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Albania

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Albania’s labor force numbers around 1.2 million people, according to official data.  After peaking at 18.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014, the official estimated unemployment rate has decreased in recent years, falling to 12.3 percent in December 2018.  However, unemployment among persons aged 15-29 remains high, at 23 percent. Around 40 percent of the population is self-employed in the agriculture sector. Informality remains widespread in the Albanian labor market.  A 2016 International Labor Organization (ILO) report on the informal economy showed that informal employment constituted 32 percent of the labor market in Albania excluding the agriculture sector.

The institutions that oversee the labor market include the Ministry of Finance, Economy, and Labor; the Ministry of Health and Social Protection; the National Employment Service; the State Labor Inspectorate; and private actors such as employment agencies and vocational training centers.  Albania has adopted a wide variety of regulations to monitor labor abuses, but enforcement remains weak due to persistent informality in the work force.

Outward labor migration remains an ongoing problem affecting the Albanian labor market.  For example, recent media reports say a significant number of doctors and nurses have emigrated to Europe, mostly to Germany.  In December 2018, the average public administration salary was approximately 63,276 Albanian lek (approximately USD 575) per month.  The GOA increased the national minimum wage in January 2019 to 26,000 lek per month (approximately USD 225), but it remains the lowest in the region.  

While some in the labor force are highly skilled, many work in low-skill industries or have outdated skills.  The government provides fiscal incentives for labor force training for the inward processing industry, which in Albania includes the footwear and textile sectors.  The National Employment Service provided training and internship opportunities to 8,500 registered job seekers in 2018. It also promotes self-employment through the establishment of new businesses.  In March 2019, Parliament approved a new law on employment promotion, which defined public policies on employment and support programs. Albania has a tradition of a strong secondary educational system, while vocational schools are viewed as less prestigious and attract fewer students.  However, the government has more recently focused attention on vocational education. In 2018, 20.5 percent of high school pupils were enrolled in vocational schools, compared with 15.7 percent in 2013.

Law 108/2013 of 2013, “On Foreigners,” and various decisions of the Council of Ministers regulate the employment regime in Albania.  The law limits to 10 percent the number of foreigners hired by employers in Albania. However, employment can be regulated through special laws in the case of specific projects, or to attract foreign investment, and wages and training costs may be tax deductible.  The law on Free Trade Zones also provides fiscal incentives for labor taxes in case of investments in the zone.

The Labor Code includes rules regarding contract termination procedures that distinguish layoffs from terminations.  Employment contracts can be limited or unlimited in duration, but typically cover an unlimited period if not specified in the contract.  Employees can collect up to 12 months of salary in the event of an unexpected interruption of the contract. Unemployment compensation makes up around 50 percent of the minimum wage.

Pursuant to the Labor Code and the recently amended “Law on the Status of the Civil Employee,” both individual and collective employment contracts regulate labor relations between employees and management.  While there are no official data recording the number of collective bargaining agreements used throughout the economy, they are widely used in the public sector, including by state-owned enterprises. Albania has a labor dispute resolution mechanism as specified in the Labor Code, but the mechanism is considered weak.

Albania has been a member of the International Labor Organization since 1991 and has ratified 54 out of 189 ILO conventions, including the entire set of fundamental and governance conventions.  The implementation of labor relations and standards remains a challenge according to the ILO. Furthermore, labor dialogue has suffered from the 2017 division of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection into two different institutions.

U.S. Department of State Human Rights Report: https://www.state.gov/reports-bureau-of-democracy-human-rights-and-labor/country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/

U.S. Department of Labor Child Labor Report: http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor  

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