By: Joseph Benny

MUSCAT: To avoid getting exposed, those who illegally allow their employees to work for others have found a way to bypass the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) rule on wage payment through banks.

Although such ‘employers’ deposit the wages, the amount is withdrawn a few days later using the workers’ ATM cards which they withhold.

The Wage Protection System by MoM and the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) mandates wage payment in the private sector only through authorised banks and financial institutions.

The main aim is to protect workers’ wages and also safeguard employers’ interests by saving them from labour disputes. “My sponsor who has a restaurant business, has five of his employees working for other establishments. He has withheld our ATM cards after opening accounts with a leading bank in CBD,” said a worker on the condition of anonymity.

“Every month, he deposits the salary – RO120 – in our accounts and withdraws it a few days later.”

An employer who allows his staff to take up other jobs admitted that this was being done to avoid paying extra salaries since the workers were ‘anyway earning from other sources’.

“Because they do not work for us, we cannot pay them salaries. We have withheld their ATM cards to take back the amount we show as wages deposited. We faced no problems before MoM introduced this rule on salary payments through banks,” he said.

There are many workers whose ATM cards are kept by the employer. These workers are also required to pay their ‘employers’ RO15-20 every month for allowing them to work for others. On the other hand, some workers pay them an annual fee.