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Abstract

Family-Friendly Policies (FFPs) aim to help employees manage their family responsibilities, create flexible-work conditions and enable women to perform better on both domestic and work fronts. In comparison to other countries in the Gulf, women in Oman are joining the workforce in large numbers. This trend continues as educational and vocational institutions within the country consistently enroll a higher proportion of women. Currently, women comprise 55% of the total workforce in Oman and contribute significantly in education, health, media, banking and other business sectors. Challenges such as work-life balance (WLB) constrain their Quality of Work Life (QWL). Omani Labor Law (OLL) grants some privileges to working women; however, there is an overgrowing need to address specific issues that women encounter while managing their work and family life. By resorting to in-depth interviews of selected top-level managers from government, public, and private sector organizations, this study aims to secure managers’ perception of WLB and QWL-related issues and also their opinion about offering certain FFP-related benefits to the working women in Oman. The research informs that despite some provisions in the OLL, Oman lacks a clear-cut policy on FFPs. Most of the concessions to women exist with a tacit understanding of ‘give and take’ or sympathy. Notwithstanding, all the employers confirm their adherence to the OLL and are enthusiastic over granting additional benefits, albeit with individual differences in perception. The research recommends some collective efforts on three major fronts. Governmental interventions are needed to direct organizations to classify some jobs as ‘Family Friendly’. Organizations need to observe healthy workplace practices. Families and societies need to exhibit a supportive outlook towards working women in Oman.

Note on the Author

Shweta Belwal, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business of Sohar University, Oman. She has also taught in different Business programs at Kumaun University, India; Addis Ababa University and Mekelle University in Ethiopia; and Sohar University in Oman. Her main research interests are in the area of human resource management. She has participated globally in academic conferences and has won a number of research grants.

Rakesh Belwal, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Business of Sohar University, Oman. He is also an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the UQ Business School of University of Queensland, Australia. He has wide experience of teaching at different universities in India, Ethiopia and Oman. His main research interests are in the areas of service marketing, e-governance and retailing. He has published a number of research papers in journals and has won a number of competitive research grants.

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