Working in Iraq
The Iraqi Labour Law No. (37)/ 2015 regulates the relationship between employers and workers and outlines their respective rights and obligations in Iraq. This includes: wages, working hours, leave entitlements and working conditions. It also outlines rules and provisions to support specific groups such as women in the workplace.
The Labour Law defined the foreign worker in an Article (1/23) thereof as (every natural person) who does not hold Iraqi nationality and works or desires to work in Iraq as an employee.
Following the provisions of Articles 30 and 31 of the Iraqi Labour Law, Art. 30 states that “Any employer is prohibited from employing any foreign worker in any capacity unless s/he has a valid work permit in Iraq”. Consequently, Art. 31 stipulates that “It is prohibited for a foreign worker to join any type of job before obtaining a valid work permit in Iraq.”
The work permit is issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs upon request at the relevant department of the Ministry and is subject to a fee.
In the event of violation of the Art. 30 & 31, s/he can become a subject of an administrative fine, which will be defined and calculated from the minimum daily wage.
Furthermore, an employer in Iraq is responsible to inform employees on internal rules and regulations. These rules must be publicly accessible and visible at all times. The foreign worker must comply with his/her duties that are stipulated in the employment contract.
Important information for foreign workers (as per labour law):
- Make sure your contract includes mandatory information: Articles 37(a), (d) and (e) of the labour law states that the employment agreement should include, among other things, its duration, allowances and the employee's working hours.
- Salary: Article 59 provides that:
- the employee must be informed about all salary components before employment; and
- the employee must receive on payment a statement detailing the elements that formed the paid salary amount.
- Working hours: Article 67(1) states that normal working hours are limited to eight hours per day and 48 hours per week, except for certain types of job or position (eg, employees in managerial positions).
Overtime is limited to four hours per day, eight hours per week, 40 hours per 90 days and 120 hours per year.
- Penalties: Article 138(2) stipulates the following penalties for an employee's breach of duties:
- issuance of a written notice;
- suspension from work for three days at most;
- postponement of the employee's annual raise for a maximum of 180days;
- demotion and a consequent salary reduction; and
- termination of employment.
- Termination for error or poor performance: Article 143 prohibits the termination of an employment agreement due to an employee's error or poor work performance.
However, an error's recurrence or the employee's continued poor performance enables the employer to terminate the employment agreement by written notice if the employee's work does not improve within 30 days of receiving the notice.
- Termination of employment: There are several authorised grounds of terminations stipulated in the Labour Law, including:
- A mutual written agreement
- The contract term expiration
- Of the employee’s own will
- Where the employee is incapacitated for more than 6 months, due to illness
- Where the employee is incapacitated to excess of 75% of their ability
- Decline in the company’s business, provided that the Labour Minister is informed
- It is possible to also terminate an employment contract if in accordance with the Civil Code.
Rights of the foreign workers in Iraq
The foreign workers in Iraq enjoys all the rights and freedoms stipulated in the applicable labour law (Article 42). Please note that as a foreign worker you have a right to:
- Receive the wages promised to you in the employment agreement.
- Enjoy daily and weekly rest periods in accordance with the work contract, collective agreements and the provisions of this law.
- Equal opportunities and equal treatment, regardless of gender, origin and appearance, religion and sexual orientation.
- Take advantage of vocational training programs.
- Harassment-free work environment.
- Work in safe and healthy environment.
- Negotiate with an employer for an improved work conditions.
- Strike, in accordance with the provisions of the law.
- Freedom of association: workers can join trade unions that are independent of government and employer influence.