Answer ... The Labour Law prohibits any violation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment, for whatever reason, and particularly direct or indirect discrimination between employees in all matters relating to vocational training, recruitment and the terms and conditions of employment.
‘Direct discrimination’ is defined as “any distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, religion, sect, political opinion and belief, origin or nationalism”. On the other hand, indirect discrimination occurs in the event of any exclusion or preference based on nationality, age, health, economic or social conditions, affiliation to a trade union or trade union activity, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of treatment in recruitment and employment.
Answer ... The Labour Law affords special protection to women and juveniles.
Employment of juveniles: The Labour Law protects juvenile workers (aged between 15 and 18) by regulating their employment and in some instances prohibiting their employment where this is deemed dangerous to their health, life or morals.
The Labour Law sets out a list of such prohibited work, which includes working:
- underground or underwater, at dangerous heights or in restricted areas;
- in unhealthy environments which involve exposure to hazards or unusual temperatures; or
- under difficult conditions for long hours.
Juveniles must undergo a medical examination before being employed in order to validate their physical condition and fitness for the job, and subsequently at least once a year during the term of employment.
Furthermore, the Labour Law affords certain protections to juveniles, including in relation to working time and annual leave. The Labour Law expressly prohibits the employment of juveniles of up to 16 years of age for more than seven hours a day; where their daily working hours exceed four continuous hours, they must also be given at least one hour’s rest. Juveniles are entitled to annual leave of 30 days on full pay.
Employers that breach the provisions of the Labour Law relating to the employment of juveniles are criminally liable.
Employment of women: The Labour Law includes many measures aimed at protecting women in employment and compels employers who engage female employees to display on a board in the workplace a copy of the specific rules regulating the protection of women at work.
Such measures include prohibitions against:
forcing a pregnant or a breastfeeding employee to perform any extra work:
- considered by the relevant medical authority to be unhealthy for the employee or her child; or
- considered dangerous to either of them as evidenced by a medical report; and
- employing a woman during a night shift, unless the job is necessary due to a force majeure event or for the purpose of preserving raw materials or perishable goods. This prohibition shall not apply to women working in the management, commerce, health, entertainment, transportation and telecommunication sectors.
Women are also granted a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours, which includes seven hours of rest between 9:00pm and 6:00am.
The employer shall provide:
- a resting place for female employees, according to the work’s requirements; and
- a nursery, according to the minister’s instructions.
Answer ... The Labour Law does not explicitly provide for protection measures to be undertaken against discrimination in the workforce.
The general principle of non-discrimination as discussed in question 4.1 above applies to prohibit employers from conducting any acts of direct or indirect discrimination.
Answer ... An employee may file a discrimination claim with the labour court when exposed to any form of forced labour, discrimination or harassment in employment.
Moreover, enterprises and workplaces are subject to labour inspections under the supervision and direction of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The labour inspection committee must provide an appropriate mechanism for the receipt of employees’ complaints in respect of any violations of their rights as set forth in the Labour Law, and inform employees of how to avail of this mechanism. The inspection committee routinely prepares reports and refers them to the ministry. The ministry will then issue a warning to the employer before deciding whether to refer the matter to the competent court.
Answer ... In the event of violation of the provisions relating to discrimination, forced labour and sexual harassment, among other things, the party in breach shall be subject to imprisonment for up to six months and/or a fine of up to IQD 1 million.
Furthermore, an employer can dismiss an employee who engages on more than one occasion in conduct that is incompatible with work ethics, provided that the employer has already served the employee with a prior warning. An employee may also be dismissed if he or she is found guilty by a final court judgment of committing a misdemeanour or crime in the workplace against a colleague.
Answer ... The Labour Law prohibits sexual harassment at different levels, whether in relation to recruitment, vocational training or employment terms and conditions. The Labour Law further prohibits any other behaviour that creates a hostile, intimidating or offending work environment.
‘Sexual harassment’ as referred to in the Labour Law includes any physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature, or any other conduct based on sex, which:
- affects the dignity of a person;
- is undesirable and unreasonable;
- is insulting to the victim; and
- explicitly or implicitly results in a decision that affects the employee’s job, where he or she has rejected such conduct.
The employee affected can file a complaint with the labour court; if found guilty, the perpetrator may be subject to imprisonment and/or a fine, as stated in question 4.5.