Mid-noon break for workers

By: Kabeer Yousuf

MUSCAT: Random raids to bring offenders to book are under way as construction workers and others who are exposed to sun are to be given a break in the afternoon (from 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm) from today as temperatures have further rose to unbearable heights.

All construction companies which have their employees working under the sun or are indirectly exposed to sun should let them take a break during these hours as instructed by the Ministry of Manpower in consultation with the Ministry of Health and in accordance with Article 16 of the regulatory measures on occupational health and safety in facilities governed by the Omani Labour Law issued by the Ministerial Decision 286/2008, starting today.

Meanwhile, the ministry has said that it has all arrangements in place to check if the companies are abiding by the law and allowing their staff mid-noon respite for three months from June 1, and any company which directly or indirectly violates the rule will be dealt with accordingly, ministry sources said.

“We have beefed up field visits to ensure that the companies are abiding the law and that workers exposed to sun are given not just the break alone but proper resting place also besides making sure that they are not asked to work overtime to compensate for the break hours”.

The punitive actions, in accordance with Article 118 of the Omani Labour Law, range from heftier fines and suspension of work for a day or two, and depending upon the nature of the violation, it can even lead to other legal consequences, according to the ministry. Violating firms can be penalised either with a fine not less than RO 100 and not more than RO 500, or a jail term of not more than one year or both. And if the violations are of repeated nature, it would lead to the penalty being doubled.

Almost all companies in the past followed the rule and allowed their outdoor labourers break from 12.30 pm to 3 pm and functioned in shifts without hindering the cycle. However, a number of companies had to be reprimanded for their lapse to strictly adhere to the rule and some companies were fined for the same. However, there are exceptions to companies in certain sectors such as oil and gas. Companies operating in the oil and gas sector have been allowed to employ their workers during these aforesaid times subject to some terms and conditions depending upon the nature or work.

SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER

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