- Impact of COVID-19 on Middle East Economy – Projects’ Sector – March 25, 2020
- Impact of COVID-19 on Middle East Economy – Projects’ Sector – April 1, 2020
- Impact of COVID-19 on Middle East Economy – Projects’ Sector – April 8, 2020
Remember: although we may be doing business differently these days, the OABC is still open for business! We are here to be your professional community resource during and after this world-altering crisis, and will look forward to reconnecting everyone in our network together, face-to-face again soon.
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Spread of Corona Virus Disease (“COVID-19”) over the past couple of months at the global scale has coerced the governments to enforce certain drastic measures, including but not limited to, limiting the movement of citizens and residents, closure of international borders and suspension of trade to keep a check on further spread of COVID-19. While the said measures remain necessary in the wake of COVID-19, their impact on the economy and contractual obligations would be profound as the global economy comes to a standstill. International Monetary Fund has already hinted that the recession which will follow COVID-19 would be worse than the one that world witnessed in 2008.
In view of such bleak economic landscape, businesses are eagerly looking for legal solutions to either avoid or minimize the impact that non-fulfillment of contractual obligations would have on the health of their businesses and Omani commercial enterprises are no exception. While we look to explore various protections made available to the commercial enterprises against unforeseen situations rendering the performance of obligations either impossible or burdensome, readers are advised to seek legal opinion in respect of their specific situation and challenges.
Civil Transactions Law (Royal Decree 29/2013) (“CTL”) provides protection to the any contracting party where the obligations may either be rendered redundant or suspended, in some circumstances, mainly where:
A requirement common to invocation of either of the foregoing scenarios is that the aggrieved party shall not have contributed to the circumstances which render the performance of an obligation either impossible or burdensome and that the event must be unforeseen.
Article 172 of the CTL lays down the principle of ‘force majeure’ which is a common feature of majority of the commercial contracts. Force majeure, in simple terms, means an unforeseen event which prevents the fulfillment of a contractual obligation. It is pertinent to note that the event must be one which does not exist at the time of conclusion of contract and does not arise, as held by the Supreme Court in Appeal No. 11/2003, out of the negligence or act of the aggrieved party. While Article 172 does not provide for specific instances or situations constitutive of a force majeure event, commercial contracts usually contain an elaborate list of events occurrence of which can be used by a party to either terminate the contract or evade performance of certain contractual obligations directly affected by the force majeure event. What is important to note here is that even where a commercial contract does not contain a force majeure provision, Article 172 would remain applicable by operation of law.
However, where force majeure is defined in a contract then it becomes imperative to discern whether the measures taken as a result of COVID-19 would fall within the set of circumstances listed in the contract and which would constitute force majeure event. A usual definition of force majeure includes references to, inter alia, ‘act of God’ or ‘epidemic/pandemic’ and COVID-19 would be covered under both set of circumstances. However, where a force majeure definition does not refer to an instance which may cover COVID-19, even by reference, or to the measures taken by the government then it would be difficult for the aggrieved party to invoke the application of force majeure on account of non-fulfillment of obligations as the competent court usually defers to the intention of the parties and would not go beyond the term of the contract to include by reference or otherwise such circumstances in the definition of force majeure which were not originally included.
Another important factor to bear in mind before seeking application of force majeure on contractual obligations is to specifically determine the obligations which are affected by a force majeure event. It is pertinent to note that one can only avoid performance of obligations which are rendered redundant by a force majeure event whereas the rest of the responsibilities listed in the contract would remain enforceable.
Where the impact of COVID-19 is such that it does not render the performance of a contractual obligation impossible but rather burdensome on account of rescheduling or for any other reason which increases the cost for meeting the contractual obligation to an extent that the obligor faces severe loss through performance of the obligation concerned, then in terms of Article 159 of the CTL, competent court would be inclined to reduce the burden of obligation in manner so that the same becomes reasonable and does not result in undue losses for the aggrieved party. It is important to note that to invoke the protection provided by Article 159, aggrieved party must prove to the satisfaction of the court that the emergency circumstances were not foreseen and have occurred during the currency of the contract as observed by Ministry of Legal Affairs in Fatwa No. 2/28 of 2018.
However, determination as to whether a contractual obligation has become burdensome or not is a matter of fact and hence, a causal link needs to be established between the unforeseen situation, arising in consequence of measures adopted by the government to tackle COVID-19, and the obligation which stands effected by the unforeseen situation.
In the current set of circumstances, it is evident that the measures taken by the government in the wake of COVID-19 have either restricted or made it impossible to perform obligations for certain sectors of the economy and it is only a matter of time that parties would have to either renegotiate the terms of the contracts or invoke dispute resolution mechanism to avoid adverse consequences to the maximum extent. Where the parties choose the latter, Articles 172 and 159 of CTL would inevitably be involved. However, the party seeking refuge in either force majeure or the concept of burdensome obligation must remain wary of the terms of the concluded contract particularly the requirement to put the other party on notice where the performance of obligation becomes impossible or burdensome.
Since the Sultanate is facing the current epidemic as a new challenge, we believe that the current situation will be deeply assessed by the Judicial bodies and authorities through their judgments to be issued in the relevant contractual disputes. Subsequently, such judgments would serve as a resource for comprehending force majeure or emergency circumstances for times to come.
Abdulredha Al Lawati, Partner/Muscat:
Muhammad Bilal Ramzan, Associate/Muscat
Khadija Al Adawi, Trainee/Muscat
Retrieved from: Trowers & Hamlins
Among these are banning all travel to and from Oman, shutting down schools, malls, shops and cinemas and ordering the private sector to reduce its workforce to the minimum required and put in place IT systems allowing staff to work from home. These are indeed difficult times for everyone, and in particular businesses who have been forced to close or reduce their operations.
Given the restrictions on operations, some businesses have looked at their work force and are asking us questions on what they can or cannot do under the current circumstances.
In this Article, we will address some of your key employment related questions. The government of Oman has yet to release any specific employment related legislative changes to deal with the effects of the pandemic and so this article will therefore address this subject based on the regulations in place and guidance issued by the Omani government.
Can employers reduce or withhold pay?
Any closure of a business or reduction in staff in light of the Omani Supreme Committee’s orders will be treated as the employer’s decision and so, in accordance with the usual legal position, all wages must be paid in full. Oman’s Ministry of Manpower has also recently issued guidelines to employers confirming that during these unprecedented times, employers are required to pay its staff their wages in full. While we can confirm that this is the stance taken in respect of national employees, we are yet to see the position the Ministry will take towards expatriate employees. To date however, these guidelines apply to both.
Can employers force employees to take annual leave with or without pay?
The Supreme Committee recently ordered private business to reduce its staff to the bare minimum and put in place systems that allow for its staff to work from home. Many business, for example in the construction industry, cannot put in place any work from home systems as the nature of the business means its staff (many of whom are blue collar workers), cannot conduct their work at home. And so, any forced reduction in staff will mean that staff will be at home, with no work and yet still get paid.
Oman’s Labour Law (RD 35/2003 as amended) provides that all employees are entitled to 30 days annual leave with full pay each year. The wording in the Labour Law indicates that while employers can dictate when an employee can take annual leave, in accordance with the requirements of the work, it does not expressly make any allowances for employers to place employees on annual leave without the employee’s consent. We are aware of some businesses that have placed employees on annual leave with full pay, with the support of the Ministry of Manpower, during this period.
It is very likely that a business’s ability to enforce any annual leave will depend on a number of different factors, including the terms of any leave policies in place. This will include any attempt to impose salary reductions during leave. It is important that any change in an annual leave policy is discussed with the Ministry beforehand. Justifications for changing the policy and how this will help support the business and the staff will need to be provided to the Ministry with supporting documents or evidence if available. The current reduced staffing levels at all government offices is likely to increase the time taken for any such approvals.
As it currently stands, pursuant to Oman’s labour laws, employers cannot force employees to take leave without pay.
Can employers make people redundant or terminate?
The Ministry of Manpower recently issued guidelines to all private sector companies to refrain from mass termination of national employees, even where projects have been terminated or in the event of closure or bankruptcy. The Ministry has also stated that business must communicate, three months in advance, with the Ministry if there is impeding bankruptcy or closure due to the spread of Covid-19, in order for the Ministry to take measures to relocate the national employees to alternative employers. Aside from that, the Ministry has not issued any further guidelines and we are yet to see whether any guidelines will be issued in relation to expatriate employees. Accordingly, the status quo remains in place.
Further, Oman does not recognise the concept of redundancy, and so any reduction in staff or redundancy of jobs will be treated as individual terminations. Any termination due to the Supreme Committee’s decision, may not be deemed a justifiable ground for any termination. Termination under Oman’s Labour Law can only be made under specific exclusive grounds., such as grave violations of the terms of the employment contract, unauthorised absence for ten (10) consecutive day or health conditions which prevent the employee from doing his work.
Force Majeure does not apply as a principle to employment contracts and employers are not permitted to unilaterally terminate an employment contract unless for the reasons and grounds provided in the Labour Law. The spread of Covid-19 does not fall under any of the grounds provided in the Labour Law. There are certain exceptions, for instance, where an employee is engaged for a specific project, and that project ends or is cancelled due to Covid-19, termination in this instance would potentially be valid. Although the Ministry has also issued directives to the private sector to refrain from terminating national employees, the same may not be applicable to expatriate employees.
Historically, economic difficulty has not been accepted as a reasonable ground for termination by the Omani authorities. In some rare instances however, the courts have accepted some businesses’ decisions to reduce staff as a management decision to avoid collapse of the business. In these rare instances, the authorities require paper trail evidence on the decision process, including proof of efforts to mitigate the reduction/termination of staff. The courts in general will want to see that any decision to terminate due to economic and financial difficulty was a last resort to prevent the business from collapsing. However, in light of the Ministry of Manpower’s recent decisions, businesses must communicate with the Ministry in the event of economic difficulty, as mass terminations or terminations of any kind due of national employees to economic difficulty is currently not permitted. It remains to be seen whether the same will be applied to expatriate employees.
The current legal position with regards to employment in Oman has not changed from the standard position as the authorities have not yet made any changes to employment law to allow employers more flexibility in their approach to battling the Covid-19 crisis.
It extremely important that records are kept of discussions and decisions which are taken as a result of the Supreme Committee’s decisions. Being able to demonstrate the steps that were taken, and their justifications, will be essential in any subsequent courts cases which are brought by employees.
It is also important during this time to keep communication open with staff and with the Ministry where possible. And before taking any steps in terms of staffing, it may be best to seek guidance from legal experts as well as the Ministry.
For any questions on the above article please contact Thomas Wigley, Partner at email@example.com
Retrieved from: Trowers & Hamlins
As you read this article you are likely to have been impacted by Covid-19 (also known as the Coronavirus) in some way, whether personally or professionally. The infection is spreading and the Government response is also evolving. It is clear that the outbreak, now officially classed as a pandemic, is having real and significant affects on businesses and the people working in them.
Whilst there have been many updates on this topic already, in this article we will highlight some of the issues that we are currently advising businesses on in Oman related to the outbreak, with specific reference to relevant Omani legislation. We appreciate that most people are looking for ways to deal with suppliers, customers and employees fairly but also have a need to protect the business from supply problems and cash flow issues. As you read this please bear in mind that everyone’s situation is different and as events unfold there may be other options and issues that are not covered here. We are not able to provide specific legal advice in this article but our contact details appear at the end of the article so please do contact us if you would like advice on any of the matters covered.
The main concern that we are being asked about is the impact of Covid-19 on contractual obligations, particularly where a drop in customer demand is being experienced or anticipated. In this note we particularly address how these contractual issues can be dealt with.
The pandemic is having a variety of adverse consequences for business including interruption in supplies, rising costs and unforeseen changes in demand. If your customers or suppliers are experiencing difficulties in meeting contractual obligations they may have mentioned ‘force majeure’ to you. Of course this may also be relevant to you if your business is struggling to meet a contractual obligation.
Force majeure is not defined under Omani Law, and so the scope and effect of a force majeure depends on how it is drafted in a contract (if indeed it is included at all). Article 172 of Oman’s Civil Transactions Law (RD 29/2013) confirms that “in bilateral contracts, if force majeure occurs rendering the performance of the obligation impossible to complete, the corresponding obligation shall be extinguished, and the contract shall automatically be revoked“. While the provision states that the remedy for a force majeure event is termination, in practice, the rescission by operation of law will not be applicable unless it is absolutely impossible to perform the obligations of the contract specifically by reason of force majeure . In the event that that parties have anticipated and made contractual provisions for force majeure, the contractual arrangements ought to prevail over the statutory provisions.
Force majeure provisions usually excuse a party from delay or failure to perform any of its obligations where it is unable to do so due to an event outside of its control. Clauses differ but generally they include the following concepts:
It is for the party seeking to claim force majeure to prove that it applies; i.e. it is not for the other party to have to disprove it.
Force majeure clauses often refer to ‘disease, epidemic or pandemic’ as possible relief events; in which case we would expect this to apply in the case of Covid-19. If the clause that you are looking at does not, the effects of Covid-19 may still fall within the clause if, for example, it refers to ‘acts of God’ (which one would consider to be a natural phenomena not caused by human action and a court may accept Covid-19 to be an example of), or due to government action (for example forcing businesses to close or preventing the export or import of goods). Many clauses also have some form of ‘catch-all’ wording such as ‘or any other event outside the reasonable control of the affected party and which could not have been avoided with reasonable foresight‘. Again, it depends on the drafting of the clause as to what is caught and whether the specified events are a conclusive list or by way of example only.
If you think the force majeure clause in your contract might apply to the consequences of this pandemic, it is important to check how it applies to the particular circumstances that have arisen. The event might be covered by the definition but has the event stopped a party from performing their contractual obligation? For example, a supplier unable to get products to its customers due to a government prohibition on movement of goods could claim force majeure to excuse it from a failure to deliver on time. However, a customer may struggle to rely on the same clause (even if pandemic is expressly included) as in many cases its obligation is to pay for the goods and take delivery (which may not be impossible as a result of the force majeure event). The fact that demand for the goods has dried-up is unlikely to trigger the protection of a force majeure clause for the customer (but see further below for other possible remedies).
If force majeure does apply the clause will usually require the affected party to give notice of the issue to the other party. It is important to ensure that any notice requirements set out in the contract are strictly followed, as failure to do so may mean that the notice is not valid. It is also important to check what obligations the affected party has. Usually these would include endeavouring to overcome the issue and to perform as soon as the force majeure event ends. Such a clause generally suspends the obligation but may not end it. However, the contract’s termination clause will often allow the other party to terminate it if the force majeure event continues for an extended period of time.
Changes to pricing
If a contract is possible to perform, but has become more expensive, it is worth checking any pricing clause to see whether it is possible to increase the price to take account of the unforeseen costs. This will not always be the case but sometimes price increases can be passed on if there is an increase in underlying costs of materials or shipping costs.
If the contract lacks a force majeure clause, or if the situation falls outside of the force majeure clause, then it may be possible to say that the performance of the contract has become ‘impossible’.
This principle is pursuant to Article 647 Civil Transactions Law which provides that “if an excuse hinders the execution of the contract or the completion of such execution, it may be rescinded or terminated by either of the parties, as the case may be”. It is not a provision which is often used, but if it does apply it is important to understand that, unlike force majeure which may keep the contract in place but suspended, the remedy for impossibility is termination of the contract and discharge of each of the parties from their obligations.
Broadly, an impossibility event is where:
For example, an agreement for the hire of a particular event space for an event on a particular date may be discharged if the Government were to ban public gatherings. However, in the current circumstance it may not necessarily apply to discharge a construction contract if performing the contract just becomes harder or more expensive.
Change in law / material adverse change
While not as common as force majeure clauses, some contracts contain a similar provision which provides for the effects of a change in law. The relief is usually to allow either a variation or renegotiation of the price or to allow one of both parties to terminate the agreement.
With regard to Covid-19 we would consider that any new legislation brought in to ameliorate the effects of the pandemic, such as the restrictions on movement or requisition of certain supplies, could trigger a change in law clause. However, if your contract contains such a provision do check that changes having a general affect on all businesses are covered and it is not confined to matters affecting only the sector that the parties operate in.
Some contracts address the issue of a change in economic circumstances through a material adverse change or effect clause. Broadly these can give one party relief of some sort if their circumstances have changed or allow the other party to terminate the arrangement.
If you do not have the benefit of a contractual provision, Article 159 of Oman’s Civil Transactions Law imposes a statutory term that cannot be contracted out of, which allows a party in “exceptional public events” to seek relief from the court from its obligation under a contract where harsh consequences would arise and lead to grave loss. Article 159 provides the judiciary with the discretion to adjust the effect of the contract so as to balance the respective interests of both parties, where an unforeseen event occurs disrupting this balance. The term “public events” can either pertain to an act of state affecting the public (e.g. change in legislation), or a circumstance having a far reaching or an unintended adverse effect. The current pressures bought about by Covid-19 would seem to fall within the ambit of this provision, however it is also a rarely used mechanism and it is hard to determine how the courts will treat any such claim. As for impossibility, the application of this provision will vary from situation to situation and no general conclusion can be drawn.
Now is the time to look at any contracts which your business is party to if you have any concerns that you or your counterparty might experience difficulty in performing the contract. In many cases the parties will come to a commercial arrangement rather than jump to termination or initiate a formal dispute, but those discussions are much easier to prepare for once you understand your contractual options.
For any questions on the above article please contact Thomas Wigley, Partner at firstname.lastname@example.org
Business Resilience in the GCC: A webinar by Clyde & Co.
Retrieved from: KPMG
Tax Relief measures announced by the Oman Tax Authority in response to Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)
Late morning, on 31 March 2020, an announcement was made by the Oman Tax Authority providing relief specifically to taxpayers affected by COVID-19 as a result of the precautionary measures imposed by the government to counter the pandemic in Oman.
These measures inter-alia include, deferral of tax return filing and payment of tax by up to three months from the due date, exemption from all fines and penalties related to such deferred filing and tax payments, and tax deductions for all donations or contributions made towards handling this pandemic in accordance with the prescribed rules under the income tax law and the executive regulations.
These are summarized below:
Tax return(s) filing and related tax payment deadlines extended by three months
Please note that the announcement seems to be limited to tax returns only and may not cover withholding tax statements which are due on the 14th of every month. It is further not clarified in the announcement if the deadline for filing the final return of income for taxpayers following the calendar year as their tax year has also been extended by three months. One should wait for the necessary clarification(s) to be issued by the Tax Authority in this regard.
Flexible tax payment mechanism introduced along with exemption from additional tax (interest) levy:
Deferment in filing of objection against assessment orders:
Additional timeframe granted to submit supporting documents and clarifications for ongoing objection proceedings:
COVID-19 related donation(s) made tax deductible:
The said extension is surely a welcome move by the government to provide relief to taxpayers who have not already filed their returns and who are adversely impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend our clients engage in discussion with the Tax Authority through their tax advisors to seek clarity on these announcements, wherever necessary.
If you have any questions regarding the above, please do feel free to contact us.
Partner and Head of Tax
This post is to encourage all OABC member companies to support small businesses during this difficult season. As we are all aware, business is tough now, and especially tough for newly established businesses, small companies, or those who’ve had to close temporarily. This is a good time for SME’s to think creatively and find ways to keep going, and when they do…it’s our job to support them.
Would you check out the below ways to shop local and encourage your fellow member companies?
Gift cards are a wonderful way to support these businesses now, then give as gifts or enjoy their services later when the situation improves.
Business as usual will return, and until then, we know the OABC community will practice kindness and patience in support of each other (and excellent hand-washing skills!)
We at MetLife want you to know we are here for you. We would like to share important information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and provide you an an update on this public health situation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a world pandemic, in light of this recent announcement we want to assure you that we are here to support our customers and continue servicing our members in a timely manner.
We are currently not applying the epidemic or pandemic exclusion for treatment associated with Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are currently covering diagnostic testing, healthcare services, and admission leading up to the diagnosis of COVID-19 and for care following the diagnosis of COVID-19 per the policy terms, conditions, and limits. Should there be any change to our current position or based on regulator guidance or otherwise, we will update you at that time.
Life and Disability
With regards to the declaration of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) as a pandemic by the World Health
Organization (WHO), we want to inform you that our group life, accident, and disability policies do not
contain exclusions for pandemic events and therefore death and or disabilities as a result of Coronavirus are covered under the general terms and conditions of the policy.
What is the Coronavirus?
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes the disease COVID-19.
What is COVID-19?
As per the WHO COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered Coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The most common symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) are:
2. Dry Cough
4. Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing (in severe cases)
People with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms of
Coronavirus (COVID-19) may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
Useful information links:
2.WHO travel advice
Where can I find reliable information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
We recommend official and vetted resources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and local governmental sources:
Dubai – Dubai Health Authority (DHA) www.dha.gov.ae
Abu Dhabi – Department of Health (DoH) www.doh.gov.ae
Other countries in the Gulf:
Bahrain – Ministry of Health www.moh.gov.bh
Kuwait – Ministry of Health www.moh.gov.kw | https:
Oman – Ministry of Health www.moh.gov.om
Qatar – Ministry of Public Health www.moph.gov.qa
Where Can I find information about current travel restrictions?
Please refer to the IATA Travel Centre for the latest updates on travel restrictions at https://www.iata.org/ and your Local Government Authority.
What if I suspect I am infected with COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive?
Members with symptoms should visit a medical facility within their network or contact their local health authorities at the numbers provided above. The Doctor will assess and decide if the member needs to be tested for COVID-19 as per protocols established by the local regulator. As the situation is continuously changing, we advise you to check regularly the links provided above for updated information from your local government.
What is the list of hospitals or clinics I can visit should I have Coronavirus (COVID-19)
A member with symptoms can contact or visit any hospital within their network or contact their local health authority at the numbers provided above. The treating Doctor will assess and decide if the member needs to be tested for COVID-19 as per the protocols established by the local regulator.
I want to do the test to make sure I do not have Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The decision to test for Coronavirus (COVID-19) lies with the treating physician and the guidance of the
local health regulator. Members are advised to visit their local health authority website or call the contact numbers above for more information.
How much does it cost within the network – outside the network for the test?
Currently, most government authorities are providing the tests at no cost, and please note that charges may be incurred for doctor visits, screenings, additional labs, and those could incur a charge under the policy terms conditions and limits.
What is the isolation process?
The governmental and private hospitals are equipped with isolation rooms; however, the admission will be based on evaluation of government and clinical guidelines.
What is MetLife’s Business Continuity Plan in the event of a lockdown, or multiple staff
MetLife has launched a comprehensive approach to assess business readiness across all critical functions, and this includes operational readiness, employee mobility, infrastructure resiliency, and information security. We remain committed to ensuring our customers get the service they expect and the timely handling of claims.
To achieve this, we are:
1.Activating our business continuity planning to assess readiness throughout the enterprise
2. Conducting a review of end to end plans and interdependencies
3. Stress testing critical processes and systems including information technology and security
4. Determining alternate solutions for all critical processes, including resources and technology
5. Testing employee mobility and connectivity by enacting elements of our business continuity plan in a controlled environment
6. Scenario planning for a high number of resources being out due to illness and countermeasures and supplemental staffing should this situation arise. Additionally, MetLife is prepared to handle a shift to a remote workforce, with the majority of our team already equipped to work remotely and securely.
MetLife’s Business Continuity Plan in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Preparing for such outbreaks requires structured pre-planning, leveraging internal and external expertise, and coordinated action by all segments of the business, globally. MetLife has a comprehensive Crisis Management framework consisting of three distinct levels with teams set up to respond to incidents on a Country, Regional, and Global level. MetLife’s Infectious Disease response plans are embedded in the global crisis management framework and define country, regional, or global actions to support our customers, protect our employees, and continue operations. A dedicated internal Communicable Disease Working Group supported by pandemic response experts from International SOS on a Global and Regional level act as a steering group for the various local Crisis Management Teams to ensure consistency in approach, proper practice implementation, and global alignment in response.
Activities are undertaken by teams getting ready for any potential activation:
Preparedness: Activities that ensure preparedness, including pro-active communication, confirmation of roles and responsibilities, and technical and system preparedness.
Monitoring and updates: Global and regional monitoring to provide continuous situational awareness to ensure the earliest warning possible to teams and activation is in line with the spread of the disease.
Response and containment testing: Conduct ongoing pre-testing of business continuity setups across the organization, including technical system and IT readiness confirmations and dedicated readiness exercises for respective Crisis Management Teams.
Activities undertaken by our activated teams comprise of:
1. A business travel reduction with guidance to ensure full organizational capability balanced against health considerations of our employees.
2. Activation of our Business Continuity plans across the region with a focus on ensuring service provisions for highly affected countries. Our plans are a mixture of enabling our employees to work from home, splitting critical teams, and increase distancing between employees to reduce any potential direct effects.
3. Increase in customer communication to provide reassurance to existing clients, sharing of fact sheets
to increase balanced awareness to reduce anxiety, and support our customer base in higher affected countries through additional country-specific actions.
4. Implementation of strategies to increase employee and office space hygiene. A combination of briefings, posters, email advice, distribution of hand sanitizers, masks, and increased cleaning intensity.
5. Up to date information sharing amongst our employees via a dedicated microsite containing up to date information for governmental and non-governmental health advisory bodies, travel advice, and latest information on the virus form our health partner, International SOS.
6. Continuous pre-planned adjustment of MetLife’s IT operating environment to ensure enough bandwidth is available and sufficient corporate system access points for all key functions.
7. We are introducing work from home initiatives in higher affected countries supported by our digital
platforms, communication tools, and integrated system access options.
If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact:
Executive Consultant Oman| MetLife
T.+967 24787531 | M. +968 92381084