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Guatemala

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law sets national minimum wages for agricultural and nonagricultural work and for work in garment factories. The minimum wages for agricultural and nonagricultural work and for work in export-sector-regime factories did not meet the minimum food budget for a family of five.

The Ministry of Labor conducted some inspections to monitor compliance with minimum wage law provisions but often lacked the means of transportation for proper enforcement. The legal workweek is 48 hours with at least one paid 24-hour rest period. The law prohibits workers from working more than 12 hours a day. The law provides for 12 paid annual holidays and paid vacation of 15 working days after one year’s work. Daily and weekly maximum hour limits do not apply to domestic workers. Workers in the formal sector receive the standard pay for a day’s work for official annual holidays. Time-and-a-half pay is required for overtime work, and the law prohibits excessive compulsory overtime.

Labor inspectors reported uncovering numerous instances of overtime abuse, but effective enforcement was undermined due to inadequate fines and labor courts’ reluctance to use compulsory measures, such as increased fines and referrals to the criminal courts, to obtain compliance. During the pandemic these problems worsened as the labor courts closed to the public, performing minimal administrative duties as officials tried to work from home. Other factors contributing to the lack of effective enforcement included labor court inefficiencies, employer refusal to permit labor inspectors to enter facilities or provide access to payroll records and other documentation, and inspectors’ lack of follow-up inspections in the face of such refusals.

Trade union leaders and human rights groups reported employers required workers to work overtime without legally mandated premium pay. Management often manipulated employer-provided transportation to worksites to force employees to work overtime, especially in export-processing zones located in isolated areas with limited transportation alternatives. Noncompliance with minimum wage provisions in the agricultural and informal sectors was widespread. Advocacy groups estimated most workers in rural areas who engaged in daylong employment did not receive the wages, benefits, or social security allocations required by law. Many employers in the agricultural sector reportedly conditioned payment of the minimum daily wage on excessive production quotas that workers generally were unable to meet. To meet the quota, workers believed themselves compelled to work extra hours, sometimes bringing family members, including children, to help with the work. Because of having to work beyond the maximum allowed hours per day, workers received less than the minimum wage for the day and did not receive the required overtime pay.

Local unions highlighted and protested violations by employers who failed to pay employer and employee contributions to the national social security system despite employee contribution deductions from workers’ paychecks. These violations, particularly common in export and agricultural industries, resulted in limiting or denying employees’ access to the public health system and reducing or underpaying workers’ pension benefits during their retirement years.

Many employers of domestic servants routinely paid less than minimum wage, failed to register their employees with the Guatemalan Institute of Social Security, and demanded 16-hour days for six or more days a week for live-in staff. Many of these same employees were summarily dismissed at the beginning of the pandemic or advised to stay in the home of their employer without traveling back to their own families or communities due to concern about spreading the virus. An undetermined number of dismissed employees returned to their previous employers as conditions stabilized.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government sets occupational health and safety (OSH) standards that were inadequate and not up to date for all industries. The government did not effectively enforce OSH laws. Penalties for OSH violations were not commensurate with those for crimes such as negligence. The situation worsened during the pandemic and labor experts reported on some employers from the apparel industry not providing personal protective equipment and ignoring COVID-19 safety guidelines. The law does not provide for the right of workers to remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment.

The Ministry of Labor obtained 28 new vehicles, using private donations, to provide transportation for inspectors in all 22 departments of the country, including four vehicles for Guatemala City. These vehicles had yet to be deployed as of November but were needed, since inspectors often lacked vehicles or fuel to carry out inspections, and in some cases they failed to take effective action to gain access to worksites in response to employers’ refusal to permit labor inspectors access to facilities. Inspectors were encouraged to seek police assistance as required. Inspections were generally not comprehensive, and if complaint driven, focused on investigating the alleged violation rather than attempting to maximize limited resources to determine compliance beyond the individual complaint. The ministry did not employ enough labor inspectors to deter violations, and many of them performed reviews on paper or administrative duties rather than clearly defined inspection duties. Although the labor inspectorate hired seven additional officers and started the process to hire seven more, the number of inspectors was still insufficient to successfully enforce labor law.

In July the ministry reopened its in-person service windows in Guatemala City to receive labor complaints. During the pandemic the ministry had closed its offices to the public, and workers were unable to present complaints in person; however, the ministry opened a call center and created a website to receive labor violation complaints remotely. The ministry established a hotline to receive complaints, but workers stated that often no one answered their calls. The ministry later developed a web portal for complaints, but not all workers had access to internet. The number of inspections conducted decreased during the pandemic.

Due to inefficient and lengthy court proceedings, the resolution of labor court cases was often delayed, in many instances for several years. Employers failing to provide a safe workplace were rarely sanctioned, and a law requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide onsite medical facilities for their workers was not enforced.

Informal Sector: According to ILO statistics, 74 percent of the workforce worked in the informal sector and outside the basic protections afforded by law. Types of informal work include street and market vendors, recyclers and trash pickers, day laborer construction workers, day laborers, and short-term (20 to 30 day) agricultural workers usually hired through recruiters and without a labor contract or direct-hire relationship with the employer.

Informal economy workers had no formal labor relationship that would make them subject to labor law. They were not directly hired by an employer and were not subject to wage, hour, OSH, or inspection laws. They were not subject to Social Security and had no way to accumulate credits for health care or pension. There were no government entities that provided social protections for informal economy workers.

Guinea

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Guinea-Bissau

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The Council of Ministers annually establishes minimum wage rates for different categories of work but continues to rely on a wage establishment mechanism that the International Labor Organization considers outdated. Although the minimum wage of public-sector workers was above the World Bank’s international poverty line, the lowest minimum wage for private-sector employees was substantially below the poverty line. The law provides for a maximum 45-hour workweek and provisions for overtime pay.

In cooperation with unions, the Ministries of Justice and Labor establish legal health and safety standards for workers, which the National Assembly had not adopted into law by year’s end. The standards were current and appropriate for the main industries. Workers do not have the right to remove themselves from unsafe working conditions without jeopardizing their employment.

The Labor Ministry inspector general is responsible for enforcing the law but did not do so effectively. The number of labor inspectors was insufficient to detect and deter violations, and they lacked authority to carry out unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions.

Occupational Safety and Health: Penalties, which usually take the form of minimal fines that have not been adjusted for inflation, were not commensurate with those for similar crimes. Many persons worked under conditions that endangered their health and safety.

There is no official count of workplace accidents in the country, but numerous unofficial reports indicated the occurrence of workplace accidents. For example in January 2020, an employee lost his fingers while doing maintenance work. This case was reported to the inspector general of labor and was investigated.

Informal Sector: Wage and occupational safety and health regulations were not enforced in the informal sector, which included approximately 80 percent of workers.

Guyana

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law provides for a national minimum wage, but there is a different minimum wage rate for the public sector and private sector. Minimum wage rates are set through Minimum Wages Orders made under the Labor Act and Wages Council Act. In sectors not covered by the act, wages can be agreed upon by individual or collective agreement. Minimum wages for regular working hours of all full-time, private-sector employees are set nationally for hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly workers. The national minimum wage for regular working hours of full-time, public-sector employees was above the poverty line. A normal workweek is 40 hours, distributed over no more than five days per week. The law prohibits compulsory overtime, and overtime work must be paid according to rates set in the law or according to any collective bargaining agreement in force where workers are unionized. There is provision for overtime pay. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud. On November 18 the president announced government employees would receive 7 percent retroactive increases in wages and salaries before the end of the year, but the Guyana Public Service Union criticized the lack of collective bargaining and called for industrial action. The Guyana Teachers Union joined the GPSU in condemning the increase.

The Ministry of Labor is charged with enforcement of labor laws, including minimum wage. The number of inspectors was insufficient to enforce the law effectively. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections but do not have the authority to initiate sanctions. Labor inspections carried out during the year targeted all sectors, including agriculture, mining, and construction. Ministry follow-up of labor inspection findings varied, and compliance among employers was also inconsistent.

The government did not effectively enforce minimum wage and overtime laws. Trade unions criticized government delays and failure to act on wage and hour violations perpetrated by companies in the private sector and particularly foreign-owned firms. Alleged violations of wage, hour, or overtime laws were common in the mining and logging sectors.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health (OSH) standards are not appropriate for the main industries, and government did not effectively enforce OSH laws. The law provides that some categories of workers have the right to remove themselves from unsafe work environments without jeopardizing their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in these situations.

The Ministry of Labor is charged with enforcement of occupational safety and health regulations, but the number of inspectors was insufficient to enforce the law effectively. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections but do not have the authority to initiate sanctions. Labor inspections carried out during the year targeted all sectors, including agriculture, mining, and construction. Ministry follow-up of labor inspection findings varied, and compliance among employers was also inconsistent. In a number of hinterland mining areas, miners reported they never saw any labor inspectors. In March the Ministry of Labor summoned an Indian logging company, Vaitarna Holdings Private Incorporated, for inadequate living conditions for employees and some health and safety violations. In May the Ministry of Labor confirmed that Innovative Mining Incorporated, a joint Russian-Guyanese medium-scale mining venture, admitted to committing several labor infractions, including those related to payment of wages, overtime, and granting of leave.

Local trade unions and NGOs reported the Ministry of Labor lacked sufficient resources to enforce occupational safety and health laws adequately. The government reported 182 workplace accidents, all of which were investigated. There were 15 fatal workplace accidents reported as of September.

Informal Sector: As of the second quarter of the year, the Guyanese Bureau of Statistics reported the proportion of workers in informal employment was approximately 50 percent. The International Monetary Fund and Caribbean regional economists estimated that the informal economy represented 35 to 44 percent of total economic activities. Most informal rural workers were engaged in agriculture or fishing sectors; others worked in artisanal mining, hospitality (such as rainforest hotels), or services sectors including transportation (such as river boat taxis). In urban areas, informal work was clustered in domestic, retail, and service sectors. Regional economists noted that high unemployment motivated many persons to create their own work, such as driving a private minibus, selling ice cream from a bicycle-mounted cooler, or setting up a food cart in the street. Unorganized workers, particularly women in the informal sector, were often paid less than the minimum wage.

Haiti

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wages and Hour Laws: The law provides for a national minimum wage. Minimum wages are set by the government based on official macroeconomic indicators on at least an annual basis, and generally remain above the national poverty line. The government failed to publish an adjusted minimum wage for the year. Its most recent presidential decree setting minimum wages across sectors was issued in October 2019.

The 3×8 law organizes and regulates work over a 24-hour period divided into three eight-hour shifts. This law sets the standard workday at eight hours and the workweek at 48 hours for industrial, commercial, agricultural, and tourist establishments, and for public and private utilities. According to the chairman of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Commission, a public-private labor oversight organization for the apparel assembly sector, the 3×8 law applied only to certain enterprises, thereby limiting its implementation. The 3×8 law also repealed some legal provisions related to work hours, leading to lack of clarity on overtime payments, rest days, and paid holidays, which were often the subject of friction between workers and employers.

The BWH reported cases in which employers made late payments for worker contributions to the country’s social security administration (the Office of National Insurance) or when employers made erroneous or late payments to the Office of Insurance for Work Accidents, Sickness, and Maternity.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law establishes minimum occupational safety and health (OSH) regulations, including rules for onsite nurses at factories, medical services, and annual medical checks. The law allows workers to notify the employer of any defect or situation that may endanger worker health or safety, and to call the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor or police if the employer fails to correct the situation. Observers said OSH standards needed reform, including new policies and programs to mitigate persistent and emerging OSH risks, reinforce health promotion at work, and develop compliance programs. Standards were not always enforced. Penalties for violations of OSH regulations were not commensurate with penalties for analogous crimes, such as negligence.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor was responsible for enforcing a range of labor-related regulations on wage and hour requirements, standard workweeks, premium pay for overtime, and occupational safety and health, but it did not effectively enforce the law. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud. There were no prosecutions of individuals accused of violating the minimum wage, hours of work, or safety regulations.

Labor inspectors lacked training and received little support from law enforcement authorities. Inspectors did not have the authority to make unannounced inspections or initiate sanctions. Despite operational difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry was able to conduct inspections in the garment sector.

There were few reports of noncompliance with overtime provisions in apparel factories. In its 22nd Biannual Synthesis Report, which covers part of 2021, the BWH found that all factories were noncompliant on emergency preparedness and on chemical and hazardous substance management.

Informal Sector: Formal employment remained small (13 percent of the labor force), with agriculture and urban informal sectors providing employment to 40 percent and 47 percent of the labor market, respectively. The government did not enforce the law in the informal sector.

In the absence of effective contract enforcement or state oversight (the government does not track any data on the informal economy, including its size) economic operators tended to remain within family and existing social networks. More women participated in the informal sector than men. Women were approximately 20 percent more likely than men to be unemployed and, if working, 6 percent more likely to participate in the informal sector.

Honduras

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: There are 45 categories of monthly minimum wage, based on the industry and the size of a company’s workforce; the minimum average was above the poverty line. The law does not cover domestic workers, the vast majority of whom were women.

The law applies equally to citizens and foreigners, regardless of gender, and prescribes a maximum eight-hour shift per day for most workers, a 44-hour workweek, and at least one 24-hour rest period for every six days of work. It also provides for paid national holidays and annual leave. The law requires overtime pay, bans excessive compulsory overtime, limits overtime to four hours a day for a maximum workday of 12 hours, and prohibits the practice of requiring workers to complete work quotas before leaving their place of employment.

In some industries, including agriculture, domestic service, and security, employers did not respect maternity rights or pay minimum wage, overtime, or vacation. In these sectors employers frequently paid workers for the standard 44-hour workweek irrespective of any additional hours they worked. In security and domestic service sectors, workers were frequently forced to work more than 60 hours per week but paid only for 44 hours.

The STSS is responsible for enforcing the national minimum wage, hours of work, and occupational health and safety law, but it did so inconsistently and ineffectively. Civil society continued to raise problems with minimum wage violations, highlighting agricultural companies in the south as frequent violators. The law permits fines, and while the monetary penalty is sufficient to deter violations and commensurate with the penalties for similar crimes, such as fraud, the failure of the government to collect those fines facilitated continued labor code violations. As of September inspectors conducted 8,846 total inspections, compared with 4,102 total inspections for the same period in 2020. The number of inspections increased significantly as the STSS resumed normal inspections, suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of September the STSS had an insufficient number of inspectors to enforce the law effectively.

Because labor inspectors continued to be concentrated in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, full labor inspections and follow-up visits to confirm compliance were far less frequent in other parts of the country. Many inspectors asked workers to provide them with transportation so that they could conduct inspections, since the STSS could not pay for travel to worksites. Credible allegations of corruption in the STSS continued.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government did not effectively enforce occupational safety and health standards, particularly in the construction, garment assembly, and agricultural sectors, as well as in the informal economy. Penalties for violations of occupational safety and health law were commensurate with penalties for similar crimes. There was no information available on any major industrial accidents. Employers rarely paid the minimum wage in the agricultural sector and paid it inconsistently in other sectors. Employers frequently penalized agricultural workers for taking legally authorized days off. Health-care workers protested the lack of adequate protective equipment and delayed salary payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By law workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardizing continued employment. Under the new inspection law, the STSS has the authority temporarily to shut down workplaces where there is an imminent danger of fatalities; however, there were not enough trained inspectors to deter violations sufficiently.

While all formal workers are entitled to social security, there were reports that both public- and private-sector employers failed to pay into the social security system. The STSS may levy a fine against companies that fail to pay social security obligations, but the amount was not sufficient to deter violations.

Informal Sector: According to the STSS, approximately 75 percent of workers worked in the informal economy, equivalent to approximately 2.7 million persons. There were different methodologies to measure the size of the informal economy, and a March 2020 UNDP report estimated that 82 percent of workers were part of the informal economy. This definition included workers who did not contribute to any form of social security protection, and thus it may have undercounted underemployed workers who rely on jobs in both the formal and informal sectors. According to UNDP data, informal workers played a large role in nearly every industry, including agriculture and fishing; mining; manufacturing; utilities; construction; wholesale retail, hotels, and restaurants; transport and storage; and personal services. These workers are not covered by the contributory social security system and are not protected by the labor code.

Hong Kong

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The statutory minimum wage was below the poverty line for an average-sized household. The law does not regulate working hours, paid weekly rest, rest breaks, or compulsory overtime for most employees. Several labor groups reported that employers expected extremely long hours and called for legislation to address that concern.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law includes occupational safety and health standards for various industries. Workplace health and safety laws allow workers to remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. Employers are required to report any injuries sustained by their employees in work-related accidents.

The Occupational Safety and Health Branch of the Labor Department is responsible for safety and health promotion, identification of unsafe conditions, enforcement of safety management legislation, and policy formulation and implementation. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate investigations and prosecutions. For the first half of the year, the Labor Department reported 14,368 cases of occupational accidents.

The government effectively enforced the law, and the number of labor inspectors was sufficient to enforce compliance except in the cases of nonpayment or underpayment of wages to, and working conditions of, domestic workers. There were many press reports regarding poor conditions faced by, and underpayment of wages to, domestic workers. Labor inspectors have the authority to conduct unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. Penalties for violations of the minimum wage or occupational safety and health standards include fines, damages, and worker’s compensation payments. These penalties were commensurate with those for similar crimes. The Labor Tribunal adjudicated disputes involving nonpayment or underpayment of wages and wrongful dismissal.

Hungary

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: During the year the national minimum wage was below the poverty level. The law sets the official workday at eight hours, although it may vary depending on industry. A 48-hour rest period is required during any seven-day work period. The regular workweek is 40 hours with premium pay for overtime. On January 1, amendments to the labor code adopted in 2019 that increased the limit on maximum overtime from 250 to 400 hours per year became effective. The code also provides for 10 paid annual national holidays. Under the amended code, overtime is to be calculated based on a three-year period, i.e., employees have a right to overtime pay only if, during a three-year period, they have worked an average of more than 40 hours per week. Observers noted the provision could allow employers to avoid paying overtime for work in one year by requiring employees to work less than full time during both or one of the two other years if it lowered their average workweek during the entire three-year period to 40 hours or less.

The Finance Ministry is responsible for the enforcement of wage and hour laws. The number of inspectors was sufficient to enforce compliance. Inspectors had authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. The government effectively enforced minimum wage and overtime laws and penalties for violations were commensurate with those for other similar violations.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government passed regulations allowing employers and employees not to apply the prescriptions of the labor code in contracts and work schedules. Trade unions claimed the regulations were unconstitutional because they enabled employers to force disadvantageous contracts upon employees and undermined their legal protections. As trade unions have no right of appeal to the Constitutional Court, they appealed to opposition parties to request constitutional review and in May 2020 filed a complaint with the ILO.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health standards are appropriate in main industries and occupational safety and health experts actively identify unsafe conditions in addition to responding to complaints. In March 2020 the government rewrote established occupational safety and health standards to include pandemic protection measures. The government shut down several economic sectors during the pandemic, including tourism, catering, and cultural activities. Workers continued to have the right to remove themselves from situations that endangered their health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in such situations.

The government effectively enforced occupational safety and health laws in the formal sector. Penalties for violations were commensurate with those for other similar offenses. Labor inspectors regularly provide consultations to employers and employees on safety and health standards. Labor laws also apply to foreign workers with work permits. The number of inspectors was sufficient to enforce compliance in the formal sector, and inspectors had the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions.

The employment authority and the labor inspectorate units of government offices monitored and enforced occupational safety and health standards and labor code regulations. According to the Labor Protection Directorate of the Innovation and Technology Ministry, 20,366 injuries and 64 fatalities occurred at workplaces in 2020, a slight decrease from 2019. Most injuries occurred in the processing, manufacturing, transport and warehousing, health- and social care, education, and construction sectors. Most deaths occurred in the construction, processing, transport and warehousing, and agricultural sectors. In-depth inspections were announced, whereas other inspections based on an annual plan, reports of irregularities, spot-checks or follow-up inspections were unannounced. Measures taken against violators included penalties, suspensions, bans, and prescriptions to eliminate irregularities.

According to the Labor Supervision Directorate of the Innovation and Technology Ministry, which is responsible for enforcing the labor code, 71 percent of the inspected businesses violated labor regulations. Violations included illegal employment (19 percent) or reporting full-time workers as part-time employees (26 percent), which were typical in construction, agriculture, and catering; faulty recording of working-hours (30 percent); paying wages or overtime or not paying the minimum wage (13 percent); and other offenses (10 percent) which included delays in paying the last month’s wage and providing necessary documents for terminated employees, violating annual leave regulations. Illegal employment was typical in construction, agriculture, and catering, whereas other violations were not linked to any specific sector. The Labor Supervision Directorate noted that the number of inspections decreased during the pandemic as spot-checks were limited and numerous businesses suspended their activities.

Informal Sector: Labor standards were not enforced in the informal economy.

Iceland

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wages and Hour Laws: The law does not establish a minimum wage. The minimum wages negotiated in various collective bargaining agreements applied automatically to all employees in those occupations, including foreign workers, regardless of union membership. While the agreements can be industry-wide, sector-wide, or in some cases firm-specific, the type of position defined the negotiated wage levels, which were higher than the poverty level.

The law requires that employers compensate work exceeding eight hours per day as overtime and limits the time a worker may work, including overtime, to 48 hours a week on average during each four-month period. Overtime pay does not vary significantly across unions, but collective bargaining agreements determine the terms of overtime pay. The law entitles workers to 11 hours of rest in each 24-hour period and one day off each week. Under specially defined circumstances, employers may reduce the 11-hour rest period to no fewer than eight hours, but they must then compensate workers with corresponding rest time later. They may also postpone a worker’s day off, but the worker must receive the corresponding rest time within 14 days. AOSH monitored and enforced these regulations.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law sets occupational health and safety standards that are appropriate for the main industries, and the Ministry of Welfare administered and enforced them through AOSH, which conducted both proactive and reactive inspections. Workers can remove themselves from situations that endanger health and safety without jeopardy to their employment. AOSH can close workplaces that fail to meet safety and health standards.

The government effectively enforced the law. AOSH employed a sufficient number of inspectors to enforce standards effectively in all sectors. AOSH levied daily fines on companies that did not follow instructions, urging them to improve work conditions. Daily fines were commensurate with those for similar violations. Except for certain asylum seekers, the government provided universal health-care coverage to all workers, including those in the informal economy.

The Icelandic Confederation of Labor stated in its annual report for 2021 that the pandemic had revealed faults with the economy where the lowest earners and vulnerable groups lost their livelihoods and are more likely to experience long-term unemployment. Although violations of occupational safety and health standards occurred in all sectors, violations occurred most frequently in the construction and food industries. Young workers and employees who did not understand or speak Icelandic and did not know local rules and regulations were more likely to be subjected to hazardous or exploitative working conditions.

India

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: State government laws set minimum wages and hours of work. The daily minimum wage varied but was more than the official estimate of poverty level income. State governments set a separate minimum wage for agricultural workers. Laws on wages, hours, and occupational health and safety do not apply to the large informal sector.

The law mandates a maximum eight-hour workday and 48-hour workweek as well as safe working conditions, which include provisions for restrooms, cafeterias, medical facilities, and ventilation. The law mandates a minimum rest period of 30 minutes after every four hours of work and premium pay for overtime, but it does not mandate paid holidays. The law prohibits compulsory overtime and limits the amount of overtime a worker may perform. Occupational safety and health standards set by the government were generally up to date and covered the main industries in the country.

State governments are responsible for enforcing minimum wages and hours of work. The number of inspectors generally was insufficient to enforce labor law. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. State governments often did not effectively enforce the minimum wage law for agricultural workers.

To boost the economy following the COVID-19-induced lockdown, many state governments relaxed labor laws to permit overtime work beyond legislated limits. The state governments of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat passed executive orders to suspend enforcement of most labor laws for a period of up to three years to promote industrial production.

Occupational Safety and Health: Federal law sets safety and health standards. State governments enforced additional state-specific regulations. Enforcement of safety and health standards was poor, especially in the informal sector, but also in some formal-sector industries. Penalties for violation of occupational safety and health standards were commensurate with those for crimes such as negligence.

Small, low-technology factories frequently exposed workers to hazardous working conditions. Undocumented foreign workers did not receive basic occupational health and safety protections. In many instances workers could not remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardizing their employment.

On February 23, two workers were killed, and 26 others injured in a blast at the United Phosphorous Limited plant in Jhagadia, Gujarat. State authorities shut down the plant following the blast.

On June 7, a fire at the SVS Aqua Technologies chemical plant near Pune in Maharashtra killed 18 persons. Preliminary investigations revealed that flammable materials had been stored in the plant without following prescribed safety norms. On June 8, police arrested the factory director on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and subsequently released him on bail. In March, Geneva-based IndustriALL noted high accident rates continued in factories, chemical plants, and mines. According to IndustriALL, the 14 accidents reported during the year resulted in 42 workers’ deaths and approximately 100 workers being injured.

Informal Sector: Violations of wage, overtime, and occupational safety and health standards were common in the informal sector. The World Bank reported most of the labor force is employed in the informal sector. A report issued by the State Bank of India in October estimated the size of the informal sector was more than 52 percent of the total labor sector, but other estimates placed the percentage much higher. On August 26, the Ministry of Labor and Employment launched the e-Shram portal to develop a national database of unorganized workers including migrant workers, construction workers, and gig and platform workers. The portal will facilitate the extension of social-sector benefits to workers in the unorganized sector. More than 30 million unorganized workers registered on the portal as of October 8, nearly half of them women.

According to the World Bank’s Shifting Gears: Digitization and Services-Led Development report, low-skilled and urban workers faced the brunt of employment shocks due to the second wave of COVID-19, and their earnings have yet to return to 2019 levels. In December 2020 a World Bank economist for South Asia and other experts noted more than 44 percent of the country’s informal workers were unemployed in April 2020. In 2020 the International Labor Organization connected the high rate of informal work to a low level of education and skill levels of the overall workforce. Within the informal sector, casual or temporary wage workers were more likely to lose employment than self-employed workers, regardless of industry, location, education, or caste.

Indonesia

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: Minimum wages varied throughout the country since provincial governors had authority to set a minimum wage floor and district heads had authority to set a higher rate. Minimum wages were above the official poverty line.

Most workers are not covered by the minimum wage laws. Government regulations exempt employers in certain sectors, including small and medium enterprises and labor-intensive industries such as textiles, from minimum wage requirements. Implementing regulations issued from February to April for the 2020 Omnibus Law require that sectors exempt from minimum wage rules should pay workers at least 50 percent of the average public consumption or 25 percent above the poverty level of their province. The new regulations also make part-time workers eligible for hourly wages.

For certain sectors, the overtime rate for work in excess of a 40-hour workweek was 1.5 times the normal hourly rate for the first hour and twice the hourly rate for additional overtime, with a maximum of four hours of overtime per day and a maximum of 18 hours per week. The 2020 Omnibus Law allows certain businesses that require temporary employees to be exempt from the 40-hour workweek. According to the February implementing regulation related to this provision, the sectors exempt from the 40-hour workweek include, but are not limited to, energy and natural resources, mining, natural gas and oil, agribusiness, and fisheries.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law requires employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace and to treat workers with dignity and provides appropriate standards for the main industries. Workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment.

There were no reliable national estimates for workplace deaths or injuries. Unions continued to urge the government, especially the Ministry of Manpower, to do more to address the country’s poor worker safety record and lax enforcement of health and safety regulations, particularly in the construction sector. NGOs and unions reported that many businesses continued to operate in defiance of government lockdown orders, at times resulting in COVID-19 outbreaks. In August the Ministry of Manpower released guidance for business-labor relations during the pandemic and items that should be covered in collective labor agreements to avoid disruptions and disputes.

Local officials from the Ministry of Manpower are responsible for enforcing minimum wage, work hours, and health and safety regulations. Penalties for violations include fines and imprisonment (for violation of the minimum wage law), which were generally commensurate with those for similar crimes. Government enforcement was inadequate, particularly at smaller companies, and supervision of labor standards was not fully enforced. Provincial and local officials often did not have the technical expertise needed to enforce labor law effectively. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and can initiate sanctions in the formal sector. The Ministry of Manpower employed 1,352 labor inspectors in 2020 and allocated IDR 191 billion ($13.3 million) for the labor inspections, down from IDR 231 billion ($16.1 million) in 2019. The number of inspectors was inadequate to enforce compliance.

Informal Sector: Authorities enforced labor regulations, including minimum wage regulations, only for the estimated 43 percent of workers in the formal sector. Workers in the informal sector did not receive the same protections or benefits as workers in the formal sector, in part because they had no legal work contract that labor inspectors could examine. The law does not mandate that employers provide domestic workers with a minimum wage, health insurance, freedom of association, an eight-hour workday, a weekly day of rest, vacation time, or safe work conditions.

Plantation agriculture workers often worked long hours without government-mandated health insurance benefits. They lacked proper safety gear and training in pesticide safety. Most plantation operators paid workers by the volume of crop harvested, which resulted in some workers receiving less than minimum wage and working extended hours to meet volume targets.

Gig workers were not protected under wage, work hours, and occupational safety and health regulations. This led to several large work stoppages by gig workers. For example, on April 6, approximately 1,000 Shopee Express couriers conducted a one-day work stoppage in Bandung following a cut in their pay that meant drivers would earn less than the minimum wage. In June drivers at GoKilat and LalaMove held two major work stoppages related to working conditions.

Iran

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law does not provide for a national minimum wage for all sectors of the economy. In 2018 the Supreme Labor Council, the government body charged with proposing labor regulations, agreed to raise the minimum monthly wage by 19.8 percent. There were reported complaints that the minimum wage increase was too low in light of the plunging value of the Iranian rial against the United States dollar, which is used to price day-to-day goods. The minimum wage is commonly below the poverty line in rural areas. In April 2020 media reported that following failed meetings, workers, employers, and the government agreed to increase the minimum wage from the previous year by 21 percent. According to CHRI, the Free Union of Iranian Workers issued a statement denouncing the Supreme Labor Council’s method of averaging the inflation rate for a basket of essential goods and services “that is less than half the actual rate of inflation and as a result lowers what workers will earn down to a level below the poverty line.”

The law establishes a maximum six-day, 44-hour workweek with a weekly rest day, at least 12 days of paid annual leave, and several paid public holidays. Any hours worked above that total entitle a worker to overtime. The law mandates a payment above the hourly wage to employees for any accrued overtime and provides that overtime work is not compulsory. The law does not cover workers in workplaces with fewer than 10 workers, nor does it apply to noncitizens.

Employers sometimes subjected migrant workers, most often Afghans, to abusive working conditions, including below-minimum-wage salaries, nonpayment of wages, compulsory overtime, and summary deportation. The government did not effectively enforce the laws related to wages, hours, and occupational safety and health. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud.

According to media reports, many workers continued to be employed on temporary contracts, under which they lacked protections available to full-time, noncontract workers and could be dismissed at will. In June 2020 a group of nurses protested after their temporary contracts were not renewed. While the Health Ministry had complained of a shortage of up to 100,000 nurses, health-care centers and hospitals increasingly took advantage of labor laws that allowed them to hire nurses with 89-day contracts, which were not renewed. The problem was compounded by the pandemic, as many private and state hospitals lost business from revenue-generating procedures, which were placed on hold. Health-care workers continued to protest during the year in several cities after hospitals failed to pay government-approved wages. None had received overtime pay or COVID-19 health benefits. Large numbers of workers employed in small workplaces or in the informal economy similarly lacked basic protections.

Low wages, nonpayment of wages, and lack of job security due to contracting practices continued to contribute to strikes and protests, which occurred throughout the year. In early June authorities arrested nine workers of District 2 Municipality for protesting. According to the FTUIW, Boroujerd police raided a gathering of Saman Time workers in April and arrested several protesting workers.

According to HRANA, Javanmir Moradi, a labor activist and member of the Electricians’ Union in Kermanshah, was arrested and tried in 2020 and sentenced to one year in prison. During the year the appeals court commuted his sentence to a fine. According to Radio Zamaneh, Branch 2 of Shahria’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Haidar Ghorbani, a construction worker and member of the FTUIW, to 11 years in prison on national security charges and “propaganda against the regime.” In addition to directly suppressing and detaining protesting workers, employers threatened to fire workers inside production units. Managers at the General Directorate of Ports and Maritime Affairs in Khuzestan Province asked workers to pledge not to participate in protests. They also prevented two workers’ representatives from entering the workplace. In the Arvand Free Zone Organization, service workers in the Abadan and Khorramshahr industrial towns who protested wage arrears and went on strike were threatened with dismissal. Gharib Havizavi and Hossein Rezaei, labor representatives for the Ahwaz National Steel Industrial Group, were fired on March 30. Since late March workers in oil refining, petrochemicals, and drilling industries continued to strike in at least 25 rallies across the country over working conditions, employment contracts that disadvantaged workers, and unpaid wages.

Occupational Safety and Health: Little information was available regarding labor inspection and related law enforcement activity. While the law provides for occupational health and safety standards, the government did not effectively enforce these standards. Penalties for violations of the law were not commensurate with those for crimes like negligence. The law states inspections may be done day or night, without prior notice. Family businesses require written permission of the local prosecutor. The law does not provide workers the right to remove themselves from a hazardous workplace without jeopardizing their employment. Responsibility for identifying unsafe situations rests with the technical protection and occupational health committee of workplaces designated by the Ministry of Labor.

Labor organizations reported that hazardous work environments resulted in the deaths of thousands of workers annually. In February 2020, according to a report issued by a state media outlet, the head of the Public Relations and International Affairs Office of the Iranian Forensic Medicine Organization, Hamed Naeiji, announced that in 2019 the number of work-related deaths and injuries increased by 8.5 percent compared with the same period of the previous year. Naeiji stated the three main reasons for work-related deaths were falls, being struck by hard objects, and electrocution. In 2018 the Iranian Labor News Agency quoted the head of the Construction Workers Association as estimating there were 1,200 deaths and 1,500 spinal cord injuries annually among construction workers, while local media routinely reported on workers’ deaths from explosions, gas poisoning, electrocution, or similar accidents.

Informal Sector: The law does not provide for occupational health and safety standards for workers in the informal economy. Large numbers of workers were employed in small workplaces or in the informal economy. Workers lacked basic protections in construction, domestic labor, and agricultural sectors, primarily among adult Afghan men and boys younger than age 18.

Iraq

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The national minimum wage, set by federal labor law, was above the poverty line. The law limits the standard workday to eight hours, with one or more rest periods totaling 30 minutes to one hour, and the standard workweek to 48 hours. The law permits up to four hours of overtime work per day and requires premium pay for overtime work. For industrial work overtime should not exceed one hour per day. The Ministry of Labor has jurisdiction regarding matters concerning wages, occupational safety and health, and labor relations. The government did not effectively enforce regulations governing wages or working conditions. Penalties for violations were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government sets occupational safety and health (OSH) standards that are appropriate for the main industries. The ministry’s OSH staff worked throughout the country. The law states that for hazardous or exhausting work, employers should reduce daily working hours. The law provides workers the right to remove themselves from a situation endangering health and safety without prejudice to their employment but does not extend this right to civil servants or migrant workers, who together made up the majority of the country’s workforce. It is unclear whether responsibility for identifying unsafe situations remains with OSH experts and not the workers. Penalties for OSH violations were not commensurate with those for crimes such as negligence.

The legal and regulatory framework, combined with the country’s high level of violence and insecurity, high unemployment, large informal sector, and lack of meaningful work standards, resulted in substandard conditions for many workers. Workplace injuries occurred frequently, especially among manual laborers; however, no data was available on the specific number of industrial accidents that resulted in death or serious injury.

In February the civil defense directorate reported the death of three sewage workers who accidentally inhaled methane gas during cleaning of water drainage holes. The directorate attributed the incident to a lack of adherence to OSH guidelines.

Informal Sector: A lack of oversight and monitoring of employment contracts left foreign and migrant workers vulnerable to exploitative working conditions and abusive treatment. Local NGOs reported that thousands of migrant workers faced poor work conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, including illegal layoffs, homelessness, unpaid wages, and sexual exploitation. In August the COR Labor, Social Affairs, Immigration and Displacement Committee blamed “illegal” foreign workers for high unemployment.

Ireland

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The national minimum hourly wage exceeds the unofficial poverty line. Laws establishing and regulating wage levels cover migrant workers. The law limits the workweek to 48 hours and limits overtime work to two hours per day, 12 hours per week, and 240 hours per year. The government effectively enforced these standards and passed measures to support incomes and extend unemployment benefits until April in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there is no statutory entitlement to premium pay for overtime, the employer and employee may arrange it.

All sectors of the economy respected minimum wage, hours of work, and health and safety standards. The WRC secures compliance with employment rights legislation through inspection and dispute resolution. The WRC’s Inspection Services have the authority to carry out employment rights compliance inspections under employment legislation.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government sets appropriate occupational health and safety standards. The Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment is responsible for enforcing occupational safety laws, and inspectors were authorized to make unannounced visits and initiate sanctions. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, courts may impose fines, prison sentences, or both, for violating the law. Penalties were commensurate with those for similar violations. Workers have the right to remove themselves from unsafe situations without jeopardy to their employment. No complaints from either labor or management were filed during the year regarding shortcomings in enforcement.

By law an employer may not penalize, through dismissal, other disciplinary action, or less favorable treatment, employees who lodge a complaint or exercise their rights under health and safety legislation. Employers have an obligation to protect an employee’s safety, health, and welfare at work as far as is reasonably practicable. According to a report from the Health and Safety Authority, there were 53 workplace fatalities in 2020, an increase of seven from 2019. Of the fatalities, 23 were in the agriculture sector, and 16 were in construction.

Israel, West Bank and Gaza

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law provides for a national minimum wage for all sectors of the economy. The minimum wage was above the poverty income level for individuals but below the poverty level for couples and families. Authorities investigated employers, imposed administrative sanctions, and filed indictments for violations of the Minimum Wage Law during the year.

The law allows a maximum 42-hour workweek at regular pay and provides for paid annual holidays. Premium pay for overtime is set at 125 percent for the first two hours and 150 percent for any hour thereafter up to a limit of 15 hours of overtime per week.

The Administration for the Regulation and Enforcement of Labor Laws was responsible for enforcing wage and hour laws, and the number of labor inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance. Inspectors had the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. Labor inspectors faced a partial moratorium on their on-site work due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The government did not sufficiently enforce minimum wage and overtime laws, and penalties were not commensurate with similar crimes such as fraud. According to the National Insurance, the level of noncompliance with the hourly minimum wage law stood at 11 percent of the labor market in 2018. According to data from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs, enforcement actions were taken against 156 employers during 2019.

According to Kav LaOved, 700,000 individuals were employed on an hourly basis, which reduced their social rights and benefits because most lacked an employment contract containing specific protections.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health (OSH) regulations were insufficient for some industries in the country, particularly construction and agriculture. OSH inspectors actively identified unsafe conditions and responded to workers’ OSH complaints, but the government did not effectively enforce the law in all sectors. Penalties for violations of the law were not commensurate with those for crimes such as negligence and were seldom applied. The law does not specifically provide for the right of workers to remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. Responsibility for identifying unsafe situations remains with OSH experts and not the workers. The Occupational Safety Directorate, along with union representatives and construction site safety officers, enforced labor, health, and safety standards in the workplace. Labor inspectors have the right to make unannounced visits, but the number of inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance, particularly in the construction and agriculture industries, and scaffolding regulations were inadequate to protect workers from falls.

Informal Sector: Large populations of African migrants were targets of violence. Additionally, government policies on the legality of work forced many refugees to work in “unofficial” positions, making them more susceptible to abuse, poor treatment, and exploitative employment practices. PIBA, unlike police or the IPS, did not have an external body to which migrants could file complaints if subjected to violence, according to HRM.

Up to December 12, the law barred migrants from sending money abroad, limited the amount they could take with them when they left the country to minimum-wage earnings for the number of months they resided in the country, and defined taking additional money outside the country as a money-laundering crime.

Conditional release visas of Eritrean and Sudanese refugees do not include a work permit, making their employment an offense, but the government continued its practice of not enforcing this offense against employers following a 2011 commitment to the Supreme Court.

Three migrant workers without adequate on-site protection from incoming projectiles were killed during their work during the country’s May military campaign. On May 11, an Indian caregiver died when a rocket hit the home of her employer in Ashkelon, which did not have a shelter. On May 18, two Thai agricultural workers died and eight were injured from a direct rocket hit on the farm where they were working. According to Kav LaOved, workers in agricultural sites in the south did not have sirens or proper shelters in their place of work. On May 19, the Migrant Workers Administration instructed private recruitment agencies to allow any agricultural worker who seeks to be temporarily transferred to a different region due to the security situation to do so.

A police unit was responsible for investigating workplace accidents that resulted in death or severe injuries, mainly at construction sites. According to Kav LaOved, however, the police unit carried out only 39 investigations between its establishment in 2019 and June 30, while during the same period some 900 construction accidents occurred, 331 of them being severe or fatal. Less than 1 percent of accidents, according to Kav LaOved, resulted in cases that reached the prosecutor’s office. During the year, 68 workers died in work accidents, according to the NGO Struggle Against Construction and Industry Accidents.

On February 2, ACRI and Kav LaOved filed a petition to the Supreme Court, demanding that the Social Security Institute cover the full medical costs of Palestinians injured in work accidents in Israel, as is the case with Israeli and migrant workers. According to the NGOs, the Social Security Institute covers medical costs of injured Palestinian workers in Israel only retroactively, after the injury is recognized as a work accident. In the meantime, the employee may not work and must either pay or give up treatment and rehabilitation. The petition was pending as of the year’s end.

In December 2020 the government began implementing a 2016 resolution to issue work permits directly to Palestinian construction workers instead of to their employers to avoid illicit trade in permits and attendant high brokerage fees. On March 21, authorities began issuing similar permits to Palestinian workers in industry and service fields. A March survey by Kav LaOved showed that many construction workers continued to pay brokerage fees, sometimes even higher ones, during the year. The Maan Workers Association stated that, without proper enforcement, brokerage fees would remain a problem. An application helping to connect workers and employers began operating at the end of the year. The government continued to issue work permits to Israeli employers rather than to Palestinian workers in other sectors. The work permits linked the employee to a specific employer, creating a dependence that some employers and employment agencies exploited by charging employees monthly commissions and fees. In many cases the employer of record hired out employees to other workplaces.

During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, the Ministry of Defense issued an order allowing Palestinians working in construction and agriculture to continue work only if they remained in Israel for an extended period without returning to the West Bank. On May 18, during the period of civil unrest and the country’s May military campaign, COGAT announced that only workers older than 45, workers in the health sector, and individuals under humanitarian circumstances were permitted to enter Israel, according to media reports.

Italy

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law does not provide for a minimum wage. Instead, collective bargaining contracts negotiated between unions and employers set minimum wage levels for different sectors of the economy. These minimum wages were above the poverty income level.

Unless limited by a collective bargaining agreement, the law sets maximum overtime hours in industrial firms at no more than 80 hours per quarter and 250 hours annually. The law prohibits compulsory overtime and provides for paid annual holidays. It requires rest periods of one day per week and 11 hours per day.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Policies is responsible for enforcement and, with regular union input, effectively enforced standards in the formal sector of the economy. The penalties for wage and hour violations were commensurate with those for similar crimes. The number of inspectors, resources, inspections, and remediation were generally adequate to ensure compliance in the formal sector. Labor inspectors were permitted to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. Penalties were commensurate with those for similar violations but remained insufficient to deter violations.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law sets occupational safety and health standards and guidelines for compensation for on-the-job injuries. Responsibility for identifying unsafe situations remains with occupational safety and health experts of government institutions

Occupational safety and health inspections were conducted by the same inspectors as wage and hour violations under the same authorities. The government effectively enforced occupational safety and health laws, and penalties were commensurate with similar violations but remained insufficient to deter violations.

In 2020 labor inspectors and Carabinieri officers inspected 103,857 companies (including agricultural firms) and identified 93,482 workers whose terms of employment were in violation of labor law. Migrants in the agricultural sector faced unsafe work conditions, including working outdoors for prolonged periods of time while being exposed to temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and receiving wages below legal minimum wage requirements. In addition to farmworkers, unions and workers in the logistic sector expressed concerns regarding the grueling pace of work, work-related pain and injuries, and mental health issues as well as the lack of employment stability and security for temporary workers. In 2020 there were 1,270 workplace deaths due to accidents in the industrial sector as well as 554,340 reported incidents that resulted in injuries.

Informal Sector: Informal workers were often exploited and underpaid, worked in unhygienic conditions, or were exposed to safety hazards. Labor standards were partially enforced in the informal sector, especially in agriculture, construction, and services, which employed an estimated 16 percent of the country’s workers. According to the Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro, a national trade union, such practices occurred in the service, construction, and agricultural sectors. Unions reported significant numbers of informal foreign workers living and working in substandard or unsafe conditions in some areas of Calabria, Puglia, Campania, and Sicily. According to the National Institute of Statistics, the informal sector of the economy was responsible for more than 11 percent of the country’s GDP.

Jamaica

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The minimum wage was above the nationally estimated poverty line. Most workers received more than the legal minimum wage, while some minimum-wage earners held two or more jobs.

The law provides for a standard 40-hour workweek and mandates at least one day of rest per week. Employers are required to compensate work in excess of 40 hours per week at overtime rates, a provision most employers respected. The law provides for paid annual holidays. The government did not universally apply the law that restricts workdays to 12 hours or less.

Occupational Safety and Health: The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Department enforced industrial health and safety standards under ILO guidelines as appropriate for each industry. The department conducted inspections, investigated accidents, warned violators, and gave them a period in which to correct violations. The department took violators to court if they did not correct violations within given time frames. The law stipulates penalties and fines, and the minister of labor and social security has the authority to increase any monetary penalty.

The government did not effectively enforce the law. Insufficient staffing in the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Ministry of Finance and Public Service, and Ministry of National Security contributed to difficulties in enforcing workplace regulations. The number of inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance, and the inspections took place only in the formal sector.

Legal fines or imprisonment for workplace health and safety violations were not commensurate with similar crimes. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security gained compliance in the vast majority of cases by threatening legal action. The ability of defendants to repeatedly appeal a case dulled the effectiveness of penalties. The law has no provisions that explicitly give workers the ability to remove themselves from hazardous conditions without jeopardy to employment, although the IDT may reinstate workers who were unfairly dismissed.

Informal Economy: Local think tanks estimated the informal economy generated more than 40 percent of GDP. Most violations pertaining to acceptable conditions of work occurred in the informal sector. OSH Department inspections referred cases of informal work to the Ministry of Labor for further action when discovered.

Japan

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law establishes a minimum wage, which varies by prefecture but in all cases allows for earnings above the official poverty line. The government effectively enforces the minimum wage.

The law provides for a 40-hour workweek for most industries and, with exceptions, limits the number of overtime hours permitted in a fixed period. Violators may face penalties including fines and imprisonment commensurate with those for similar crimes.

Labor unions continued to criticize the government for failing to enforce the law regarding maximum working hours; workers, including those in government jobs, routinely exceeded the hours outlined in the law.

The Ministry of Labor conducted 24,042 on-site workplace inspections of workplaces they had reason to suspect excessive overtime was taking place during fiscal year 2020 (April 2020 to May 2021). It found violations at 8,904, or 37 percent of workplaces. The Ministry of Labor provided the violators with guidance for correction and improvement.

Workers employed on term-limited contracts, known as “nonregular” workers, continued to receive lower pay, fewer benefits, and less job security than their “regular” colleagues performing the same work. Most women in the workforce were employed as nonregular workers. The law requires employers to treat regular and nonregular workers equally when the job contents and the scope of expected changes to the job content and work location are the same. This law went into effect in April 2020 for large companies and in April 2021 for small- and medium-size enterprises.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government sets occupational safety and health (OSH) standards. Workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing laws and regulations governing wages, hours, and OSH standards in most industries. The National Personnel Authority covers government officials. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry covers OSH standards for mining, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism is responsible for OSH standards in the maritime industry.

The government effectively enforced OSH laws, and penalties for OSH violations were commensurate with those for similar crimes. While inspectors have the authority to suspend unsafe operations immediately in cases of flagrant safety violations, in lesser cases they may provide nonbinding guidance. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. Government officials acknowledged their resources were inadequate to oversee more than 4.3 million firms and that the number of labor inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance.

Reports of OSH and wage violations in the TITP are common; they included injuries due to unsafe equipment and insufficient training, nonpayment of wages and overtime compensation, excessive and often spurious salary deductions, forced repatriation, and substandard living conditions (also see section 7.b.).

There were 131,156 major industrial accidents in 2020 resulting in the death or injury of workers requiring them to be absent from work for more than four days (802 deaths). Falls, road traffic accidents, and injuries caused by heavy machinery were the most common causes of workplace fatalities. The Ministry of Heath, Labor, and Welfare also continued to grant formal recognition to victims of karoshi (death by overwork). Their former employers and the government paid compensation to family members when conditions were met.

Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare initiatives to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace include checklists, educational materials, leaflets, and videos on the proper handling of equipment and use of safety gear, and promoting workspaces organized to minimize accidents.

Jordan

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law provides for a national minimum wage, per month, which is above the individual poverty line. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud. A January increase in the minimum wage excluded migrant workers.

The law sets a workweek of 48 hours and requires overtime pay for hours worked in excess of that level. Because there was no limit on mutually agreed overtime, the Ministry of Labor reportedly permitted employees in some industries, such as the garment sector, to work as many as 70 to 75 hours per week, and observers reported many foreign workers requested overtime work. NGOs reported some instances of forced overtime. As part of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic response, the government announced policies for remote work, reduced wages, and suspension of operations for private-sector companies. The policies included permission for employers to reduce workers’ salaries up to 50 percent in cases where employees could not report to work. As of August the Ministry of Labor received 13,651 employee complaints regarding policies designed to ease the impact of government public health measures on employers.

Employees are entitled to one day off per week. The law provides for 14 days of paid sick leave and 14 days of paid annual leave per year, increasing to 21 days of paid annual leave after five years of service with the same firm. Workers also received additional national and religious holidays designated by the government. The law permits compulsory overtime under certain circumstances, such as conducting an annual inventory, closing accounts, preparing to sell goods at discounted prices, avoiding loss of goods that would otherwise be exposed to damage, and receiving special deliveries. In such cases actual working hours may not exceed 10 hours per day, the employee must be paid overtime, and the period may not last more than 30 days.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health standards were appropriate for the main industries in the country, and employers were required to abide by all occupational health and safety standards set by the government. However, enforcement was inconsistent. The law requires employers to protect workers from hazards caused by the nature of the job or its tools, provide any necessary protective equipment, train workers on hazards and prevention measures, provide first aid as needed, and protect employees from explosions or fires by storing flammable materials appropriately. Responsibility for identifying unsafe situations remains with the Ministry of Labor’s occupational safety and health experts and not the worker. The law provides workers the right to remove themselves from a hazardous workplace without jeopardizing their employment.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcement of labor laws and acceptable conditions of work. The government did not effectively enforce occupational safety and health laws. Penalties for violations were not commensurate with those for crimes like negligence. Labor inspectors did not regularly investigate reports of labor abuses or other abuses of domestic workers in private homes, and inspectors cannot enter a private residence without the owner’s permission except with a court order. Employees may lodge complaints regarding violations of the law directly with the Ministry of Labor or through organizations such as their union or the NCHR. The NCHR reported receiving 12 complaints related to labor disputes through November. The ministry opened an investigation for each complaint.

Wage, overtime, safety, and other standards often were not upheld. Some foreign workers faced hazardous and exploitative working conditions in a variety of sectors. Authorities did not effectively protect all employees who attempted to remove themselves from situations that endangered their health and safety. Labor organizations reported that female citizen workers were more likely than men to encounter labor abuses, including wages below the minimum wage and harassment in the workplace.

The government requires garment-exporting manufacturers to participate in the Better Work Jordan (BWJ) program, a global initiative by the ILO and the International Finance Corporation to improve labor standards. All factories required by the government to join BWJ were active members of the program. BWJ expanded its program during the year to include export factories in the plastics, chemicals, and industrial engineering sectors.

In the garment sector, foreign workers were more susceptible than citizens to dangerous or unfair conditions. BWJ stated that reports of coercion decreased during the year. Indebtedness of foreign garment workers to third parties and involuntary or excessive overtime persisted. While the law sets the minimum wage, a substantial portion of the standard monthly minimum wage for foreign workers in the garment industry was used to pay employment placement agencies for food, accommodation, and travel for workers from their home countries, according to an international NGO. In January BWJ launched a two-year initiative to improve the mental health of factory workers in the garment sector, a matter NGOs had raised during 2019 collective bargaining agreement discussions, by training medical providers and Ministry of Health staff who treat factory workers.

Informal Sector: The Ministry of Labor did not consistently inspect and monitor all workplaces or apply all the protections of the labor code for vulnerable workers such as domestic and agricultural workers. Authorities were hampered by barriers to the inspection of homes where domestic workers lived. Labor organizations stated that many freelancing agricultural workers, domestic workers, cooks, and gardeners, most of whom were foreign workers, were not enrolled for social benefits from the Social Security Corporation because only salaried employees were automatically enrolled, and optional enrollment was limited to citizens. Domestic workers face discrimination by nationality in their wages. Although the law was amended in 2008 to extend certain rights to domestic and agricultural workers, the law required that each group be covered by its own legislation.

In June 2020 the Ministry of Labor shut down two textile factories in the town of Karak following complaints of poor working conditions and maltreatment of employees; as of September the two factories remained closed pending court rulings. The 1,500 Jordanian employees of these factories were being paid via a social security program to ease the impact of COVID-19 on the private sector, while 230 Burmese workers were waiting to be deported or relocated to other factories.

On March 14, the government approved a new law to regulate the agricultural sector, preserve workers’ rights, protect against discrimination, and provide workers with coverage under the Social Security Law. For the first time, the law also gives agricultural workers the right to file lawsuits and submit complaints to labor inspectors, have access to the courts, and be exempt from work- or residency-permit fees. Local NGOs said the bylaw fell short of expectations, particularly because it did not address work permits for migrant workers, who make up most of the sector’s workforce. Other NGOs criticized the absence of provisions on maternity leave, childcare, and equal health insurance for female workers in the informal sector. The law does not require farms with three or fewer workers to enroll employees in social security.

Employers reportedly subjected some workers in the agricultural sector, the majority of whom are Egyptians, to exploitative conditions. According to a domestic NGO, agricultural workers usually received less than the minimum wage. Some employers in the agricultural sector confiscated passports. Egyptian migrant workers were also vulnerable to exploitation in the construction industry, where employers usually paid migrant workers less than the minimum wage and failed to uphold occupational health and safety standards.

Domestic workers often faced unacceptable working conditions, working long hours without holidays or days off during the week and not being paid on time. NGOs report employers regularly confiscate passports and other documents. While domestic workers could file complaints in person with the Ministry of Labor’s Domestic Workers Directorate or the PSD, many domestic workers complained there was no follow-up on their cases. The CTU operates a 24-hour hotline, with limited translation capabilities. From January through August, the Ministry of Labor referred 29 cases to the CTU; 104 workers were placed in shelters.

Advocates reported that migrant domestic workers who sought government assistance or made allegations against their employers frequently faced counterclaims of criminal behavior from the employers. Employers could file criminal complaints or flight notifications with police stations against domestic workers. Authorities waived immigration overstay fines for workers deported for criminal allegations or expired work permits. Most fleeing domestic workers reportedly sought to escape conditions indicative of forced labor or abuse, including unpaid wages and, to a lesser extent, sexual or physical abuse. By law employers are responsible for renewing foreign employees’ residency and work permits but often failed to do so for domestic employees. NGOs reported authorities administratively detained domestic workers and other migrant workers and did not inform them of their rights or the reasons for their detention. Legal processes for migrant workers take years and translation services are minimal.

Migrant workers were disproportionately affected by the government’s COVID-19 response. Factory workers contracted the virus at higher rates due to poor health and safety standards and overcrowding, particularly those working in factories in Dalil and Aqaba. Migrant workers are excluded from government programs to offset the effects of the pandemic. Migrant workers are also vulnerable to hate speech and negative stereotypes in print, broadcast, and social media. As of September, the Hemaya online platform the government launched in 2020 to assist foreign workers with their pandemic-related difficulties had received 85,000 complaints on delayed wages and job terminations. Medium and small factories were especially affected by the pandemic; some could not meet commitments to staff, and some cancelled contracts and closed worker dormitories. The government continued its cooperation with foreign embassies to waive overstay fees for migrant domestic workers who wished to repatriate after a two-year stay in the country, a policy that greatly reduced the number of domestic workers stranded at their embassies’ shelters.

In May the Ministry of Labor began to address dormitory conditions of migrant workers in response to complaints. Officials conducted inspections, reported unlicensed dormitories to the Ministry of Justice, and coordinated with BWJ to renovate dormitories.

The informal labor market continues to be the primary sector of employment for refugees. Syrian refugees are mostly employed in the informal sector due to the limited number of “fee-free” work permits available, high annual cost of work permits for work in areas not covered in the fee-free scheme, and limited sectors in which refugees are permitted to work.

Kazakhstan

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The national monthly minimum wage was above the poverty line. Every region estimated its own poverty line. The law stipulates the normal workweek should not exceed 40 hours. It limits heavy manual labor or hazardous work to 36 hours per week. The law limits overtime to two hours per day, or one hour per day for heavy manual labor, and requires overtime to be paid at least at a 50 percent premium. The law prohibits compulsory overtime and any overtime for work in hazardous conditions. The law provides that labor agreements may stipulate the length of working time, holidays, and paid annual leave for each worker. By law employees are entitled to 24 days of paid annual leave per year.

During the summer multiple strikes took place in the oil services sector in Mangystau Region regarding wage discrepancies among direct employees of oil companies, prime contractors, and subcontractors. The strikes followed changes made in December 2020 to the contract of the state-owned oil company KazMunaiGaz that stated contracted employees’ wages should not be lower than the wages of the host company’s employees with similar job responsibilities and qualifications. In September, KazMunaiGaz CEO Alike Aidarbayev stated subcontractors misinterpreted the changes, which do not apply to all subcontracted companies.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government set occupational health and safety standards that were appropriate to the main industries. The law requires employers to suspend work that could endanger the life or health of workers and to warn workers of any harmful or dangerous work conditions or the possibility of any occupational disease. Occupational safety and health standards were set and conditions were inspected by government experts. The law specifically grants workers the right to remove themselves from situations that endanger their health or safety without suffering adverse employment action. In June the government approved the Occupational Health and Safety Action Plan, effective until 2025. The plan aims to achieve a 10 percent reduction of industrial injuries and a 20 percent decrease in the number of workers laboring in hazardous conditions.

In some regions doctors complained of a shortage of medical equipment, test kits, and health specialists in rural hospitals. A doctor from Jambyl Province reportedly stated she was the only infectious disease specialist on hand to deal with COVID-19 patients at the main hospital in the Merki District, which has an estimated 85,000 inhabitants.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection enforced standards for minimum wages, workhour restrictions, overtime, and occupational safety and health. By law labor inspectors have the right to conduct announced and unannounced inspections of workplaces to detect violations. Both types of inspections take place only after written notification, except in cases where the inspection is conducted based on a request from law enforcement authorities or a complaint related to certain extreme health and safety hazards. From January to June, inspectors conducted 1,900 inspections and detected 3,000 violations of the law. An FTUK analysis concluded that violations centered on wage arrears or delays, illegal or forced layoffs, labor safety, violations of collective agreements, unequal payments, work conditions of local and foreign workers, and incorrect indexation of wages. The absence of local labor unions contributed to some of these violations.

The law provides for so-called employer’s declarations. Under this system, labor inspectors may extend a certificate of trust to enterprises that complied with labor legislation requirements. Certified enterprises are exempt from labor inspections for three years. In the opinion of labor rights activists, the practice may worsen labor conditions and conceal problems.

By law any enterprise or company may form a production council to address labor safety problems between representatives of an employer and employees. These councils are eligible to assign technical labor inspectors to conduct their own inspections of the employees’ work conditions, and their resolutions are mandatory for both employers and employees. In April there were 15,575 production councils and 17,595 volunteer labor inspectors, according to the government.

The government did not consistently enforce the law. Violations of law are considered administrative offenses, not criminal ones, and penalties for violations of minimum wage and overtime law were not commensurate with crimes such as fraud. For example a minimal punishment for conviction of fraud is a substantial fine or imprisonment for up to two years, while violations of wage or overtime payment provisions result in fines. Penalties for violations of occupational health and safety law were also not commensurate with crimes such as negligence. There were reports some employers ignored regulations concerning occupational health and safety.

Regarding workplace injuries, 520 workers in the processing sector were injured, 349 employees in mining were injured, and 229 workers in the construction sector sustained injuries. The highest number of fatalities – 54 workers – was recorded in the construction sector, followed by 39 fatalities in the processing sector and 24 fatalities in mining. The government attributed many labor-related deaths to antiquated equipment, insufficient detection and prevention of occupational diseases in workers engaged in harmful labor, and disregard for safety regulations. Experts also cited low qualifications of workers, a deficit of qualified safety engineers, and corruption in the companies as other leading reasons for occupational accidents. The most dangerous jobs were in mining, construction, and oil and gas, according to an expert analysis of occupations with the highest fatalities. The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection reported that in 2020, 23 percent of employees worked in hazardous conditions.

According to the FTUK, in 78 percent of fatal accidents in 2020, employers were blamed for violating occupational health and safety regulations. Some companies tried to avoid payments to injured workers. Companies may refuse to compensate workers for nonfatal industrial injuries if the worker did not comply with labor safety requirements.

In August the Karaganda Labor Inspection Department found liable the management of steel producer ArcelorMittal Temirtau (AMT) for a May 26 accident in which two crane operators sustained severe burns after a cast iron ladle fell during crane lifting operations, spilling its contents onto the two operators. The Karaganda Labor Inspection Department assigned 100 percent of the blame for the accident to AMT for unsatisfactory organization of labor and use of broken equipment.

Informal Sector: The government reported in 2020 that 1.22 million citizens of the country’s workforce of nine million persons worked in the informal economy. Government statistics defined the informally employed as those who were not registered as either employed or unemployed. The government also categorized those individuals who were self-paid or self-employed as working in the informal economy. A Ministry of Finance spokesperson separately reported during the year that up to one-third of workers were engaged in the informal sector. Informal workers were concentrated in the retail trade, transport services, agriculture, real estate, beauty and hair dressing salons, and laundry and dry-cleaning businesses. Small entrepreneurs and their employees for the most part worked without health, social, or pension benefits, and did not pay into the social security system.

Kenya

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law provides for a national minimum wage for all sectors of the economy, and the minimum wage for all occupations exceeded the World Bank poverty rate. Regulation of wages is part of the Labor Institutions Act, and the government established basic minimum wages by occupation and location, setting minimum standards for monthly, daily, and hourly work in each category.

The law limits the normal workweek to 52 hours (60 hours for night workers); some categories of workers had lower limits. It specifically excludes agricultural workers from such limitations. It entitles an employee in the nonagricultural sector to one rest day per week and 21 days of combined annual and sick leave. The law also requires total hours worked (regular time plus overtime) in any two-week period not exceed 120 hours (144 hours for night workers) and provides premium pay for overtime.

The Ministry of Labour is responsible for enforcement of wage and hour laws. The government did not employ enough inspectors to surveil and enforce wage and hour laws. The same inspectors were responsible for occupational safety and health enforcement and have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. The government did not effectively enforce wage and hour laws, and penalties were not commensurate with those for comparable offenses. Authorities reported some workweek and overtime violations, but workers in some enterprises, particularly in the export-processing zones and those in road construction, claimed employers were not penalized for forcing them to work extra hours without overtime pay to meet production targets. Hotel industry workers were usually paid the minimum statutory wage, but employees worked long hours without compensation. Additionally, employers often did not provide required nighttime transport, leaving workers vulnerable to assault, robbery, and sexual harassment.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law details environmental, health, and safety standards. The Ministry of Labour’s Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety Services has the authority to inspect factories and work sites but employed an insufficient number of labor inspectors to conduct regular inspections. The same inspectors were responsible for wage and hour enforcement. Fines generally were insufficient to deter violations.

The directorate’s health and safety inspectors can issue notices against employers for practices or activities that involve a risk of serious personal injury. Employers may appeal such notices to the Factories Appeals Court, a body of four members, one of whom must be a High Court judge. The law stipulates factories employing 20 or more persons have an internal health and safety committee with representation from workers. According to the government, many of the largest factories had health and safety committees.

Workers, including foreigners and immigrants, have the legal right to remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. The Ministry of Labour did not effectively enforce these regulations, and workers were reluctant to remove themselves from working conditions that endangered their health or safety due to the risk of losing their jobs. The Kenya Federation of Employers provided training and auditing of workplaces for health and safety practices.

The law provides for labor inspections to prevent labor disputes, accidents, and conflicts and to protect workers from occupational hazards and disease by ensuring compliance with labor laws. The government paid low salaries to labor inspectors and did not provide vehicles, fuel, or other resources, making it very difficult for labor inspectors to do their work effectively and leaving them vulnerable to bribes and other forms of corruption. The State Department for Labor had yet to hire new inspectors after a large number retired in the previous two years.

Informal Sector: More than 80 percent of citizens worked in the informal sector, according to World Bank data. The Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics reported in 2020 that informal-sector operations cut across all sectors of the economy and sustain a majority of households, with predominant work sectors in order of prevalence including agriculture and livestock, wholesale and retail trade, repair of vehicles and motorcycles, small-scale and home-based manufacturing and production, and accommodation and food service activities.

The law provides social protections for workers employed in the formal and informal sectors. Informal workers organized into associations, cooperatives, and, in some cases, unions. All local employers, including those in the informal sector, are required to contribute to the National Hospital Insurance Fund and the National Social Security Fund; these provide health insurance and pensions, respectively. Most informal workers were not covered because they did not make the required contributions, either because they were self-employed, or their employers did not contribute. Informal workers worked long hours, with high mean weekly working hours of 60 hours. Although informal-sector workers are covered by wage and hour laws and occupational safety and health law, the government did not inspect or enforce violations in the informal sector. Local authorities often harassed home-based and microenterprises, which often operated without licenses due to a lack of business premises. Workers in these enterprises were unable or unlikely to receive help from local authorities to enforce workplace protections and were inhibited from making complaints due to fear of losing their sole livelihood.

Kiribati

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The national minimum wage for employees of local businesses and companies was above the poverty line, but it was lower than the minimum wage rate for employees of foreign funded projects. Most of the working population worked in the informal, subsistence economy where the law was not enforced. The Public Service Office sets wages in the public sector, which makes up approximately 80 percent of the employment in the formal economy.

The law sets the workweek at 40 hours. The law provides for paid annual holidays for all employees except casual workers and 12 weeks for maternity leave, but it leaves the determination up to individual employment contracts, which are then submitted to the Ministry of Employment and Human Resource for documentation. Workers in the public sector worked 36.25 hours per week, with overtime pay required for additional hours. No law or regulation governs the amount of overtime an employee may work.

Occupational Safety and Health: The Ministry of Employment and Human Resource is responsible for enforcing occupational safety and health standards. Employers are liable for the expenses of workers injured on the job. By law workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger their health or safety without threat to their employment. Penalties for violations include fines commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud and negligence.

The government generally enforced wage and safety regulations in the formal sector. The ministry conducted labor inspections and did not receive any work-related injury complaints in the year to October. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions.

Informal Sector: The informal sector provided an important source of livelihood, as employment opportunities in the formal sector were limited. An estimated 80 percent of the working population worked in the informal sector, involved in agriculture, fishing, food preparation and sales, and home-based activities. There was no systematic process to record and report workplace injuries. A lack of resources and qualified personnel restricted the government’s ability to enforce employment laws effectively in the informal sectors.

Kosovo

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The government-set minimum wage was higher than the official poverty income line.

The law provides for a standard 40-hour work week, requires rest periods, limits the number of regular hours worked to 12 per day, limits overtime to 8 hours per week and 40 hours per month, requires payment of a premium for overtime work, and prohibits excessive compulsory overtime. The law provides for 20 days of paid leave per year for employees and 12 months of partially paid maternity leave.

Ministry of Labor inspectors were responsible for enforcing all labor standards, including those pertaining to wages and hours. The government did not effectively enforce the law, and penalties were not commensurate with those for similar violations. The number of inspectors was insufficient to deter violations in both the formal and informal sectors and enforcement was further curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions; however, the inspectorate was not fully functional due to budgetary and staffing shortfalls.

According to the BSPK, employers failed to abide by official labor standards that provided equal standards of protection to public and private sector workers. The BSPK reported a lack of government oversight and enforcement, particularly of the standard workweek and compulsory and unpaid overtime. Many individuals worked long hours in the private sector as “at-will” employees, without employment contracts, regular pay, or contributions to their pensions. The BSPK reported employers fired workers without cause in violation of the law and refused to respect worker holidays.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law sets appropriate health and safety standards for workplaces and governs all industries in the country. The responsibility for identifying unsafe workplaces lies with individual employers, while the services that would secure safe work conditions lie with occupational safety and health experts rather than workers.

The same inspectors responsible for wage and hour laws also had authority over occupational safety and health laws. The government did not effectively enforce occupational safety and health laws, and penalties for violations were not commensurate to those of similar laws.

The law does not provide workers the right to remove themselves from a dangerous work situation without jeopardy to their employment. According to the Labor Ministry, informal employer-employee arrangements may address when and whether employees may remove themselves from work due to dangerous work situations, but the government did not track these arrangements. There were nine worker fatalities because of inadequate or unsafe work conditions during the year. According to experts, violations of wage, overtime, and occupational health and safety standards were common for both men and women, as well as foreign migrant workers, particularly those who faced hazardous or exploitative working conditions, such as in construction and agriculture.

Informal Sector: There are no reliable official statistics on the informal economy, but an October 2020 EU-commissioned report estimated the informal and black market at 32 percent of GDP. Workers in the informal sector were not covered by all wage, hour, and occupational safety and health laws. The Association of Labor Unions reported lack of enforcement by the judiciary, especially in the informal sector, citing resource and capacity limitations within the labor inspectorate.

Kuwait

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law does not provide for a national minimum wage for all sectors of the economy. It sets a national monthly minimum wage in the oil sector, and the private sector, and a minimum monthly wage for domestic workers. The minimum monthly salary for the private sector is approximately 75 dinars ($250) whereas the approximate lowest monthly salary for the public sector is 600 dinars ($2,000). Domestic workers earn a minimum monthly salary of approximately 60 dinars ($200).

The law limits the standard workweek to 48 hours (40 hours for the petroleum industry) and gives private-sector workers 30 days of annual leave. The law also forbids requiring employees to work more than 60 hours per week or 10 hours per day. The law provides for 13 designated national holidays annually. Workers are entitled to 125 percent of base pay for working overtime and 150 percent of base pay for working on their designated weekly day off. The government effectively enforced the law in most cases, but there were gaps in enforcement with respect to low-skilled migrant workers. Penalties were commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government issued occupational health and safety standards that were up-to-date and appropriate for the main industries. The law provides that all outdoor work stops between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. during June, July, and August, or when the temperature rises to more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. A worker could file a complaint against an employer with PAM if the worker believed his or her safety and health were at risk. As of November, PAM conducted 2,773 inspections; between June and August, PAM recorded 1,045 companies in violation of the work ban.

PAM was responsible for enforcement of wages, hours, overtime, and occupational safety and health regulations of workers. Labor and occupational safety inspectors monitored private firms. The government periodically inspected enterprises to raise awareness among workers and employers and to assure that they abided by existing safety rules, controlled pollution in certain industries, trained workers to use machines safely, and reported violations.

The government did not effectively enforce all occupational safety and health laws. Penalties for violations of the law were commensurate with those for crimes like negligence. Workers were responsible for identifying and reporting unsafe situations to PAM. Occupational safety and health inspectors were required to actively monitor conditions and take appropriate actions when violations occur. PAM monitored work sites to inspect for compliance with rules banning summer work and recorded hundreds of violations during the year. Workers could also report these violations to their embassies, the Kuwait Trade Union Federation, Kuwait Society for Human Rights, or the Labor Disputes Department. Noncompliant employers faced warnings, fines, or forced suspensions of company operations. The law does not provide domestic workers the right to remove themselves from a hazardous workplace without jeopardizing their employment.

Informal Sector: The law does not provide for occupational health and safety standards for workers in the informal economy. PAM has jurisdiction over domestic worker matters and enforces domestic labor working standards.

At times PAM intervened to resolve labor disputes between foreign workers and their employers. The authority’s labor arbitration panel sometimes ruled in favor of foreign laborers who claimed violations of work contracts by their employers. The government was more effective in resolving unpaid salary disputes involving private sector laborers than those involving domestic workers.

Domestic workers and other low-skilled foreign workers in the private sector frequently worked in excess of 48 hours a week, with no day of rest. The law required workers to earn an established monthly wage in order to sponsor their family to live in the country, although certain professions were exempted. As a result, most low-wage employees were not able to bring their families to the country.

Although the law prohibits withholding of workers’ passports, the practice remained common among sponsors and employers of foreign workers, particularly domestic employees in the home, and the government demonstrated no consistent efforts to enforce this prohibition. Domestic workers had little recourse when employers violated their rights except to seek admittance to the domestic workers’ shelter where the government mediated between sponsors and workers either to assist the worker in finding an alternate sponsor, or to assist in voluntary repatriation.

There were no inspections of private residences, where most of the country’s domestic workers were employed. Reports indicated employers forced domestic workers to work overtime without additional compensation. In 2020 PAM began implementing a “blacklist” system that would prevent the sponsorship of domestic workers by recruitment offices or employers that violate workers’ rights. The government usually limited punishment for abusive employers to administrative actions such as assessing fines, shutting employment firms, issuing orders for employers to return withheld passports, or requiring employers to pay back wages. In September 2020 PAM, the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, the United Nations Development Program and the International Organization for Migration launched the Tamkeen Initiative to implement the International Recruitment Integrity System to promote ethical recruitment of migrant workers. As of November, PAM stated that the first phase of the Tamkeen Initiative, which included training for its own staff and recruitment agencies, was complete.

Some domestic workers did not have the ability to remove themselves from an unhealthy or unsafe situation without endangering their employment. There were reports of domestic workers’ dying or attempting to die by suicide due to desperation over abuse, including sexual violence or poor working conditions. The law provides legal protections for domestic workers, including a formal grievance process managed by PAM. A worker who was not satisfied with the department’s arbitration decision has the right to file a legal case via the labor court.

Several embassies with large domestic worker populations in the country met with varying degrees of success in pressing the government to prosecute serious cases of domestic worker abuse. Severe cases included those where there were significant, life-threatening injuries or death.

In July, PAM imposed a ban on residence permits for laborers in the country working in the industrial, agricultural, and fishing industries. In September, PAM implemented a decision to permit expatriates to transfer commercial visit visas to a work permits due to widespread labor shortages.

Kyrgyzstan

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law provides for a national minimum wage for all sectors of the economy, which is less than the official government’s 2020 poverty line. The law on minimum wage states it should rise gradually to meet the cost of living. The government did not effectively enforce laws related to the minimum wage and overtime. There was limited employer liability for late payment of wages, allowances, or other social benefits. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud. The standard workweek is 40 hours, usually with a five-day week. For state-owned industries, there is a mandated 24-hour rest period in a seven-day workweek. According to the labor code, overtime work cannot exceed four hours per day or 20 hours per week. The labor code also states workers engaged in overtime work must receive compensatory leave or premium pay of between 150 and 200 percent of the hourly wage. Compliance with these requirements differed among employers. For example large companies and organizations with strong labor unions often abided by these provisions. Employers of small or informal firms where employees had no union representation often did not enforce these legal provisions.

The State Inspectorate on Ecological and Technical Safety (Inspectorate) is responsible for protecting workers and carrying out inspections for all types of labor problems. The government did not effectively enforce the law because it did not conduct labor inspections following a moratorium on all state inspections. Even prior to the moratorium, the Inspectorate limited labor inspectors’ activities and did not employ enough inspectors to enforce compliance. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the inspectorate also lacked sufficient funding to carry out inspections.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health standards were appropriate for the main industries in the country but the government generally did not enforce them. It is not clear that responsibility for identifying unsafe situations remains with occupational safety and health experts and not the worker. Factory operators often employed workers in poor safety and health conditions. The government did not effectively enforce occupational safety and health laws. Penalties for violations of the law, which range from community service to fines, were commensurate with those for crimes like negligence. The law does not provide workers the right to remove themselves from a hazardous workplace without jeopardizing their employment.

Informal Sector: The law does not provide for occupational health and safety standards for workers in the informal economy. The National Statistics Committee defined informal economic activity as household units that produce goods and services primarily to provide jobs and income to their members. In 2020 an estimated 30 percent of the population worked in the formal sector of the economy, while the rest worked in the informal economy. Government licensing rules placed strict requirements on companies recruiting citizens to work abroad, and the Department of External Migration under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs licensed such companies. The government regularly published a list of licensed and vetted firms. Recruiters were required to monitor employer compliance with employment terms and the working conditions of labor migrants while under contract abroad. Recruiters were also required to provide workers with their employment contract prior to their departure.

Laos

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: In 2018 the government raised the monthly minimum wage for all private-sector workers; it was above the estimated national poverty line but has not since been raised. Some piecework employees, especially on construction sites, earned less than the minimum wage.

The law provides for a workweek limited to 48 hours (36 hours for employment in dangerous activities). Overtime may not exceed 45 hours per month, and each period of overtime may not exceed three hours. Employers may apply to the government for an exception, which the law stipulates workers or their representatives must also approve.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for the enforcement of wage and hour laws. The law does not specify penalties for noncompliance with minimum wage and overtime provisions, but it states they could include warnings, fines, “re-education,” or suspension of a business license. The laws were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud. Wage and working hours laws were not effectively enforced.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational health and safety standards existed, but inspections were inconsistent. The law provides for safe working conditions and higher compensation for dangerous work, but it does not explicitly protect the right of workers to remove themselves from a hazardous situation. In case of injury or death on the job, employers are responsible for compensating the worker or the worker’s family. The law requires employers to report accidents causing major injury to or death of an employee or requiring an employee to take a minimum of four days off work to the Labor Administration Agency. The law also mandates extensive employer responsibility for workers with disabilities who become so while at work. The law does not specify differentiated penalties for noncompliance with specific occupational safety and health provisions, but it states that workplaces could face warnings, fines, “re-education,” or suspension of business licenses.

In May two migrant workers at a Chinese banana plantation in Bolikhamxay Province, ages 18 and 30, reportedly died due to exposure to toxic chemicals used on the plantation. Several workers at banana plantations throughout the country reported that many other workers had fallen ill or died due to chemical exposure; however, local media reported authorities often claimed the victims died of natural causes.

The law prohibits the employment of pregnant women and new mothers in occupations deemed hazardous to women’s reproductive health. The law requires the transfer of women working in such jobs to less demanding positions, without a wage or salary reduction.

The government did not always effectively enforce the law.

The Department of Labor Management within the Ministry of Labor is responsible for workplace inspections. The number of inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions but did not do so due to COVID-19 workplace lockdowns.

Informal Sector: According to NGOs, the establishment of large-scale, foreign-financed agricultural plantations led to displacement of local farmers. Unable to continue traditional practices of subsistence agriculture, many farmers sought employment as day laborers through local brokers, many of whom operated informally and thus left workers vulnerable to exploitation. The International Labor Organization estimated that more than 93 percent of workers in the country were employed in the informal economy, mostly in plantation agriculture, construction, mining, and hospitality work.

There were undocumented migrant workers in the country, particularly from Vietnam and Burma, who were vulnerable to exploitation by employers in the logging, mining, and agricultural sectors. Migrants from China and Vietnam also worked in construction, plantations, casinos, and informal service industries, all sectors where wage and occupational safety and health violations were common. In late October the Ministry of Labor told local media that authorities had been “unable to collect accurate data” on the make-up and well-being of the labor force in the Golden Triangle, but that it was working with Bokeo Province officials to address unlawful labor practices.

Latvia

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law sets a monthly minimum wage that was above the official poverty line. The government enforced its wage laws effectively.

The law provides for a maximum workweek of 40 hours. The maximum permitted overtime work may not exceed eight hours on average within a seven-day period, which is calculated over a four-month reference period. The law requires a minimum of 100 percent premium pay in compensation for overtime, unless the parties agree to other forms of compensation in a contract; however, this was rarely enforced. Penalties were commensurate with those for other analogous crimes and sufficient to deter violations. The State Labor Inspectorate is responsible for enforcement of wage and hour laws. The number of labor inspectors was sufficient to enforce compliance, and the inspectorate has the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions.

Workers in low-skilled manufacturing and retail jobs as well as some public-sector employees, such as firefighters and police, were reportedly most vulnerable to poor working conditions, including long work hours, lack of overtime pay, and arbitrary remuneration.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law establishes minimum occupational health and safety standards for the workplace that were current and appropriate for the main industries. While the law allows workers to remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardizing their employment, these regulations were not always followed. Workers were able to complain to the State Labor Inspectorate when they believed their rights were violated. Penalties were commensurate with those for other analogous crimes and sufficient to deter violations.

The State Labor Inspectorate is responsible for enforcing minimum wage regulations, restrictions on hours of work, and occupational health and safety standards. These standards were not always enforced in the informal economy. Penalties for violations are fines that vary widely, depending on the severity and frequency of the violation, but were generally sufficient to deter violations. The inspectorate had adequate resources to inspect and remediate labor standards problems, effectively enforce labor laws, and occupational safety and health standards. Through September the State Labor Inspectorate reported 18 workplace fatalities. The inspectorate also reported 139 serious workplace injuries. The State Labor Inspectorate reported that 66 injuries and four deaths occurred as a result of industrial accidents. Workplace injuries and fatalities were primarily in the construction, wood-processing, and lumber industries.

Informal Sector: Real wage estimates were difficult to calculate in the sizeable informal economy, which according to some estimates accounted for 25 percent of GDP. Most workers in the informal sector were officially registered and received an official wage (with all taxes paid and eligibility for all benefits). These individuals also receive some tax-free money in cash. In this case, they are covered by wage, hour, and occupational safety and health (OSH) laws and inspections.

Some persons who were employed illegally without any papers, paid no taxes, and received their wages in cash, did not have wage, hour, and OSH protection but did have access to social protection provided by the Ministry of Welfare, such as unemployment benefits, as well as to various social assistance programs provided by municipalities. The State Labor Inspectorate conducted inspections to find these cases and punish employers for illegal employment.

Lebanon

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The legal minimum wage was last raised in 2012. In July 2020 then minister of labor Lamia Yammine requested an increase in the minimum wage to balance purchasing power and inflation, but no further action was taken. As a result of the increase in fuel prices, public and private sector employees’ daily transportation allowances were raised during the year. Public sector employees also received a one-time social assistance payment worth one month’s salary. There was no official minimum wage for domestic workers. Observers concluded that the minimum wage was lower than unofficial estimates of the poverty income level. Official contracts stipulated monthly wages for domestic workers, depending on the nationality of the worker. A unified standard contract which was registered with the DGS for workers to obtain residency granted migrant domestic workers some labor protections. The standard contract covered uniform terms and conditions of employment, but not wages for domestic workers, depending on the nationality of the worker. The law prescribes a standard 48-hour workweek with a weekly rest period that must not be less than 36 consecutive hours. The law stipulates 48 hours of work as the maximum per week in most corporations except agricultural enterprises. The law permits a 12-hour day under certain conditions, including a stipulation that overtime pay is 50 percent higher than pay for normal hours. The law does not set limits on compulsory overtime. Workers may report violations to the CGTL, Ministry of Labor, NSSF, or through their respective unions. In most cases they preferred to remain silent due to fear of dismissal. Violations of wage and overtime pay were most common in the construction industry and among migrant workers, particularly with domestic workers. Generally, penalties for violations were commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud. Domestic workers are not covered by law or other legal provisions related to acceptable conditions of work. Such provisions also do not apply to those involved in work within the context of a family, day laborers, temporary workers in the public sector, or workers in the agricultural sector. In September 2020 the caretaker minister of labor signed a new standard labor contract for all domestic workers, foreign and Lebanese, to apply to all contracts signed after November 1, 2020.

Occupational Safety and Health: The Ministry of Labor sets occupational health and safety standards. Labor experts deemed Lebanon’s occupational safety and health (OSH) standards were inappropriate for the main industries in the country and noted that the government did not regularly enforce them. The country’s OSH standards do not conform with international labor standards, and the few numbers of OSH inspectors make it difficult to enforce the established measures. Some companies did not respect legal provisions governing OSH in specific sectors, such as the construction industry. The responsibility for identifying unsafe situations remains with OSH experts and not the worker based on hazards inherent to the nature of work. Penalties for violations of OSH laws were commensurate with those for similar crimes like negligence; however, in practice, employers easily avoided such penalties. While most licensed businesses and factories strove to meet international standards for working conditions with respect to OSH, conditions in informal factories and businesses were poorly regulated and often did not meet these standards. The Ministry of Industry is responsible for enforcing regulations to improve safety in the workplace. The law requires employers to implement proper safety measures and to have fire, third-party liability, and workers’ compensation insurance. The ministry has the authority to revoke a company’s license if its inspectors find a company noncompliant, but there was no evidence this occurred.

The ministry’s enforcement team handled all inspections of potential labor violations, but it suffered from a lack of staff, resources, legal tools, and political support for its work. Interference with inspectors affected the quality of inspections, and issuance of fines for violators was common. The law stipulates workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, although government officials did not protect employees who exercised this right.

Workers in the industrial sector worked an average of 35 hours per week, while workers in other sectors worked an average of 32 hours per week. These averages, however, were derived from figures that included part-time work, including for employees who desired full-time work. Some private-sector employers failed to provide employees with family and transportation allowances as stipulated under the law and did not register them with the National Social Security Fund.

Informal Sector: Migrant workers arrived in the country through local and source-country recruitment agencies. Although the law requires recruitment agencies to be licensed by the Ministry of Labor, the government did not adequately monitor their activities. The kafala system tied a foreign worker’s employment visa to a specific employer, making it difficult to change employers. In cases of employment termination, the worker would lose legal status. This discouraged many migrant workers from filing complaints. Some employers subjected domestic workers, mostly of Asian and African origin, to mistreatment and abuse, including rape. In many cases domestic workers endured long hours without vacations or holidays. Victims of abuse may file civil suits or seek other legal action, often with the assistance of NGOs, but most victims, counseled by their embassies or consulates, settled for an administrative solution that usually included monetary compensation and repatriation. During the year victims explained that, when they escaped from employers who were withholding wages, an NGO helped them file charges against their employers. Authorities commonly reached administrative settlements with employers to pay back wages or finance return to employees’ home countries, but generally did not seek criminal prosecution of employers.

In June 2020 the director general of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons named Lebanon among countries in which Nigerian citizens were trapped in domestic servitude. The official stated her agency had received more than 50 distress calls and collected evidence regarding cruel working conditions, unpaid salaries, 18-hour workdays, and hazardous duties. Some women were reportedly sold as slaves to third-party buyers.

Authorities typically did not prosecute perpetrators of abuse against domestic workers for reasons that included the victims’ refusal to press charges and lack of evidence. Authorities settled an unknown number of cases of nonpayment of wages through negotiation. According to source-country embassies and consulates, many workers did not report violations of their labor contracts until after they returned to their home countries, since they preferred not to stay in the country for a lengthy judicial process.

Lesotho

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: There is a sector-specific minimum wage and a general minimum wage. The general minimum monthly wage was above the official poverty line. Minimum wage provisions do not cover significant portions of the workforce. Labor laws were not applied to workers in agriculture or other informal sectors.

The law stipulates standards for hours of work, including a maximum 45-hour workweek, a weekly rest period of at least 24 hours, a daily minimum rest period of one hour, at least 12 days of paid leave per year, paid sick leave, and public holidays. Required overtime is legal if overtime wages for work in excess of the standard 45-hour workweek are paid. The maximum overtime allowed is 11 hours per week; however, there are exemptions under special circumstances. The law requires the premium pay for overtime be at a rate not less than 25 percent more than the employee’s normal hourly wage rate; any employer who requires excessive compulsory overtime is liable to a fine, imprisonment, or both.

The government applied wage and hour laws inconsistently. Wage and hour rates were not enforced in the large informal economy. The Ministry of Labor, which has the responsibility to enforce minimum wage and overtime laws, observed the security sector, retail, and construction sectors did not always conform to the minimum wages and hours-of-work regulations. In general, overtime laws were enforced through inspection visits and office mediation.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law empowers the Ministry of Labor to issue regulations on occupational health and safety standards, and the commissioner of labor is responsible for investigating allegations of labor law violations.

The law requires employers to provide adequate light, ventilation, and sanitary facilities for employees and to install and maintain machinery in a manner that minimizes injury. It also requires each employer have a registered health and safety officer. Employers must provide first aid kits, safety equipment, and protective clothing. The law also provides for a compensation system for industrial injuries and diseases related to employment. The law holds employers responsible for orienting their employees on safety standards and for providing adequate protective clothing. Workers may be held responsible for accidents if they fail to use provided protective clothing or fail to comply with safety standards.

The government did not effectively enforce the law on safety and health standards. Labor inspectors worked in all districts and generally conducted unannounced inspections, but the government did not employ enough labor inspectors to enforce compliance. By law the informal sector is not subject to inspection. The Ministry of Labor’s inspectorate reported employers, particularly in the security, transport, and construction sectors, did not always observe the minimum wage and hours-of-work laws. Many locally owned businesses did not keep adequate employee records to facilitate labor inspections as required by law. Smaller employers failed to establish safety committees, did not have complete first aid kits, and did not provide protective clothing. Except for the mining industry, employers’ compliance with health and safety regulations was generally low. According to the ministry, there was extensive noncompliance with health and safety regulations, especially in the manufacturing and construction sectors. Employers exploited the ministry’s lack of labor inspectors and its inability to prosecute violations. Additionally, penalties were not commensurate with those provided for in the labor code for violations.

Trade union representatives described textile-sector working conditions as poor or harsh but not dangerous. They stated failure by small factories to observe the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 pandemic guidelines put the workers at risk of contracting the disease. Unions noted government-constructed factories had poor layout and were designed with improperly installed ventilation. Employers who leased factories from the government were not allowed to change the design of government factory buildings to install ventilation systems. Independent auditors hired by foreign textile buyers conducted spot checks on many exporting factories, customarily sought labor’s input, and briefed the unions on their findings. Unions believed independent auditors kept factory owners compliant with health and safety regulations.

In 2019 a coalition of labor unions and women’s rights organizations, an apparel supplier, and three apparel brands signed agreements to address gender-based violence in garment factories. In response to allegations of sexual harassment, including some claims of supervisors demanding sexual favors, these agreements provided for the establishment of an independent body to receive complaints of gender-based violence and carry out investigations accordingly. Union leaders stated, however, that workers reported cases of violence and harassment, including assault and verbal abuse by employers. In May Time Magazine reported there was prevalence of abuse and gender-based violence at Hippo Knitting Factory. The Ministry of Labor, Hippo Knitting, and the trade unions signed a memorandum of understanding to eradicate gender-based violence and harassment in the factory. A local consultancy firm, Rise Africa, was contracted to monitor and assist in agreement implementation. Rise Africa successfully implemented a gender-based violence program at Nien Hsing Textiles.

Many workplace policies covered employees with HIV/AIDS. Some of the larger factories provided health-care services at the workplace. Where factories did not provide health care, workers had the right to access services at public health centers. Employers provided space for employee examinations and time off for employees to see doctors, receive counseling, and participate in educational and antistigma programs.

On August 19, the Ministry of Health launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign for the textile factory workers. There were reports that the Ever Unison Textile Factory forced workers to receive COVID-19 vaccination shots to ensure safety at the workplace and to stabilize production. The National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union intervened, and the factory stopped the forced vaccination of workers.

The Ministry of Labor prepares an annual report on workplace fatalities and accidents. According to the report, from January through August, there were 124 accidents, of which 25 persons died and 99 individuals (76 men and 23 women) sustained serious injuries. The affected sectors included the textile, manufacturing, security, retail, and construction sectors.

Working conditions for foreign or migrant workers were the same as those of residents, and migrants had equal protection under the law in the formal sector.

The law does not explicitly provide for workers to remove themselves from situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. Workers have the right to report incidents that put their lives in danger to their safety officers of safety committees. In most cases workers reported being pressured not to report violations. Nevertheless, code provisions on safety in the workplace and dismissal imply such a dismissal would be illegal. Authorities protected employees when violations of the law were reported.

Informal Sector: The Ministry of Labor has minimal jurisdiction over the informal economy, where an estimated one-half of the country’s workers were employed. Penalties were commensurate with those for similar violations, but they were not applied. Violations of wage, hour and safety regulations were common. Conditions were especially hazardous in the construction, agriculture, domestic work, and mining sectors.

Liberia

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law establishes minimum wages for unskilled laborers and for formal-sector workers. The law also allows workers in the informal sector to bargain for a wage higher than the legal minimum.

The minimum wage was greater than the World Bank’s poverty income level. Many families paid minimum-wage incomes were also engaged in subsistence farming, artisanal mining, small-scale marketing, street peddling, and begging.

The law provides for a 48-hour, six-day regular workweek with a one-hour rest period for every five hours of work. The law stipulates that ordinary hours may be extended by collective agreement up to an average of 53 hours during an agreed period, as well as to 56 hours for workers in seasonal industries. The law provides for overtime pay and prohibits excessive compulsory overtime. The law provides for at least one week of paid leave per year and for severance benefits.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational health and safety standards were up to date and appropriate for the intended industries. Workers could not remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardizing their employment, and authorities did not effectively protect employees in this situation. For certain categories of industries, the law requires employers to employ safety and health officers and establish a safety and health committee in the workplace.

The government did not effectively enforce the law in all sectors. The Ministry of Labor’s Labor Inspection Department is responsible for enforcing government-established wage, hour, and health and safety standards in the formal sector, but there is no system for monitoring and enforcement in the informal sector. The government did not employ a sufficient number of labor inspectors to enforce compliance. Penalties for violations were not commensurate with those for similar crimes. Observers reported labor inspectors solicited and took bribes to certify compliance with regulations, and the labor inspectorate did not track numbers of individual inspections or violations.

The country did not keep records of industrial accidents, but evidence pointed to mining, construction, forestry, fishing, and agriculture as the most dangerous sectors. Hazardous occupations were especially dangerous in the informal sector, such as illegal fishing, logging, and mining, where the lack of regulation and remediation contributed to fatalities and obscured accountability.

On August 18, at least seven persons were injured at the Sethi Ferro Fabrik Incorporated modern steel manufacturing company in Gardnersville following an explosion at the facility. According to eyewitnesses, the explosion occurred following a surge to an electric induction arc furnace that was being used to melt steel by one of the workers at the facility. The Environmental Protection Agency and Liberia National Police arrived on the scene to assess and investigate the cause of the explosion and its effect on the environment.

On August 21, Emmanuel Joe, an employee of the Liberia Agriculture Company in Wee Statutory District, Grand Bassa County, was killed by a rubber processing machine when a breaker was reportedly turned on by another worker while the victim was cleaning it.

Informal Sector: Most citizens were unable to find work in the formal sector and therefore did not benefit from any of the formal labor laws and protections. Most citizens (estimated at 80 percent) worked in the largely unregulated informal sector, where they faced widely varying and often harsh working conditions. Informal-sector workers included rock crushers, artisanal miners, agricultural workers, street sellers, most market sellers, domestic workers, and others. In the diamond and gold mines, in addition to physical danger and poor working conditions, the industry is unregulated, leaving miners vulnerable to exploitive brokers, dealers, and intermediaries. Illegal mining of gold was rampant throughout the country and posed serious safety risks, resulting in the deaths of several persons every year.

West Bank and Gaza

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The PA’s monthly minimum wage was below the poverty line. On August 23, the PA cabinet approved raising the Palestinian national wage by approximately 30 percent in 2022, although some observers questioned the government’s ability to enforce this policy, especially in Gaza. The PCBS estimated 30 percent of residents in the West Bank and 64 percent of residents in Gaza lived below the poverty line. The average monthly wage in Gaza is significantly lower than the PA’s monthly minimum wage, according to the PCBS.

According to PA law, the maximum official Sunday-to-Thursday workweek is 48 hours. The law also allows for paid official and religious holidays, which employers may not deduct from annual leave. Workers must be paid time and a half for each hour worked beyond 45 hours per week and may not perform more than 12 hours of overtime work per week. The government did not effectively enforce the law on wages and hours of work. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health standards were not appropriate for the main industries in the country, which included construction, mining, quarrying, manufacturing, and agriculture. The PA Ministry of Labor was responsible for setting appropriate occupational health and safety standards. Responsibility for identifying unsafe work conditions lies with inspectors and not the worker. Palestinian workers do not have the legal protection to remove themselves from situations that endangered their health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. Mechanisms for lodging complaints were generally not utilized due to fear of retribution, according to NGOs.

The government did not effectively enforce the law on occupational safety and health standards. Penalties for violations of occupational, safety, and health laws were not commensurate with those for crimes such as negligence. Labor inspectors could conduct unannounced visits and initiate legal action but did not have the authority to levy fines. In 2020 the Ministry of Labor’s Inspection Department did not conduct regular visits due to COVID-19. The PA did not effectively monitor smaller worksites or those in the informal sector, which were at times below legal safety standards. The ministry does not have authority to enforce Palestinian labor law west of Israel’s barrier or in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Informal Sector: Israeli authorities did not conduct labor inspections in Israeli settlements, where Palestinian workers constituted a significant part of the workforce. The lack of a competent labor authority in the settlements increased workers’ vulnerability to exploitation. NGOs such as Kav LaOved stated that exploitative practices in Israeli settlements were widespread. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that one-half of all such workers with permits continued to pay exorbitant monthly fees to brokers to obtain and maintain valid work permits. Approximately 146,000 Palestinians worked in Israel and Israeli settlements as of the third quarter of the year, mostly in construction and agriculture. These workers were more vulnerable to exploitation and were not eligible for worker benefits, such as paid annual and sick leave. Kav LaOved brought cases to Israeli labor courts on behalf of Palestinian workers employed by enterprises in Israel and West Bank settlements. Many of the cases related to nonpayment or misreporting of wages, inadequate medical care following workplace injury, and the settlement of subsequent health insurance claims within the Israeli system.

According to the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics, as of the third-quarter Labor Force Survey, 28 percent of wage employees received less than the minimum wage. In the West Bank approximately seven percent of wage employees in the private sector received less than the minimum monthly wage. In Gaza, 83 percent of wage employees in the private sector received less than the minimum monthly wage. Palestinians working in Israeli settlements reported they continued to receive wages lower than the Israeli minimum wage, despite a 2008 High Court ruling that Israeli labor laws apply to relations between Palestinian workers and Israeli employers in settlements.

Respect for occupational safety and health standards was poor. There continued to be workplace fatalities of Palestinian laborers. According to an ILO report during the year about Palestinian workers, there were 23 fatalities of Palestinian workers in Israel in 2020, 10 of those in construction. Kav LaOved documented dozens of cases where employers instructed employees to return to the West Bank following workplace injury rather than provide for medical attention inside Israel.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future