By: Maryam Khan

MUSCAT: As the number of working women in the sultanate rise, the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) is encouraging government and private organisations, through a new article in the Child Law, to have nurseries at workplaces for children of employees.

Introduced in May this year, Article 13 states, “The government and private sector entities can have nurseries for children of the employees. Entities with female employees are encouraged to implement the law.”

Mubarak Ali Alrahbi, head of the office of the Minister of Social Development told Muscat Daily, “This article was introduced recently, and currently we are in the middle of pushing the decision to encourage private and public entities to implement it. We had insisted that the law should be made mandatory, but the decision was vetoed as many entities would run out of the budget.”

He further said, “Even though this rule is not mandatory, at the moment we are sending letters to all public and private entities to build nurseries in their premises. Companies with a women workforce of ten per cent or less can also implement the law, but organisations with a higher number of women should look into putting the law into practice.”

According to Alrahbi, the law insists on nurseries within the office premises to baby-sit children up to the age of three and a half years. “This is a way of encouraging mothers so that they can bring their children to work, put them under their own supervision and avoid troubles faced with housemaids.”

According to statistics provided by MoSD, by 2013 there were 6,100 children (3,100 boys and 3,000 girls) till the age of three and half years in 105 nurseries across Oman. The total number of baby sitters in these nurseries was 818. There are 57 nurseries in Muscat, 11 in Batinah, 11 in Dakhliyah, five in Sharqiyah, six in Buraimi, nine in Dhahirah and six in Dhofar. There were no nurseries in Musandam and Al Wusta.

Alrahbi added, “The companies can charge employees a reasonable amount or the payment can be made to the babysitter. Companies can outsource the services. The most effective way to address working mothers’ concerns about child care is to have their companies operate an on-site nursery so that they can interact with the child during breaks. Omantel is one company which had a nursery before the law came into existence.”