of Manpower (GDM) out of the capital Muscat, one in each of the other five governorates. Each of those General Directorates of Manpower has, among other departments a Section of Labour Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health and a Section of Labour Care and Dispute Settlement. The five regional General Directorates of Manpower have eight regional Labour Departments, each of which have a Section of Work Permits and Inspection and a Section of Employment and Labour Care. Each regional GDM has a similar status as the central general directorates and reports directly to the undersecretary of the MOM for the labour division.
OSH activities at the MOM are limited to the capital Muscat and the district of Salala, where there is an OSH specialist in the General Directorate of Manpower there. There are no OSH inspectors or activities in any other district.
Programming and communication
The activities of the Department of Labour Inspection are interrelated with those of other departments. It coordinates with the departments of employment and the Joint Inspection Office concerning illegal work of foreign workers and monitoring the implementation of the Omanization policy. It also receives requests from the Department of Labour Dispute Settlement for interference and settlement of some labour disputes.
The Department of Labour Inspection sometimes receives request from the Inspectors at the Ministry of Fisheries to join them in some offshore inspections. There is little coordination with the Public Administration for Social Security, the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, the Ministry of Health, the municipalities and the Royal Police of Oman.
There is little supervision of the regional labour inspection activities in the provinces by the central authority. Most of the plans of the central authority do not include the regions out of the capital Muscat.
The regional directorates don’t seem to have adequate communication and coordination with the central authority.
Human Resources and career development
Permanency of inspectors
Labour inspectors are civil servants.
Selection process, background required and training
Labour inspectors are of two categories: (a) labour inspectors that have full inspection authority and can conduct individual or joint inspections are university graduates: general labour inspectors, law graduates, and OSH inspectors, science graduates, mostly engineers; (b) junior inspectors attached to the Office of Joint Inspection, who are not authorized to conduct individual visits are intermediate college graduates.
Training is one of the main priorities of the MOM. The MOM has trained 92 inspectors on the national labour law, computer and English communication skills and the ILO trained them on the International Labour Standards and labour inspection skills. New hires have been, going through various training courses, provided by the MOM and the ILO, on the local labour law, International Labour Standards, labour inspection, trafficking, forced labour, trade unions issues, occupational safety and health and public prosecution. The staff of the Department of Labour Services have never underwent any training, other than the general training provided to other public servants.
Types of visits
Both general labour inspectors and OSH inspectors may perform routine and follow-up visits. There are special visits that are also frequently performed: (i) organization inspection visits: conducted to ensure that the inspected enterprise abides by the percentage of Organization determined for its sector, as required by a relevant Ministerial decree; (ii) afternoon inspection visits: conducted to ensure compliance with the prohibition work between 12:30 pm and 03:30pm, during the Summer months of July, August and September; (iii) distinguished treatment inspection visits: to verify the eligibility of enterprises for the Distinguished Treatment Status; (iv) conducted to the agencies involved in bringing foreign domestic workers into the country; and (v) inspection visits to the enterprises applying for importing foreign workers into the country.
Currently all inspection visits are announced to build up more confidence with employers and to keep more channels of cooperation open with them. Under cover or unannounced visits are very rarely conducted by the inspectors. All inspection visits are organized in teams. Labour inspectors have the right to enter the places of work and audit the books, records and documents related thereto to ensure that the provisions of this law and its executive regulations and decisions are implemented.
Role of preventive measures
Within the functions of the Department of Labour Inspection is raising awareness among employers and workers of their legal rights and duties and advising them on the best means of compliance with the labour legislation. One of the main priorities of The Department of Occupational Safety and Health also is raising safety and health awareness among workers and employers and providing them with relevant materials and advocacy. The Department of Labour Services also organizes awareness raising programs for workers and employers, on workers’ social welfare and services required by the law, including, workshops, training courses, brochures and media campaigns. A 24 hours Labour Relations Office has also been established at Muscat International Airport, which provides information to incoming foreign workers on their legal rights and duties. A special brochure has been developed for this purpose and copies are distributed to foreign workers, which contains the most important provisions of the Omani Labour Law and direction and advices to workers.
Inspection visits are usually planned. The head of the DLI prepares quarterly plans, which are revised every month. Priority is always given to the following categories: (i) enterprises on the Distinguished Treatment List (Green Card holders), (ii) enterprises employing 50, or more, workers, (iii) Enterprises referred by other departments for inspection, (iv) enterprises with reported violations of the labour law. Follow up visits are included in the next months plan.
Registries and reporting of accidents /diseases at work
Enterprises have the obligation to notify the MOM of every serious accident, in written, within 24 hours of its occurrence and of every proved occupational injury or disease, and to notify the Public Authority for Social Insurance of occupational injuries of socially insured workers. Despite the legal obligation, work injuries, are rarely reported to the MOM.
The Omani social security system maintains records of reported injuries, but this system covers only nationals and does not cover foreign workers.
The Ministry of Health also collects information on occupational injuries from the health services providers but the reported cases of work related injuries represent the tip of the iceberg, and occupational diseases are not reported at all due to lack of awareness and lack of human and technical resources to diagnose such diseases.
Sanctions and administrative processes
In general, it is very rare that a serious action or coercitive measures are taken against violators of the Omani Labour Law. If a violation is identified, the inspectors start with providing advice on compliance issues, to employers. Then they issue verbal warnings and may proceed to written warnings. Verbal and written warnings may be repeated, but they rarely go beyond that. In case an inspector decides to sanction an employer who does not respond to warnings, the penalty is referred, through the legal department at the MOM, to the Public Prosecutor who again gives the violator time to rectify the situation. It is rare that the Public Prosecutor lets such cases proceed to the court. The sanctions stipulated in the Omani Labour law may be financial, administrative or penal.
OSH inspectors have the right to order immediate suspension, total or partial, of work, or stopping the operation of a machine, or more, in case of imminent risk and they may seek the assistance of the Royal Oman Police, when needed.
Social dialogue and labour inspection
The responsibilities of workers and employers’ organizations are increasing, but their actual involvement in labour issues is still very limited. They lack the knowledge and experience to strongly represent their members, especially the workers’ organization who are still in the early stages of their formative phase.
ILO Conventions ratified
The Labour inspection Conventions No. 81 and 129 have not been ratified, but the government saves no efforts to comply with their contents in order to ensure a greater protection of fundamental principles and rights at work.