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Azerbaijan

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The national minimum wage was higher than the poverty income level (minimum living standard). Experts stated government employers complied with the minimum wage law in the formal sector. The law requires equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, age, or other classification, although women’s pay lagged behind that of men.

The law provides for a 40-hour workweek. Workers in hazardous occupations may not work more than 36 hours per week. Information was not available on whether local companies provided the legally required premium compensation for overtime, although international companies generally did. There is no prohibition on excessive compulsory overtime. The law provides equal rights to foreign and domestic workers.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection is responsible for enforcing wage and hour laws. The number of inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance, and inspectors did not have the authority to make unannounced inspections. Inspectors could initiate sanctions in limited circumstances. During the year the government extended its moratorium on scheduled and unannounced labor inspections through 2022. Although inspectors were permitted to request information from employers and relevant employees in order to investigate complaints, complaint response did not include worksite inspections. The ministry identified 1,508 violations of labor law.

The government did not effectively enforce the laws on acceptable conditions of work, and penalties were not commensurate with those for similar crimes.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health standards are appropriate for the main industries, although employers were known to ignore them. Failure to provide acceptable conditions of work in the construction and oil and gas sectors remained a problem. A local NGO reported that oil workers were forced to work lengthy shifts at sea because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Inspection of working conditions by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection’s labor inspectorate was weak and ineffective due to the moratorium. Workers cannot remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. Local human rights groups, including the Oil Workers Rights Defense Organization, an NGO dedicated to protecting worker rights in the petroleum sector, maintained that employers, particularly foreign oil companies, did not always treat foreign and domestic workers equally. Domestic employees of foreign oil companies reportedly often received lower pay and worked without contracts or private health-care insurance. Some domestic employees of foreign oil companies reported violations of labor law, noting they were unable to receive overtime payments or vacations.

The government did not effectively enforce occupational safety and health laws, largely due to the extended moratorium on worksite inspections. Penalties for violations were not commensurate with those for similar crimes. According to official statistics, 51 workers died on the job during the year, none from the oil and gas sector.

Informal Sector: According to most estimates, the informal sector accounted for 30 to 40 percent of the economy, especially in the service and construction sectors. Informal workers are covered by wage, hour, and OSH laws and inspections, although these laws were commonly ignored.

Bahamas

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The minimum wage was above the established poverty income level.

The law provides for a 40-hour workweek, a 24-hour rest period, and time-and-a-half payment for hours worked beyond the standard workweek. The law stipulates paid annual holidays and prohibits compulsory overtime. The law does not place a limit on overtime.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government set health and safety standards appropriate to the main industries. According to the Ministry of Labour, the law protects all workers, including migrant workers, with respect to wages, working hours, working conditions, and occupational health and safety standards. Workers cannot remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardizing their employment.

The Ministry of Labour is responsible for enforcing labor laws, including minimum wage, work hours, safety, health, and child labor. The ministry enforced the law inconsistently, especially in the informal sector. Ministry inspectors conducted random site visits to enforce occupational health and safety standards and to investigate employee concerns and complaints. Inspections occurred infrequently. Penalties for violations of occupational health and safety laws were commensurate with those for crimes such as negligence.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Labour conducted additional workplace inspections to enforce compliance with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 workplace guidelines. Inspectors have the right to conduct unannounced visits and levy fines, but the ministry sometimes announced inspection visits in advance. Employers generally cooperated with inspectors to implement safety standards. Some employees who worked in the construction, agriculture, hospitality, engineering, and informal sectors endured hazardous conditions. In addition officials at the main prison complex complained of a lack of hazard pay for working close to inmates with communicable diseases, including HIV, AIDS, and COVID-19.

Informal Sector: The law protects all workers and calls for decent work standards for all, even outside legal employment structures. Where informal work contravened labor laws, the government effectively enforced the law. The informal sector accounted for an estimated 25 percent of the country’s GDP. The primary job sector in the informal segment consisted of home-based workers, such as hair braiders, clothing vendors, domestic workers, beauticians, tailors, and seamstresses. Persons in the informal sector were typically not employed, were self-employed, or worked more than one job. Many irregular migrants worked in landscaping and agriculture.

Bahrain

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: There is no national private sector minimum wage law. A standardized government pay scale covers public sector workers, with a set minimum monthly wage. While the minimum wage for citizens is generally considered a living wage, there is no minimum wage for foreign workers in the public sector; however, the government issued “guidelines” advising employers in the public and private sectors to pay a minimum monthly wage. There was no official poverty level.

Subject to the provisions of the private-sector law, employers may not employ a worker for more than 48 hours per week without including contract provisions for overtime pay. Employers may not employ Muslim workers during the month of Ramadan for more than six hours per day or 36 hours per week. Penalties for violations were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud.

On May 1, the government launched the Wage Protection System (WPS) for employees working in the private sector. The government implemented WPS in phases, which required wages be paid through licensed commercial banks, based on the number of workers employed by businesses. According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, WPS secures workers’ rights, combats trafficking in persons, protects employers’ rights by documenting money transfers, and provides documentation to settle labor disputes. The ministry stated it would penalize employers who fail to pay monthly salaries on time and per contractual obligations.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health (OSH) standards were not appropriate for the main industries in the country; the government did not effectively enforce existing OSH standards. Workers risked jeopardizing their employment for refusal to work in hazardous conditions or if they took legal action against employers who retaliated against them for exercising their right to remove themselves from such conditions.

The Ministry of Labor sets occupational safety and health standards. The labor law and relevant protections apply to citizens and noncitizens alike, with the exception of domestic workers. The law stipulates that companies in violation of occupational safety standards may be subject to fines. Penalties for violations of occupational, safety, and health laws were not commensurate with those for similar crimes such as negligence.

The Ministry of Labor employed general inspectors and occupational safety inspectors. Their roles are to inspect workplaces, occupational health and safety conditions, and the employer/employee work relationship. The ministry used a team of engineers from multiple specialties primarily to investigate risks and standards at construction sites, which were the vast majority of worksites. Inspectors have the authority to levy fines and close worksites if employers do not improve conditions by specified deadlines. A judge determines fines per violation, per worker affected, or both. A judge may also sentence violators to prison. For repeat violators, the court may double the penalties. NGOs expressed concern that resources for enforcement of the laws would be inadequate for the number of worksites and workers, that worksites would not be inspected, and that violations would continue despite the new regulations.

A ministerial decree prohibits outdoor work between noon and 4 p.m. during July and August because of heat conditions. Authorities enforced the ban with regard to large firms, but according to local observers, violations by smaller businesses were common and without consequences. Employers who violate the ban are subject to up to three months’ imprisonment, fines, or both, but enforcement was inconsistent. The ministry documented 27 companies that violated the summer heat ban during the year.

On February 25, a criminal court sentenced an official found guilty of causing the death of construction workers at a sewage treatment plant to three years in prison and a fine.

The government and courts generally worked to rectify labor abuses brought to their attention. The government published pamphlets on foreign workers’ rights in several languages and provided manuals on these rights to local diplomatic missions. Workers could file complaints with the government via email, in person, or through government hotlines. The Ministry of Interior reported it received 450 calls to its hotline since its establishment in July. There were 6,769 combined and individual labor-related complaints during the year, including complaints filed by domestic workers. The vast majority of cases involving abused domestic workers, however, did not reach the ministry or the public prosecutor. The government provided victims with a range of services, including shelter, food, clothing, medical and psychological care, legal counsel, and grants from the Victim Assistance Fund. The National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Persons provided shelter and services to victims and potential victims on a case-by-case basis.

Local organizations reported that they visited unregistered camps and accommodations, including accommodations of irregular “free visa” workers, who they observed often lived in overcrowded apartments with poor safety standards.

Informal Sector: Violations of wage, overtime, and occupational safety and health standards were common in sectors employing informal foreign workers, such as construction, automotive repair, and domestic service. Unskilled foreign workers, mostly from South and Southeast Asia, constituted approximately 60 percent of the total workforce, and many were employed informally. These workers were vulnerable to dangerous or exploitive working conditions. According to NGOs workplace safety inspection and compliance were substandard.

The labor law does not fully protect domestic workers, and this group was particularly vulnerable to exploitation due to the difficulties of oversight and access to private residences. Additionally, NGOs report employers and recruitment agencies provided employees contracts with differing terms in different languages.

The Ministries of Labor and Interior acknowledge severe underreporting of abuse and labor exploitation. NGOs and activists provided credible reports that employers forced many of the country’s 86,000 domestic workers, most of them women, to work 12- to 16-hour days, and illegally seized their passports and cell phones. Some domestic workers reported that their employers permitted very little time off, left female workers malnourished, and subjected them to verbal and physical abuse, including sexual molestation and rape. The press, embassies, and police received numerous reports of abuse of domestic workers. As a response the National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Persons provided workers with shelter. Most women in these cases sought assistance with unpaid wages and complaints of physical abuse.

On October 11, the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs reported that 91 distressed Filipino workers had been repatriated, including minors, pardoned prisoners, individuals without residency status, pregnant women, medical patients, and others who had sought refuge in the Philippines Embassy.

The Flexi Permit, a renewable one- or two-year permit that allows foreign workers to remain in the country and work without a sponsor, authorizes previously out-of-status workers to legalize their residency; the government issues these permits as an alternative to the kafala work sponsorship system. In December an NGO noted that its high cost precludes many from enrolling in the program.

According to NGOs the construction sector employed more Indians, Bangladeshis, and Pakistanis than other nationalities. Worker deaths generally were due to a combination of inadequate enforcement of standards, violations of standards, inadequate safety procedures, worker ignorance of safety procedures, and inadequate safety standards for equipment. The level of freedom foreign workers enjoyed directly related to the type of work they performed.

A Ministry of Labor order requires employers to register any living accommodations provided to employees. The order also mandates minimum housing standards for employer-provided accommodations. Of the 14,000 labor accommodations, 62 percent of them were in unauthorized areas. Many migrant workers lived in unregistered accommodations that included makeshift housing in parking garages, apartments rented by employers from private owners, family houses modified to accommodate many persons, and single beds for rent. Conditions in the many unregistered or irregular worker camps were often squalid and overcrowded. Inspectors do not have the right to enter houses or apartment buildings not registered as work camps to inspect conditions.

Bangladesh

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Barbados

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: There is a minimum wage for housekeepers and shop assistants. There is no official poverty income level. The standard legal workweek is 40 hours in five days. The law provides employees with three weeks of paid holiday annually for persons with less than five years of service and four weeks of paid holiday annually after five years of service. The law requires overtime payment of time and a half for hours worked more than the legal standard and prescribes that all overtime must be voluntary. The law does not set a maximum number of overtime hours.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government set occupational safety and health standards that were current and appropriate for its industries.

The Ministry of Labor was responsible for minimum wage, work hour, and health and safety standards. According to a union official, the government does not have sufficient inspectors to enforce compliance as effectively as they should. The ministry used routine inspections, accident investigations, and union membership surveys to monitor and prevent labor violations, and to verify that wages and working conditions met national standards. Penalties include small fines, imprisonment for up to three months, or both. These penalties were inadequate to ensure compliance. Penalties for occupational safety and health violations are higher than penalties for analogous violations, such as negligence.

Trade unions monitored safety problems to verify the enforcement of safety and health regulations, as well as the correction of problems by management. Labor inspectors are required during an inspection to notify employers of their presence, except where the inspectors consider that such a notification would impinge on the performance of their duties. The law gives inspectors the power to initiate proceedings against employers for any violation or offense.

The law provides for the right of workers to refuse dangerous work without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities generally protected employees in this situation. A labor union representative reported there were no formal complaints concerning hazardous or exploitative working conditions during the year nor did the union receive any complaints about workplace fatalities or accidents.

Informal Sector: An Inter-American Development Bank study estimated the informal economy in the country at approximately 33 percent of total economic activity. The informal economy was not subject to government labor or safety regulations. Informal workers may apply for public assistance or public housing but are not guaranteed any benefits.

Belarus

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: As of October 1, the national minimum monthly wage exceeded the poverty line.

The law establishes a standard workweek of 40 hours and provides for at least one 24-hour rest period per week. The law provides for mandatory overtime and nine days of holiday pay and restricts overtime to 10 hours a week, with a maximum of 180 hours of overtime each year.

The State Labor Inspection Department at the Labor and Social Welfare Ministry was responsible for the enforcement of wage and overtime laws. Authorities effectively enforced minimum wage and overtime laws, and penalties for violations were commensurate with those for other similar crimes. In June 2020 Labor and Social Protection Minister Iryna Kastevich noted that the ministry was monitoring companies and organizations for compliance with employee dismissal regulations during COVID-19. Kastevich reported the volume of total working hours fell following the start of the pandemic, as employers attempted to keep workers employed by shortening working hours or placing persons on leave. Government COVID-19 support reportedly largely went to state enterprises, which received financial support such as loans, rather than to workers or the private sector.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law establishes minimum conditions for workplace safety and worker health, but employers did not always follow the standards or require workers to wear minimal safety gear.

The State Labor Inspection Department at the Labor and Social Welfare Ministry is responsible for workplace safety and worker health. The state labor inspectorate lacked authority to enforce employer compliance and often ignored violations. Although inspectors could make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions, the number of inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance.

The law provides workers the right to remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardizing their employment. According to the State Labor Inspection Department of the Labor and Social Welfare Ministry, employees have the right to refuse to perform work if they are not provided with personal protective equipment that directly ensures labor safety. The list of required personal protective equipment was approved by the ministry. In order to refuse to perform assigned work due to a lack of equipment, an employee must inform the employer or an authorized official of the reasons for refusal in writing.

According to the most recent data available, authorities reported 2,042 workplace injuries and 141 deaths in 2019, compared with 2,115 injuries and 144 deaths in 2018.

The same inspectors who have authority over wage and working hour laws are also responsible for enforcing occupational safety and health laws. The State Labor Inspection Department maintained labor hotlines for each region and also provided separate contact details for matters associated with labor inspections, labor protection, and labor violations. The department also maintained a hotline for problems involving the illegal dismissal of workers. The government did not effectively enforce occupational safety and health laws. Penalties for violations were not commensurate with those for other similar crimes.

Informal Sector: Independent experts reported the informal economy constituted up to 30 percent of the total economy, which had a workforce of 4.3 million persons. Labor law does not cover informal workers.

Belgium

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wages and Hour Laws: There is a monthly national minimum wage, and it is higher than the official poverty income level.

The standard workweek is 38 hours, and workers are entitled to four weeks of annual leave. Departure from these norms can occur under a collective bargaining agreement, but work may not exceed 11 hours per day or 50 hours per week. A rest period of at least 11 hours is required between work periods. Overtime is paid at a time-and-a-half premium on Monday through Saturday and double time on Sundays. The law forbids or limits excessive overtime. Without specific authorization, an employee may not work more than 65 hours of overtime during any one quarter. The Employment and Labor Relations Federal Public Service generally enforced wage and hour regulations effectively.

On September 24, some unions led a protest of several thousand workers over the “1996 law,” which prevents wages from rising faster than in neighboring countries.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health standards were appropriate for the main industries. Inspectors from both the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Social Security enforced labor regulations. These ministries jointly worked to ensure that standards were effectively enforced in all sectors and that wages and working conditions were consistent with collective bargaining agreements. Inspectors have the authority to conduct unannounced visits and levy sanctions. Workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. The primary responsibility for identifying unsafe situations remains with inspectors and not with the worker. The Employment and Labor Relations Federal Public Service protected employees in this situation. Wage, overtime, and occupational safety violations were most common in the restaurant, construction, and logistics industries. Some employers still operated below legal standards.

On September 29, a man died at the AccelorMittal factory in Ghent while work was being carried out on a conveyor belt. According to media reports, a roller broke off the conveyor belt and hit the victim in the head. AccelorMittal reported leading an investigation into the circumstances of the accident. Media also reported that the labor inspection services were onsite and could designate a technical expert to lead an independent investigation if deemed necessary.

Civil society organizations, such as advocacy groups and media outlets, raised concerns about the effectiveness of the government’s efforts to ensure worker safety during the COVID-19 crisis. According to Amnesty International, the government failed to preserve individuals’ right to health, life, and nondiscrimination due to several factors, including but not limited to the insufficient provision of personal protective equipment for care workers. In addition, there were serious concerns about migrant workers’ safety and well-being. Nearly 150,000 undocumented migrant workers who had lived in the country for years, if not decades, lacked access to social safety net programs and routinely worked long hours for little pay in the informal economy. The lack of access to social safety net programs was particularly problematic, since many migrant workers lost their jobs and struggled to find other employment opportunities due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Informal Sector: Workers in the informal economy are covered by the same wage, hours, and safety regulations as workers in the formal economy, but regulations were not consistently enforced. As of 2017, informal labor was estimated to make up approximately 3.6 percent of the country’s GDP and often consisted of undocumented migrants and students. A specialized governmental department, the Information and Social Research Service, created to oversee the informal economy, conducted more than 10,000 inspections in 2020 and initiated investigations, mainly in the construction, restaurant and hotel, and cleaning sectors. Infringements of workers’ rights were found in 42 percent of inspections; of those, 41 percent were in the construction sector, 55 percent in bars and restaurants, and 64 percent in carwash businesses. Authorities may fine employers for poor working conditions but may also treat such cases as trafficking in persons.

Belize

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The national minimum wage was above the poverty-limit income level. The law sets the workweek at no more than six days or 45 hours and requires premium payment for overtime work. Workers are entitled to two workweeks of paid annual holiday. Additionally, there are 13 days designated as public and bank holidays. Employees who work on public and bank holidays are entitled to pay at time-and-a-half, except for Good Friday and Christmas, which are paid at twice the normal rate. In June the government implemented fiscal austerity measures that shortened the workweek for government employees by 10 percent along with reducing their pay by 10 percent. While employees in the private sector also received salary cuts, reportedly their working hours remained the same.

Occupational Safety and Health: Health and safety regulations for all industries provide that the employer must take “reasonable care” for the safety of employees. The regulations further provide that every employer who provides or arranges accommodation for workers to reside at or near a place of employment shall provide and maintain sufficient and hygienic housing accommodations, a sufficient supply of wholesome water, and sufficient and proper sanitary arrangements.

The Ministry of Labor did not consistently enforce minimum wage, hour, and health and safety regulations. Inspectors could make unannounced visits and initiate penalties, but the number of inspectors was not sufficient to secure compliance, especially in the more remote areas. Fines varied according to the infraction but generally were not commensurate with those for similar crimes. Inspections were curtailed during the year because of COVID-19 mitigation measures but were slowly reinstated at the end of the year as health measures were lifted.

The minimum wage was generally respected. Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence from NGOs and employers suggested that undocumented Central American workers, particularly young service workers and agricultural laborers, were regularly paid below the minimum wage.

Workers have the right to remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. As of October, no major accidents caused death or serious injury.

Informal Sector: The International Monetary Fund in 2015 estimated the informal economy generated 47 percent of GDP. In September the Statistical Institute of Belize estimated there were 72,433 persons in informal employment, approximately 42 percent of the total employed population.

Most labor violations pertaining to acceptable conditions of work occurred in the informal sector, but authorities were not able to properly monitor and carry out inspections. Workers in the informal economy were not afforded social protection by government entities. The country does not have a specific occupational safety and health law, but the Factories Act and the Labour Act contain provisions in relation to occupation, safety, and health in the workplace.

Benin

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hours Laws: The government set minimum wage scales for several occupations in the formal sector that were slightly higher than the poverty level. The minimum wage was 40,000 CFA francs ($72) per month and had not been amended since 2016. According to the UN Development Program, 60 percent of the population, predominantly in the informal sector, lives on an income of $1.90 a day or less, a poverty-level income that is less than the minimum wage.

The labor code sets workweek hours at 40 to 60 hours, depending on the type of work, and provides for paid holidays and at least one 24-hour rest period per week. The labor code also mandates premium pay for overtime and prohibits excessive compulsory overtime.

The Ministry of Labor and Civil Service and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microcredit were responsible for enforcement of the minimum wage and hours of work standards. Authorities generally enforced legal limits on workweeks in the formal sector but did not effectively monitor or enforce these standards in the large informal sector. Domestic and agricultural workers frequently worked 70 hours or more per week, above the maximum of 12 hours per day or 60 hours per week provided for by the labor code. Significant parts of the workforce and foreign migrant workers working in the informal sector did not benefit from minimum wage scales.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law establishes appropriate occupational safety and health standards (OSH). Provisions of the law related to acceptable conditions of work apply to all formal-sector workers including migrants. Penalties for violating the labor code were commensurate with those for similar violations.

The Ministry of Labor and Civil Service and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microcredit were responsible for enforcement of OSH standards. The ministries did not effectively enforce these standards, especially in the large informal sector. The government has the authority to require employers to remedy dangerous work conditions but did not effectively do so. Significant parts of the workforce and foreign migrant workers working in the informal sector did not benefit from minimum wage scales. Government efforts were impeded by the insufficient number of labor inspectors and lack of resources to implement inspections. Random inspections were conducted in some sectors, but no information was available on the number of violations identified or convictions of persons tried for violations. The law does not provide workers with the right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued employment.

Violations of OSH standards mostly occurred in informal-sector trades, including hairdressing, dressmaking, baking, mechanics, and carpentry, where workers faced biological, chemical, physical, and psychological risks. Children involved in these trades as apprentices worked long hours and were more vulnerable to hazardous working conditions. In some mechanical and carpentry shops, children worked near dangerous tools and equipment, and some adults and children lacked adequate protective gear. No data on workplace fatalities and accidents were available.

Informal Sector: According to various sources, informal workers accounted for more than 90 percent of workers in the country. Informal workers faced numerous challenges and vulnerabilities, including long working hours, wages below the poverty level, and no social security coverage. They often endured substandard working conditions and were exposed to occupational risks in agriculture, construction, and mining.

Bhutan

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The national minimum wage is above the official poverty income level. According to the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources, there are two wage rates in the country: the national minimum wage rate and the national workforce wage rate. The national minimum wage rate applies to anyone working in the country, irrespective of nationality. The national workforce wage rate is higher but applies only to citizens.

The law defines the workday as eight hours per day with a one-hour lunch break, and employers are required to grant regular rest days, including a minimum of nine public holidays each year. Work of more hours than the legal workday is mandated to be paid at 1.5 times the normal rate.

Occupational Safety and Health: Government occupational safety and health standards are current and appropriate. Inspectors have the right to conduct unannounced inspections and are responsible for identifying unsafe conditions. Labor regulations grant workers the right to leave work situations that endanger their health and safety without jeopardy to their employment.

The Department of Labor generally enforced minimum wage, work hours, and occupational health and safety standards effectively in the formal sector. Penalties, including payment of damages, were generally commensurate with other types of workplace violation fines, and inspection was sufficient.

Informal Sector: There was no information available on any informal sector activity in the country.

Bolivia

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The monthly minimum wage was greater than the government’s official poverty income. The World Bank estimated that for fiscal year 2018, approximately 35 percent of the population lived below the poverty line.

The law mandates rest periods and requires premium pay for work beyond a standard workweek. For men the official workweek is 48 hours, and the workday is eight hours. For women the law sets a 40-hour workweek and prohibits women from working at night. The law stipulates a minimum of 15 days of annual leave. Penalties for violating wage and hour laws were not commensurate with those for similar crimes such as fraud. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcement of wage and hour laws. The law mandates that the standards apply uniformly to all industries and sectors. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and may initiate sanctions. The government did not effectively enforce the law.

Occupational Safety and Health: The Ministry of Labor’s Bureau of Occupational Safety has responsibility for the protection of workers’ health and safety, but penalties for violations of occupational safety and health (OSH) laws were not commensurate with those for similar crimes such as negligence. The law mandates that the standards apply uniformly to all industries and sectors. Inspections for OSH were conducted by the same inspectors under the same authorities as wage and hour laws. The number of inspectors was insufficient to provide effective workplace inspection.

A national tripartite committee of business, labor, and government representatives was responsible for monitoring and improving OSH standards and enforcement. The Ministry of Labor maintained offices for worker inquiries, complaints, and reports of unfair labor practices and unsafe working conditions, but it was unclear if the offices were effective in regulating working conditions.

The law prohibits dismissing employees for removing themselves from work conditions they deem hazardous and provides for the Ministry of Labor to mandate the employees be rehired following an inspection.

Informal Sector: Workers in informal part-time and hourly jobs did not have labor protections. Many companies and businesses preferred workers hired on an hourly or part-time basis to avoid paying required maternity and pension benefits. According to labor law experts, the informal sector constituted approximately 65 to 75 percent of the economy. These experts claimed labor regulations meant to protect employees in effect promoted the large informal sector, because the regulations reportedly resulted in employers not hiring full-time employees due to the higher costs their employment entailed.

Civil society leaders and media reported Chinese companies employed workers in substandard conditions. NGOs documented the growing role of Chinese companies, which expanded their presence in the mining, hydrocarbon, and infrastructure sectors since 2010. There were also allegations that Chinese companies brought in prisoners from China to work in exchange for their eventual freedom.

On September 7, a total of 250 employees of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation working on the San Jose de Chiquitos-San Ignacio de Velasco road project went on strike because they alleged the company abused many of their rights. The strikers claimed the company failed to provide adequate medical attention and overtime and transportation pay, as required by law. Strikers also protested “deplorable” housing conditions at construction sites. They alleged the company crammed employees into small, tin facilities that were hot and lacked ventilation. Those who lived offsite claimed they were ferried to the campsite in crammed trucks, “worse than animals.” Conditions described by the workers could amount to forced labor.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Botswana

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: According to the Ministry of Employment, Labor Productivity, and Skills Development, the minimum hourly wage for full-time labor in the private sector was determined by sector. The minimum wage for all sectors was higher than the official estimate of the poverty income level. Formal-sector jobs generally paid well above minimum wage.

The law permits a maximum 48-hour workweek, exclusive of overtime, which is payable at one-and-a-half times the base hourly rate. In May the government froze payment for overtime work of public servants as a measure to address a budget shortfall during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to union representatives, some workers were required to perform overtime duties without compensation.

Occupational Safety and Health: There were limited occupational safety and health (OSH) requirements. The government’s ability to enforce OSH legislation remained limited due to inadequate staffing and lack of clear ministerial jurisdictions. Inspectors did have authority to conduct unannounced inspections and could demand that an employer suspend the use of hazardous materials or equipment. Inspectors could not initiate sanctions on their own but could require employers to meet in a public office to discuss matters. The government curtailed inspections because of the pandemic and health restrictions on movement to the pandemic.

The law provides protection against termination for workers who verbally complain regarding hazardous conditions, but no specific provisions in the law allow workers to remove themselves from situations that endanger their health or safety without jeopardizing their employment. There were no figures available on the number of industrial accidents during the year that caused the death or serious injury of workers. The Ministry of Employment, Labor Productivity, and Skills Development is responsible for enforcing wage, hour, and OSH standards, but the number of inspectors was not sufficient to effectively enforce the law. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar crimes.

Informal Sector: The August 2020 National Informal Sector Recovery Plan estimated that the country had approximately 190,000 informal workers who contributed approximately 5.3 percent of all economic activity. Informal work sectors included wholesale and retail trade (45 percent), manufacturing (15 percent), and construction of buildings (12 percent). More women and young persons worked in the informal sector. Some workers in the informal sector received only housing and food, particularly in the agricultural and domestic service areas. Wages in the informal sector were frequently below the minimum wage. Informal-sector workers generally were covered by the same legal protections available to formal-sector workers, but enforcement in the informal sector was rare.

Foreign migrant workers were vulnerable to exploitative working conditions like working excessive hours or having their wages withheld, mainly in domestic labor.

Brazil

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law provides for a minimum wage. The minimum wage was greater than the official poverty income level. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, however, in 2019 approximately 60 percent of workers had incomes below the minimum wage. The Ministry of Economy verified enforcement of minimum wage laws as part of regular labor inspections. Penalties alone were not sufficient to deter violations.

The law limits the workweek to 44 hours and specifies a weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours, preferably on Sundays. The law also provides for paid annual vacation, prohibits excessive compulsory overtime, limits overtime to two hours per workday, and stipulates that hours worked above the monthly limit must be compensated with at least time-and-a-half pay; these provisions generally were enforced for all groups of workers in the formal sector. The constitution also provides for the right of domestic employees to work a maximum of eight hours per day and 44 hours per week, a minimum wage, a lunch break, social security, and severance pay.

In July a labor inspection at a coffee farm in Minas Gerais State found that farm owners were illegally deducting nearly one-third of workers’ wages to cover the cost of the machinery workers use to harvest coffee beans, which should have been provided to workers for free under the law. The farm owners signed an agreement with the Labor Prosecution Service and the Public Defender’s Office agreeing to pay the deductions back to the 19 affected workers, along with an additional R$2,000 ($350) payment to each worker for moral damages.

Occupational Safety and Health: The Ministry of Economy sets occupational, health, and safety (OSH) standards that are consistent with internationally recognized norms, although unsafe working conditions were prevalent throughout the country, especially in construction. The law requires employers to establish internal committees for accident prevention in workplaces. It also provides for the protection of employees from being fired for their committee activities. Workers could remove themselves from situations that endangered their health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, although those in forced labor situations without access to transportation were particularly vulnerable to situations that endangered their health and safety. In the view of expert NGOs working in this field, officials enforced OSH laws. Penalties for violations of OSH laws were commensurate with those for crimes, such as negligence. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions.

The Ministry of Economy addressed problems related to acceptable conditions of work such as long workdays and unsafe or unhygienic work conditions. Penalties for violations include fines that vary widely depending on the nature of the violation. Fines were generally enforced and were sometimes sufficient to deter violations. The National Labor Inspection School held various virtual training sessions for labor inspectors throughout the year. The number of labor inspectors was insufficient to deter violations. During the year the Ministry of Economy launched an online database to monitor workplace accidents nationwide.

Informal Sector: According to data collected by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics as a part of its August Continuous National Household Survey, 37 million Brazilians participated in the informal sector, representing 41 percent of the employed population. Although workers in the informal sector enjoyed some labor protections, including minimum wage, hour limitations, and OSH laws and workplace inspections, they lacked access to unemployment insurance and social safety nets.

Brunei

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour: The law does not set a minimum wage. Wages were set by contract between the employee and employer and were sometimes calculated based on national origin. Many employed citizens received adequate salaries with numerous allowances, but complaints about low wages were common, especially in entry-level positions. The standard workweek for most government agencies and many private companies is Monday through Thursday and Saturday. The law provides for overtime more than 44 hours per week. The law also stipulates an employee may not work more than 72 hours of overtime per month.

Occupational Safety and Health: Government regulations establish and identify appropriate occupational safety and health standards. The law clarified that the responsibility for identifying unsafe conditions lies with occupational safety and health experts, not workers. Individuals were encouraged to report violations of health and safety standards, but the law does not explicitly protect the right to remove oneself from a hazardous workplace.

The government does not effectively enforce laws on working hours or occupational safety and health. The commissioner of the Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing labor laws. The Department of Labor inspected working conditions both on a routine basis and in response to complaints. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. The number of labor inspectors in the department was adequate to conduct mandated inspections, but inspectors failed to bring charges against some employers who violated the law. For example, following numerous inspections of workers’ accommodations, many of which were found to be unsuitable, labor inspectors did not prosecute any employers. The focus was primarily on detecting undocumented foreign workers rather than worker protection. The department has the power to terminate the licenses of abusive employers and revoke their foreign labor quotas, and it did so occasionally.

The high numbers of COVID-19 cases in workers dormitories led the Ministry of Health to focus on laborers’ living conditions in the public health context and raised awareness of unsuitable living conditions for migrant workers. Following a joint inspection by health ministry and labor officials in November, an employer was ordered to find suitable accommodation for his staff as the staff house was deemed uninhabitable.

Employers who violate laws regarding conditions of service – including payment of wages, working hours, leave, and holidays – may be fined for a first offense and, for further offenses, be fined, imprisoned, or both. Penalties for violations of wage, hour, and health and safety standards were not commensurate with those such as fraud or negligence.

Foreign laborers (predominantly Filipinos, Indonesians, and Bangladeshis) dominated most low-wage professions, such as domestic service, construction, maintenance, retail, and food service, in which violations of wage, overtime, and health and safety regulations most frequently occurred.

Government enforcement in sectors employing low-skilled labor in small-scale construction or maintenance projects was inadequate. This was especially true for foreign laborers at construction sites, where complaints of wage arrears, inadequate safety, and poor, unsafe living conditions were reported.

There were some reports of industrial accidents, most commonly in the construction sector, where the labor force is overwhelmingly foreign. In August a road worker was killed by a car while laying traffic cones on a bridge.

Bulgaria

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wages and Hour Laws: The law provides for a national minimum wage for all sectors of the economy that was higher than the government’s official poverty line. In August the government changed the methodology for determining the official poverty line, resulting in a 12 percent increase in the estimate for 2022. In May the National Statistical Institute reported that 23.8 percent of the population lived below the poverty line.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy is responsible for enforcing both the minimum wage and the standard workweek. Labor inspectors had the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions, but the number of inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance. In 2020 the General Labor Inspectorate reported that the cases of unpaid wages decreased by 38 percent, compared with the previous year. The inspectorate maintained that its authority to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against employers who owed more than two months’ wages to at least one-third of their employees for three years contributed to the effective enforcement of correct payment of wages. In 2020 labor inspectors compelled employers to pay 5.5 million levs ($3.18 million) out of an identified 10.8 million levs ($6.24 million) of unpaid wages. In May the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria reported receiving numerous complaints of employers illegally punishing workers for work-related violations by cutting their wages.

The law prohibits excessive compulsory overtime and prohibits any overtime work for children younger than 18 and for pregnant women. Persons with disabilities, women with children younger than six, and persons undertaking continuing education may work overtime at the employer’s request if the employee provides written consent. The government effectively enforced minimum wage and overtime laws, and penalties for violations were commensurate with those of similar violations. In 2020 violations related to overtime work constituted 17 percent of the total number of violations. Most violations occurred in the retail, catering, and building construction sectors. The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria criticized the legal provision allowing calculation of cumulative working time over a 12-month period, alleging that employers abused it to hide unpaid overtime work.

Occupational Safety and Health: Occupational safety and health (OSH) standards are appropriate for the main industries, and OSH experts actively identified unsafe conditions and responded to workers’ OSH complaints. A national labor safety program provides employees the right to healthy and nonhazardous working conditions. Each year the government adopts a program that outlines its goals and priorities for occupational safety and health.

The General Labor Inspectorate, which had 28 regional offices, is responsible for monitoring and enforcing occupational safety and health requirements. Of the violations identified by the inspectorate, 51.9 percent involved safety and health requirements. According to the labor inspectorate, its activity over the previous several years increased the compliance rate to 94 percent of the companies inspected. The government generally enforced occupational safety and health laws, and penalties for violations were commensurate with those of other similar laws. Most violations occurred in the construction sector as well as in retail, catering, crop and animal production, and hunting.

Conditions in sectors such as construction, mining, chemicals, and transportation continued to pose risks for workers. The number of work-related accidents registered in the first six months of the year increased by 5 percent over the same period in 2020. Retail business violations were the most common causes of occupational accidents. The government strictly enforced the law requiring companies to conduct occupational health and safety risk assessments and to adopt measures to eliminate or reduce any identified risks. Approximately 95 percent of companies inspected in 2020 had such risk assessments, and 98 percent of those had programs to eliminate the risks identified.

As of October there were a total 47 work-related deaths during the year across many sectors of the economy, compared to 55 deaths reported from January through September 2020.

Informal Sector: Legal protections and government inspections did not cover informal workers in the gray-market economy which, according to the National Statistical Institute, accounted for 21 percent of the country’s GDP in 2019. According to a survey by the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association presented in February, the share of undeclared work in the country decreased by 41.4 percent over the previous 10 years. During the two-month COVID-19 state of emergency in 2020, the law allowed employers to assign teleworking and work at home and permitted them to force workers to use half of their accrued annual leave. The law also lifted the ban on overtime work for workers and civil servants who assisted the health-care system and police.

Burkina Faso

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law mandates a minimum monthly wage in the formal sector, which does not apply to subsistence agriculture or other informal occupations. The minimum wage was less than the poverty income level.

The law mandates a standard workweek of 40 hours for nondomestic workers and a 60-hour workweek for household employees. The law provides for overtime pay, and there are regulations pertaining to rest periods, limits on hours worked, and prohibitions on excessive compulsory overtime. The Ministry of Civil Service, Labor, and Social Security is responsible for enforcing the minimum wage and hours of work standards.

Employers often paid less than the minimum wage. Employees usually supplemented their income through reliance on extended family, subsistence agriculture, or trading in the informal sector.

Occupational Safety and Health: Existing occupational safety and health (OSH) standards provide general, not industry-specific guidance, and do not actively identify unsafe conditions in particular industries. Although the labor law requires employers to take measures to provide for worker safety, to protect the physical and mental health of their workers, and to verify that the workplace, machinery, materials, substances, and work processes under their control do not present health or safety risks to the workers, the ILO noted in 2020 that the government had not yet formulated a national OSH policy, conducted periodic reviews, nor developed a national OSH program.

The law requires every company with 30 or more employees to have a work safety committee. The law provides that employees in such companies have the right to remove themselves from dangerous situations without jeopardy to their employment. If an employee working for a company with fewer than 30 employees decides to remove himself or herself due to safety concerns, a court rules on whether the employee’s decision was justified.

Ministry inspectors and labor tribunals are responsible for overseeing occupational health and safety standards in the small industrial and commercial sectors, but these standards do not apply in subsistence agriculture and other informal sectors.

The government did not effectively enforce the law. Penalties for violations were commensurate with those for comparable offenses, but the penalties were seldom applied. Inspectors lacked transport and training, and the number of inspectors was insufficient. There were no reports of effective enforcement of inspection findings during the year for wage, hour, and safety regulations. No official data was available on work-related injuries or death, but police reported in September the death of seven informal gold miners and injuries to others when the miners entered the closed Bissa gold mine in northern Bam. Mining officials noted increasing mining accidents related to illegal gold mining.

Informal Sector: The labor law applies to the informal sector, but it was seldom enforced. Workers in the informal sector represented more than 80 percent of all workers and contributed approximately 50 percent of all economic production. Almost all economic activity outside of the gold and cotton industries was small-scale and informal work. Informal-sector work included subsistence agriculture, trade, services, hotels, tourism, artisanal mining, transport, and private education. Researchers noted the strong participation of women in the informal sector, including in activities such as market trading, manufacturing millet beer (dolo), selling fruit and vegetables, sewing, hairdressing, managing kiosks, and operating restaurants. The ILO reported that informal workers were more severely impacted than formal workers by the COVID-19 pandemic, when most markets were closed for weeks and 22 percent of informal workers lost their livelihoods. Informal workers were more vulnerable to violations of wage, overtime, and OSH standards. Because they were largely self-employed and worked for their own subsistence, they could not benefit from worker protections. Safety violations were prevalent in the informal sector, especially in the mining, construction, and agricultural sectors.

Burma

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The official minimum daily wage was above the poverty line. The minimum wage covers all sectors and industries and applies to all workers in the formal sector except those in businesses with fewer than 15 employees. The law requires the minimum wage to be revised every two years. The government also established tripartite committees in the Special Economic Zones responsible for setting wage levels and an inspector for each zone.

The workweek is 44 hours per week for factories. For shops and other establishments, it is 48 hours per week. Although the law in general states that overtime should not exceed 12 hours per work week, the law allows up to 16 hours of overtime when special matters require additional overtime. Overtime for factory workers is regulated under a separate directive that limits overtime to 20 hours per week. The law also stipulates that an employee’s total working hours cannot exceed 11 hours per day (including overtime and a one-hour break). Laws did not apply to those in the informal sector or self-employed.

Occupational Safety and Health: The 2019 Occupational Safety and Health law sets standards for occupational safety, health, and welfare. The Ministry of Labor has the authority to suspend businesses operating at risk to worker health and safety until risks are remediated.

Labor unions reported instances in which workers could not remove themselves from situations that endangered their health or safety without jeopardizing their employment. Unions reported that workers concerned about COVID-19 positive cases in factories were nonetheless required to work.

The Ministry of Labor’s Factories and General Labor Laws Inspection Department oversees labor conditions in the private sector. Inspectors were authorized to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions.

The regime did not effectively enforce the law. Penalties for wage and hour violations were commensurate with those for similar violations, but penalties for safety and health violations were not. The number of labor law inspectors and factory inspectors was insufficient to address wage, salary, overtime, occupational safety and health standards, and other matters adequately. In some sectors other ministries regulated occupational safety and health laws (e.g., the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation).

Informal Sector: Observers agreed the great majority of the country’s workers were in the informal sector. Wage, hours and occupational safety and health laws did not apply to those in the informal sector or self-employed.

Informal workers’ jobs were less secure during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, in April 2020 the Ministry of Health ordered that no more than 50 workers could be present at a construction site. One of the largest employers of informal labor was the construction sector. The postcoup regime retained the policy.

Informal-sector jobs usually lacked basic benefits such as social and legal protections. In at-risk industries – defined as having occupational hazards, volatile payment structures, and ease in exploiting labor rights – on average, one in five workers had an informal work arrangement, although the proportion was even higher in manufacturing, construction, recreation, and personal services. In addition, nearly two-thirds of the workers in medium- to high-risk industries were employed informally.

Burundi

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The official minimum wages, unchanged since 1988, were below the official line of poverty. Prevailing minimum wages more reflective of labor market forces were below the international poverty line. According to the World Bank, during the year the percentage of the population that lived below the poverty line was expected to reach 87 percent.

The law limits working hours to eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, but there were many exceptions, including for workers engaged in national security, guarding residential areas, and road transport. Private security companies received guidance from the Labor Ministry allowing workweeks of 72 hours for security guards, not including training. There is no legislation on mandatory overtime, but premium pay is required for any overtime work performed. Foreign or migrant workers are subject to the same conditions and laws as citizens.

Occupational Safety and Health: The labor code establishes appropriate occupational safety and health standards for the workplace, but they often were not followed. Many buildings under construction in Bujumbura, for example, had workforces without proper protective equipment, such as closed-toe shoes, and scaffolding built of wooden poles of irregular length and width.

The Labor Inspectorate in the Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing the laws on minimum wages and working hours as well as safety standards and worker health regulations. Workers have the right to remove themselves from situations of imminent danger without jeopardy to their employment.

The government did not effectively enforce the law, and penalties were not commensurate with those for similar crimes. The labor inspectors’ mandate was limited to the formal sector, except where international agreements extend that mandate to all employment. Inspectors had the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. The government did not hire sufficient inspectors to enforce compliance or allocate sufficient resources to address enforcement needs, such as that necessary for training and transportation for inspectors.

Violations of safety standards were reportedly commonplace, but there were no official investigations, no cases of employers reported for violating safety standards, and no complaint reports filed with the Labor Inspectorate during the year. The government did not report data on deaths in the workplace.

Informal Sector: Labor laws apply to the informal sector, but they were not enforced. More than 90 percent of the working population worked in the informal economy, mostly in agriculture and as domestic workers, and thus lacked access to legal protections. Violations of wage, hour and safety regulations were common, but no cases were investigated or prosecuted.

The government approved changes to the Labor Code in November 2020 that provide protections for laborers in the informal sector. The new law defines employers’ obligations on occupational health and safety and mandates that employers contribute toward health insurance, including for employees in the informal sector. The Labor Code gives labor inspectors the power to refer violations of the code to police and courts and creates the post of Medical Inspector of Labor, which is responsible for protecting the physical and mental health of workers.

Cabo Verde

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law stipulates a monthly minimum wage greater than the official estimate of the poverty income level. The law stipulates a maximum of eight hours of work per day and 44 hours per week and requires rest periods, the length of which depends on the work sector. The Directorate General for Labor and Inspectorate General for Labor are responsible for enforcement of wage and hour laws. There were adequate numbers of inspectors to enforce compliance. Inspectors had the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions. Although companies tended to respect laws on working hours, many employees, such as domestic workers, health-care professionals, farmers, fishers, and commercial workers, commonly worked for longer periods of time than the law allows. It was common for companies not to honor foreign workers’ rights regarding contracts, especially concerning deductions for social security.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law sets minimum occupational and safety standards and gives workers the right to decline work if conditions pose serious risks to health or physical integrity. In specific high-risk sectors, such as fishing or construction, the government may and often does provide, in consultation with unions and employers, occupational safety and health rules. The employer must also develop a training program for workers. The government did not effectively enforce these laws, but the National Commission for Human Rights noted companies generally chose to follow these rules. Penalties for violations were commensurate with those for similar crimes.

The Directorate General for Labor and Inspectorate General for Labor are charged with implementing labor laws. The government imposed no penalties for violations that included fines or imprisonment during the year. Labor agencies had sufficient personnel to enforce the law. The government effectively enforced occupational safety and health laws during the year, continuing inspections to ensure workers were protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Inspectorate General for Labor 2020 report, most irregularities detected during labor inspections related to nonsubscription to the National Institute for Social Protection, nonsubscription to mandatory insurance for job injury, and some irregularities in complying with health and safety standards. Inspections revealed the most common work violations concerned the right to vacation time and the right to rest periods between work periods.

Many work-related accidents reported during the year occurred in the construction sector. In 2020 the Inspectorate General for Labor registered 782 work-related accidents (compared with 238 in 2019), including nine deaths.

Informal Sector: According to 2020 data from the National Institute of Statistics, 52 percent of workers were in the informal economy, including domestic workers and those self-employed in tourism, trade, agriculture, livestock, and fishing activities, especially in rural areas. The government sets a minimum wage for all workers, including domestic workers. Most employed in the informal sector received no benefits from national social protection services and no paid leave, including sick leave.

Cambodia

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The minimum wage covers only the garment and footwear sector. It was more than the official estimate for the poverty income level.

The law provides for a standard legal workweek of 48 hours, not to exceed eight hours per day. The law establishes a rate of 130 percent of daytime wages for nightshift work and 150 percent for overtime, which increases to 200 percent if overtime occurs at night, on Sunday, or on a holiday. Employees may work a maximum two hours of overtime per day. The law states that all overtime must be voluntary and provides for paid annual holidays. Workers in marine and air transportation are not entitled to social security and pension benefits and are exempt from limitations on work hours prescribed by law.

Workers reported overtime was often excessive and sometimes mandatory; many complained that employers forced them to work 12-hour days, although the legal limit is 10, including overtime. Workers often faced dismissal, fines, or loss of premium pay if they refused to work overtime.

The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training is responsible for enforcing labor laws, but the government did not do so effectively. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate sanctions, but penalties were seldom assessed and were insufficient to address problems. Penalties for violating laws on minimum wage (six days’ to one month’s imprisonment) and overtime (a fine of 31 to 60 times the prevailing daily base wage) were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud (six months’ to three years’ imprisonment).

The government met the International Labor Organization (ILO) standard for the number of inspectors in a less developed country but enforced standards selectively due to poorly trained staff, lack of necessary equipment, and corruption. Ministry officials admitted their inability to carry out thorough inspections of working hours and stated they relied upon Better Factories Cambodia to do such inspections in export-oriented garment factories. Outside the export garment industry, working-hour regulations were rarely, if ever, enforced. The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training put a partial moratorium on all inspections in February due to a COVID-19 outbreak and widespread community transmission, including in factories.

Workers and labor organizations raised concerns that short-term contracts (locally known as fixed-duration contracts) allowed firms, especially in the garment sector, to avoid wage and legal requirements. Fixed-duration contracts also allowed employers greater freedom to dismiss union organizers and pregnant women simply by failing to renew their contracts. The law limits such contracts to a maximum of two years, but more recent directives allow employers to extend this period to up to four years. The Arbitration Council and the ILO disputed this interpretation of the law, noting that after 24 months an employee should be offered a permanent “unlimited duration contract” (also see section 7.a.). Forced overtime remained a problem in factories making products for export. Unions and workers reported some factory managers fired workers who refused to work overtime.

Occupational Safety and Health: By law workplace health and safety standards must be adequate to provide for workers’ well-being. Labor inspectors assess fines according to a complex formula based on the severity and duration of the infraction as well as the number of workers affected. Labor Ministry inspectors are empowered to conduct unannounced visits and assess fines on the spot, without the cooperation of police.

The number of inspectors met ILO standards for a less developed country but was insufficient to enforce the law effectively. Government inspection of construction worksites was insufficient. Penalties for violating occupational safety and health laws (typically a fine of 30 to 120 times the prevailing daily base wage) were not commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud (six months’ to three years’ imprisonment).

Compliance with safety and health standards continued to be a problem in the garment export sector due largely to improper company policies, procedures, and poorly defined supervisory roles and responsibilities.

Work-related injuries and health difficulties remained problems, although the latest available statistics showed some improvement. More than 15,000 workers were injured in 2020, a 23.7 percent drop from 2019, according to the National Social Security Fund.

Informal Sector: The country had a substantial number of informal workers. Estimates varied, but 19 percent of the nearly 9.2 million-strong workforce enjoyed social protection under the National Social Security Fund, with the remaining 81 percent therefore meeting a common definition of informal workers. Such workers dominated the agricultural sector. These workers were not covered by wage, hour, and occupational safety and health laws and inspections. In addition most construction companies and brick factories operated informally, and workers in those sectors were not entitled to the minimum wage, lacked insurance, and worked weekends and holidays with few days off. Most brick-factory workers did not have access to the free medical care provided by the National Social Security Fund because the factories were not registered.

In July the government increased social protections, including direct cash payments, for some informal workers due to the economic hardships created by the pandemic.

Cameroon

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The minimum wage in all sectors was greater than the World Bank’s poverty line. Premium pay for overtime ranged from 120 to 150 percent of the hourly rate, depending on the amount of overtime and whether it was weekend or late-night overtime. Despite the minimum wage law, employers often negotiated lower wages with workers, in part due to the extremely high rate of underemployment in the country. Salaries lower than the minimum wage remained prevalent in the public works sector, where many positions required unskilled labor, as well as in domestic work, where female refugees were particularly vulnerable to unfair labor practices.

The law establishes a standard workweek of 40 hours in public and private nonagricultural firms and a total of 2,400 hours per year, with a maximum limit of 48 hours per week in agricultural and related activities. There are exceptions for guards and firefighters (56 hours per week), service-sector staff (45 hours per week), and household and restaurant staff (54 hours per week). The law mandates at least 24 consecutive hours of rest weekly.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security is responsible for enforcement of the minimum wage and workhour standards but did not enforce the law. Penalties for violations of the law were not commensurate with those for comparable crimes, such as negligence. The government more than doubled the total number of labor inspectors, but the number was still insufficient, and the ministry lacked the resources for a comprehensive inspection program.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government sets health and safety standards in the workplace. The minister in charge of labor matters establishes the list of occupational diseases in consultation with the National Commission on Industrial Hygiene and Safety. Ministry inspectors and occupational health physicians are responsible for monitoring health and safety standards.

The regulations were not enforced in the informal sector. The labor code also mandates that every enterprise and establishment of any kind provide medical and health services for its employees. This stipulation was not enforced.

Informal Sector: According to International Labor Organization estimates as of December 2020, the employment situation in the country could be characterized by the large size of its informal economy. The International Labor Organization further indicated that informal workers, who represented 90 percent of all employed, were mostly women. Sectors where informal employment was most prevalent included artisanal mining, petty trade, hunting and fishing, and handicraft. The informal economy was mostly unregulated.

Canada

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: There is no national minimum wage. Employees are subject to the minimum wage of the province or territory in which they are employed. In June the government amended the law to apply a federal minimum wage of C$15 ($11.87) per hour, effective December 29, for workers across the country in federally regulated sectors. If the minimum wage of a province or territory is higher than the federal minimum wage, the law requires employers to pay federally regulated workers the higher minimum wage in that jurisdiction. In 2018 the government adopted the Market Basket Measure (MBM) as its first official poverty line. The income level varies based on family size and province; for example, the threshold for a family of four in the national capital, Ottawa, was C$48,391 ($38,300) in 2019, the most recent date for which data was available. The minimum wage was less than the MBM for a family of four, notably in urban centers. The government effectively enforced wage rates, and penalties were generally sufficient to deter violations.

Standard work hours vary by province, but the limit is 40 or 48 hours per week, with at least 24 hours of rest. The law requires payment of a premium for work above the standard workweek. There is no specific prohibition on excessive compulsory overtime, which is regulated by means of the required rest periods in the labor code that differ by industry. Some categories of workers have specific employment rights that differ from the standard, including commercial fishermen, oil-field workers, loggers, home caregivers, professionals, managers, and some sales staff. Employment and Social Development Canada is responsible for regulation and enforcement of wage and hour standards in federally regulated sectors across the country, and departments of labor, training, and employment in each province and territory regulate labor standards in all other employment sectors in their respective jurisdictions. Some trade unions claimed that limited resources and number of inspectors hampered the government’s enforcement efforts, including delays in addressing complaints.

Occupational Safety and Health: Federal law provides safety and health standards for employees under federal jurisdiction. Provincial and territorial legislation provides for all other employees, including foreign and migrant workers. Standards were current and appropriate for the industries they covered. Responsibility for identifying unsafe situations resides with authorities, employers, and supervisors, not the worker. Inspectors conducted proactive workplace visits to raise awareness of hazards, advise parties of their rights, duties, and obligations, and to promote and assist with compliance, and reactively in response to fatalities, injuries, and complaints. Federal, provincial, and territorial laws protect the right of workers with “reasonable cause” to refuse dangerous work and to remove themselves from hazardous work conditions, and authorities effectively enforced this right. The government also promoted safe working practices and provided training, education, and resources through the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, a federal agency composed of representatives of government, employers, and labor.

Minimum wage, hours of work, and occupational health and safety standards were enforced by the same authorities. Standards were effectively enforced, and penalties were commensurate with those for similar crimes. Federal and provincial labor departments monitored and effectively enforced labor standards by conducting inspections through scheduled and unscheduled visits, in direct response to reported complaints, and at random. Inspectors had authority to require remedies and initiate sanctions, including fines, suspensions, or closures. Penalties were sufficient to deter violations.

NGOs reported migrants, especially agricultural migrant workers, new immigrants, young workers, and the unskilled were vulnerable to violations of the law on minimum wage, overtime pay, unpaid wages, and excessive hours of work. NGOs also alleged that restrictions on the types of labor complaints accepted for investigation and delays in processing cases discouraged the filing of complaints. Federal and federally regulated workers could file complaints related to unpaid wages and health and safety, and grievances for unjust dismissal and genetic testing. Restrictions varied between provinces in provincially regulated industries, and time limits existed to file complaints.

According to the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada, during 2019, the most recent year for which data were available, there were 925 fatalities related to the workplace, including from traumatic injuries and work-related exposure to chemicals or disease-causing substances.

Informal Sector: In 2020 the government’s national statistical agency estimated GDP at market prices for activity in the informal sector in the country in 2018 at C$61.2 billion ($49.2 billion), or 2.7 percent of total GDP. Residential construction, retail trade, finance, insurance, real estate, rental services, and accommodation and food services were the largest sectors of informal activity, and wages and tips accounted for the largest share of unreported income. The federal government has authority to enforce standards over federal workers and in federally regulated industries and provincial governments in all other sectors, but standards were not enforced in practice because work in the informal economy was not reported. Similarly, workers in the informal economy were not subject to federal or provincial wage, hour, and occupational health and safety laws and inspection in practice because the work was not reported. Employers or businesses often classified workers in the gig economy as self-employed independent contractors and not employees, which left them without protections afforded under labor statutes, including the right to unionize or bargain collectively; to occupational health and safety protections, minimum wage, and sick leave provisions; and access to employment insurance.

Central African Republic

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wages and Hour Laws: The labor code states the Ministry of Labor sets minimum wages in the public sector by decree. The government, the country’s largest employer, set wages after consultation, but not negotiation, with government employee trade unions. The minimum wages in the private sector were established based on sector-specific collective conventions resulting from negotiations between employers and workers’ representatives in each sector.

The minimum wage in the private sector varied by sector and type of work. The minimum wage in all sectors was less than the World Bank standard for extreme poverty.

The law sets a standard workweek of 40 hours for government employees and most private-sector employees. Household employees may work up to 52 hours per week. The law also requires a minimum rest period of 48 hours per week for citizen, foreign, and migrant workers. Overtime policy varied according to the workplace. Violations of overtime policy may be referred to the Ministry of Labor, although it was unknown whether this occurred during the year. There is no legal prohibition on excessive or compulsory overtime. The labor code, however, states that employers must provide for the health and security of employees who are engaged in overtime work. Penalties were commensurate with other analogous crimes.

Occupational Safety and Health: There are general laws on health and safety standards in the workplace, but the Ministry of Labor did not precisely define them. The labor code states that a labor inspector may compel an employer to correct unsafe or unhealthy work conditions.

The law provides that workers may remove themselves from dangerous working conditions without jeopardy to their employment. In such instances the labor inspector notifies the employer and requires that conditions be addressed within four working days. The high unemployment and poverty rates deterred workers from exercising this right.

The government did not effectively enforce labor standards, and violations were common in all sectors of the economy. The Ministry of Labor has primary responsibility for managing labor standards, while enforcement falls under the Ministry of Interior and Public Safety and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. The government did not have an adequate number of labor inspectors to enforce compliance with labor laws. Penalties were commensurate with those for similar violations but were seldom applied and insufficient to enforce compliance. The law applies to foreign and migrant workers as well, although foreign workers must meet residency requirements to join a union. Employers commonly violated safety and health standards in agriculture and mining.

Diamond mines, which employed an estimated 400,000 persons, were subject to standards imposed by the mining code and inspection by the Miners’ Brigade. Nevertheless, monitoring efforts were underfunded and insufficient. Despite the law requiring those working in mines to be at least 18, observers frequently saw underage diggers. Diggers often worked in open pits susceptible to collapse, working seven days a week during the peak season. Diggers were employed by larger mine operators, worked in dangerous conditions at the bottom of open pits, and lacked safety equipment.

Miners, by contrast, had a share in ownership and participated in the proceeds of diamond sales. Miners often supplemented these earnings with either illegal diamond sales or wages from other sectors of the economy.

The government did not release information on workplace injury and deaths or other occupational safety and health statistics, and officials failed to respond to direct requests for information from the International Labor Organization in previous years.

Informal Sector: A 2020 World Bank Group report stated that most economic activity in the country was informal, conducted by micro, small-, and medium-sized enterprises representing 40 to 60 percent of GDP. The minimum wage applied only to the formal sector, leaving most of the labor force of the country in the informal sector without a minimum wage. Most labor was performed outside the wage and social security system, especially by farmers in the large subsistence agricultural sector and laborers in the artisanal mining sector. While most labor protection laws applied to the informal sector, they were not enforced, and violations of wage, hour, and safety regulations were common.

Chad

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 was greater than the World Bank poverty rate. The law limits most employment to 39 hours per week, with overtime paid for additional hours. Agricultural work is limited to 2,400 hours per year, an average of 46 hours per week. All workers are entitled to uninterrupted rest periods of between 24 and 48 hours per week and paid annual holidays.

The Directorate of Labor Inspection of the Ministry of Labor has responsibility for the enforcement of the minimum wage and work hours, but the government did not effectively enforce the law. Many persons were paid less than the minimum wage, especially in the informal sector. The Ministry of Public Works employed an insufficient number of labor inspectors to enforce the law, especially in the large artisanal gold mining sector in the north. Labor inspectors may refer cases to the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights for prosecution and have the authority to make unannounced inspections. The government did not provide adequate staffing or training, which, together with corruption, impeded effective enforcement. Authorities did not always respect legal protections for foreign and irregular workers. Penalties were not commensurate with violations.

Salary arrears remained a problem for some employees, most often in the education and health-care sectors that saw multiple strikes throughout the year. Workers did not always avail themselves of their rights concerning workhour limits, largely because they preferred the additional pay. Pursuant to International Monetary Fund recommendations, the government paid some wage arrears to private-sector contractors.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law mandates occupational safety and health (OSH) standards that are up to date and appropriate for main industries, but the government did not effectively enforce the law. Despite penalties existing for violation of OSH laws, enforcement often depended on the personal connections and financial resources of parties involved. Workers have the right to remove themselves from dangerous working conditions without jeopardy to their employment, but they generally did not do so. The law gives inspectors the authority to enforce the law and explicitly covers all workers, including foreign and informal workers.

The Directorate of Labor Inspection of the Ministry of Labor also has responsibility for the enforcement of the OSH standards. Multinational companies generally met the government’s acceptable OSH standards. The civil service and local private companies occasionally disregarded OSH standards, while artisanal mining in the north remained a sector with scant enforcement of labor protections for juveniles and other vulnerable workers drawn to the region by the prospect of financial gain. In June the tunnel of an informal gold mine in the country’s northern Miski region collapsed, killing 11 workers. A similar incident occurred in 2019, killing 52 workers, and accidents of smaller magnitude typically occurred several times per year. Governors and relevant ministries sent delegations in the wake of such incidents to encourage compliance with OSH regulations but failed to spur meaningful institutional reform. Local private companies and public offices often had substandard conditions, including a lack of ventilation, fire protection, and OSH protection.

Informal Sector: The World Bank reported that almost 96 percent of workers were in the informal sector, and approximately 46 percent of total workers were self-employed with no social security insurance. According to the Household Consumption and Informal Sector survey conducted by the government every five years, most male informal workers were engaged in agriculture, and more than 85 percent of the rural population engaged in crop and livestock production. Informal workers in urban areas engaged in household manufacturing, services, or trade. The country’s low population density limited market opportunities in both agriculture and nonagriculture sectors. Security conflicts in the Lake Chad region harmed informal sector livelihoods sustained by fishing and cross-border trade.

Informal workers who obtain work contracts from their employers are protected by the labor code, minimum wage law, and social security. The vast majority, however, who were self-employed and thus worked without a contract, did not benefit from wage, hour, and OSH laws and inspections. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Labor, through its Directorate of Labor Inspection, investigated claims of possible legal violations in both the formal and informal sectors. While they cannot prosecute, they can refer cases for prosecution to the labor division of the Ministry of Justice.

Chile

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The national minimum wage exceeded the poverty level. The law sets the legal workweek at six days or 45 hours. The maximum workday is 10 hours (including two hours of overtime pay). The law provides exemptions from restrictions on hours of work for some categories of workers such as managers; administrators; employees of fishing boats; restaurant, club, and hotel workers; drivers; airplane crews; telecommuters or employees who work outside of the office; and professional athletes. The law mandates at least one 24-hour rest period during the workweek, except for workers at high altitudes, who may exchange a work-free day each week for several consecutive work-free days every two weeks. Annual leave for full-time workers is 15 workdays, and workers with more than 10 years of service are eligible for an additional day of annual leave for every three years worked. Overtime is any time worked beyond the 45-hour workweek, and workers are due time-and-a-half pay for any overtime performed. The Labor Directorate, an agency under the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, is responsible for enforcing minimum wage and other labor laws and regulations; penalties were commensurate with those for similar crimes. As of July the directorate had 374 inspectors who conducted both regular and unannounced workplace visits. Inspectors can impose penalties for violations of labor, social security, and occupational safety and health (OSH) laws.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law establishes OSH standards, which are applicable to all sectors. Special safety and health norms exist for specific sectors such as mining and diving. The National Service for Geology and Mines is further mandated to regulate and inspect the mining industry. The law does not regulate the informal sector. By law workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in this situation.

The Health Ministry and the Labor Ministry administered and effectively enforced OSH standards. Penalties for violations of OSH laws were commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as negligence. The law establishes fines for noncompliance with labor regulations. Companies may receive “special sanctions” for infractions such as causing irreversible injuries to an employee.

Informal Sector: A July-September survey by the Statistics National Institute revealed that informal employment represented 27.7 percent of total employment, an increase of 4.2 percentage points from 2020. Impacted sectors included wholesale and retail trade (informal employment up by 30.6 percent) and construction (informal employment up by 62.3 percent). Regarding new jobs in the informal sector, self-employed workers were up by 48.1 percent, domestic service workers were up by 46.7 percent, and jobs with employers were up by 39.3 percent. Combined, those three categories represented the majority of new jobs in the informal sector.

The government provided economic and social measures such as the Emergency Family Income program to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including workers in the informal economy. As of January, the government provided other types of social assistance in the form of cash payments to low-income families and unemployed workers. In September the government began paying an incentive to companies for hiring women, young workers, men aged 55 years and older, persons with disabilities, and workers retired due to a disability.

China (Includes Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet)

Colombia

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The legal minimum monthly wage is approximately twice the amount of the poverty line; however, almost one-half of the total workforce earned less than the minimum wage.

The law provides for a regular workweek of 48 hours and a minimum rest period of eight hours within the week. Exceptions to this may be granted by the Ministry of Labor and were frequently granted in the mining sector. The law stipulates that workers receive premium compensation for nighttime work, hours worked in excess of 48 per week, and work performed on Sundays. The law permits compulsory overtime only in exceptional cases where the work is considered essential for the company’s functioning.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law provides for workers’ occupational safety and health (OSH) in the formal sector. The legal standards were generally up to date and appropriate for the main formal industries. The government did not effectively enforce OSH laws in all cases. The law does not cover informal-sector workers, including many mining and agricultural workers. In general the law protects workers’ rights to remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, although some violations of this right were reported during the year. In cases of formal grievances, authorities generally protected employees in this situation.

The Ministry of Labor is required to enforce labor laws in the formal sector, including OSH regulations, through periodic inspections by labor inspectors. Inspectors have the authority to perform unannounced inspections and may also initiate sanction procedures, including after opening investigations. The number of inspectors during the year was approximately the same as in 2020 and was insufficient to enforce the law effectively. The Ministry of Labor reported that as of March, more than one-fourth (227) of the inspectors were in provisional status. Individual labor violations can result in penalties insufficient to deter violations. Unionists stated that more fines needed to be collected to impact occupational safety and health problems.

Nonunion workers, particularly those in the agricultural and port sectors, reportedly worked under hazardous conditions because they feared losing their jobs through subcontracting mechanisms or informal arrangements if they reported abuses. Some unionized workers who alleged they suffered on-the-job injuries complained that companies illegally fired them in retaliation for filing workers compensation claims. Only the courts may order reinstatement, and workers complained the courts were backlogged, slow, and corrupt. The Ministry of Labor may sanction a company found to have broken the law in this way, but it may offer no other guarantees to workers.

According to the National Mining Agency, through July 16, a total of 87 workers died as a result of accidents in the mines, the majority due to explosions, poisoned atmosphere, cave-ins, and floods. The National Mining Agency reported this number was on par with deaths as of this date in 2020.

Security forces reported that armed actors, including FARC dissidents, the ELN, and organized-crime groups, engaged in illegal mining of gold, coal, coltan, nickel, copper, and other minerals. Illegal mines, which lacked safety precautions, were particularly common in the departments of Antioquia, Boyaca, Choco, Cundinamarca, and Valle del Cauca.

Informal Sector: While the government’s labor inspectors undertook administrative actions to enforce the minimum wage in the formal sector, the government did not effectively enforce the law in the informal sector. The government continued to promote formal employment generation. Eligibility to enroll and pay into the traditional social security system, which includes health and pension plans, is conditioned on earning the legal minimum monthly wage. The government developed plans to implement National Development Plan provisions that allow those who earn less than the legal minimum monthly wage, often because of part-time, informal, or own-account work, to contribute to a new, parallel “social protection floor” system that includes a subsidized health plan and retirement savings plan. As of August these provisions were under legal review by the Constitutional Court. While employer abuse of this new system is prohibited, labor unions complained it opens the door for employers to move full-time workers into part-time positions to take advantage of the new system.

DANE reported that for the second trimester, 50.3 percent of workers employed in 13 principal cities and metropolitan areas were paying into the pension system. The proportion of informal workers in 23 cities and metropolitan areas surveyed was 48.5 percent, according to DANE. In June, DANE reported the national unemployment rate was 14.4 percent, down from 21.4 percent at the height of the economic impact from COVID-19 in May 2019. The government continued to support complementary social security programs to increase the employability of extremely poor individuals, displaced persons, and the elderly.

The Ministry of Labor reported continued problems addressing high numbers of labor complaints related to the labor and employment impacts of COVID-19. Labor unions, NGOs, and workers’ organizations alleged a range of labor abuses related to the fulfillment of labor contracts during the pandemic, including employers forcing workers to sign unpaid leaves of absence in lieu of authorized furloughs, dismissals without severance pay, salary reductions under threats of dismissal, and the imposition of part-time, temporary, or hourly work with negative consequences for workers’ entitlement to social security benefits.

Comoros

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The existing minimum wage established by the government is greater than the poverty line, but it is only a guideline. The law provides for a 40-hour workweek, except in the agriculture sector, where it sets the maximum hours of work at 2,400 per year (equivalent to 46 hours per week). The minimum weekly rest period is 24 consecutive hours. The law provides for paid annual leave accumulated at the rate of 2.5 days per month of service. There are no provisions to prohibit compulsory overtime; overtime is determined through collective bargaining. There are no sectors or groups of workers excluded from these laws within the formal sector, but the law does not apply to the informal sector.

The Ministries of Finance and Labor set wages in the large public sector and imposed a minimum wage in the small, formal private sector. Unions had adequate influence to negotiate minimum wage rates for different skill levels for unionized jobs. These provisions applied to all union workers, regardless of sector or country of origin. Unions promoted this de facto minimum wage via their ability to strike against employers.

The Ministry of Youth, Employment, Labor, Sport, and Cultural Arts is responsible for enforcement of wage and hour laws. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and to initiate financial sanctions. The government did not effectively enforce the law. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar violations. There were four labor inspectors (two on Grande Comore and one each on Anjouan and Moheli), but they did not have adequate training to perform their duties. The number of labor inspectors was insufficient to enforce compliance.

Occupational Health and Safety: The labor code includes a chapter on appropriate occupational safety and health requirements, but these were seldom enforced. Fishing was considered the most hazardous work. Mostly self-employed, fishermen often worked from unsafe canoes, and sometimes died while fishing in rough seas. Workers may remove themselves from situations that endanger health or safety without jeopardy to their employment. The law provides that labor inspectors may remove workers from such situations as well, but this was not effective since labor inspectors generally did not visit worksites. There were no known industrial accidents, but workers in construction, ports, public works such as road construction, fishing, and agricultural sectors sometimes experienced hazardous working conditions.

Informal Sector: The informal sector was estimated at 65 percent of the total workforce, but there were no official statistics. Common types of informal work included housekeeping, mechanics, bricklayers, electricians, agriculture, and fishing. Workers in the informal sector are not covered by wage, hour, and occupational safety and health laws and inspections. The government did not provide operational support for labor inspections of informal work sites.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Section 7. Worker Rights

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The government sets regional minimum wages for all workers in private enterprise, with the highest minimum wages applied to the cities of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. The minimum wage was above the poverty line, but it did not provide a living wage for a worker and family. Most businesses were not in compliance with this minimum wage but faced few penalties.

In the public sector the government sets wages annually by decree and permits unions to act only in an advisory capacity. Certain subcategories of public employees, such as staff members of decentralized entities (towns, territories, and sectors), do not have the right under the law to participate in the wage-setting consultations.

The law defines different standard workweeks, ranging from 45 hours per week to 72 hours every two weeks, for various jobs and prescribes rest periods and premium pay for overtime. The law establishes no monitoring or enforcement mechanism, and employers in both the formal and informal sectors often did not respect these provisions. The law does not prohibit compulsory overtime.

The government did not effectively enforce wage and hour regulations. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar violations and were seldom applied. The Ministry of Labor employed 115 labor inspectors and 71 labor controllers, which was not sufficient to enforce consistent compliance with labor regulations. Labor inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and initiate penalties.

Occupational Safety and Health: The labor code specifies health and safety standards, but they had not been updated in many years.

The government did not effectively enforce health and safety standards in the informal sector, and enforcement was uneven in the formal sector. The Ministry of Mines validation process includes criteria on minimal safety standards. Nonetheless, the law does not allow workers to remove themselves from hazardous situations without putting their employment in jeopardy. Penalties were not commensurate with those for similar violations.

Informal Sector: Labor laws apply to the informal sector, but they were rarely applied. Approximately 90 percent of laborers worked in the informal sector in subsistence agriculture, informal commerce or mining, or other informal pursuits, where they often faced hazardous or exploitive working conditions.

In 2015 IPIS estimated there were 300,000 artisanal miners in the 2,000 identified mine sites in the East. It was estimated there were likely an additional 1,000 mine sites that had not been identified. In October seven artisanal gold miners were reported dead and five missing in South Kivu after a landslide caused by torrential rain.

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.

Tibet

Section 7. Worker Rights

See section 7, Worker Rights, in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2021 for China.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future