by Michael Earley
Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently issued Ministerial Decision 129/2005 setting
out the Standard Regulations for Disciplinary Penalties relating to employees in
the private sector (Ministerial Decision). This Ministerial Decision repeals
previous Ministerial Decisions 78/94 and 79/94 relating to the same subject, and
provides the first such regulations to be issued subsequent to the promulgation
of the Labour Law by Sultani Decree 35/2003 (Labour Law).
The Ministerial Decision consists of two parts: Appendix 1, including a chart of
the various offences and their corresponding penalties (Standard Regulations),
and Appendix 2, setting out the General Rules governing the Standard
The Labour Law provides in Article 29 that any employer who employs 15 or more
employees is required to place in an obvious location the disciplinary
regulations that will apply to its employees. This provision is repeated in the
Ministerial Decision itself. Although the Ministerial Decision is intended to
serve as a guide to employers in preparing their respective disciplinary regimes
for employees, employers are likely to find that the Standard Regulations are
sufficiently comprehensive in their coverage of employment-related offences to
simply adopt them un-amended.
The Standard Regulations
The Standard Regulations place employment-related offences into three
categories: (1) offences relating to office timing, (2) offences relating to
employment discipline, and (3) offences relating to the specific behaviour of an
employee. The first category addresses unexcused tardiness and absences. The
second category addresses an employee's adherence to the work and safety
regulations that have been implemented in his place of employment. The third
category addresses the independent behaviour of an employee during work hours
(such as striking a supervisor or bringing prohibited items to work).
The Standard Regulations provide for the imposition of varying types of
penalties depending on the number of times such an offence has been committed by
the employee in the past up to a period of six months, and the severity of the
offence. There are five different disciplinary options under the Standard
Regulations that an employer may impose on offending employees. The first option
is to issue a written letter of warning from the employer advising the employee
of the offence committed, with a further warning that more severe penalties may
be imposed if such an offence is repeated.
The second option consists of a fine or other deduction from the salary of the
employee, but may not exceed five days' salary for a single offence. The third
option is to suspend the employee from work, provided that such suspension does
not exceed five days for a single offence. Fourthly, the employer may dismiss
the employee with recompense. And finally, the employer may dismiss the employee
without recompense and without prior notice for certain offences. These final
offences are detailed in Article 40 of the Labour Law.
The General Rules
The General Rules set out the guidelines to which the Standard Regulations must
adhere. Although the Standard Regulations are relatively comprehensive, the
General Rules grant employers the freedom to add offences in addition to those
provided in the Standard Regulations, thereby enabling employers to "tailor"
their disciplinary regime to fit their particular industry or 3 activities.
The author is an Attorney with Denton Wilde Sapte’s Muscat office
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