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January 15, 2021

By Karen Fulton and Bulela Mungeka

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Overhaul of Algerian legislation

Since 1988, Algerian legislation has undergone a total overhaul in areas affecting economic and social life, particularly with regard to labour law.

These changes were implemented with a view to opening up the Algerian market to the international market and to potential national and foreign investors. Thus, labour relations have been redefined in relation to the old texts, which gave a great deal of power to structures and bodies representing workers, or the provisions relating to labour discipline and the powers of trade unions in private enterprises.

Under the influence of the old texts, it was difficult to separate from a worker, for both disciplinary and economic reasons, without incurring the wrath of the single union. There was a so‑called "managerial" trade unionism in the sense of the socialist ideas in vogue at a certain time. "Reinstatement of the worker" was the sentence most often pronounced by the social courts.

This legislation has therefore undergone a major overhaul and several texts have therefore been adopted, which are more liberal and more flexible for the employer. For example, Algeria adopted new regulatory texts and laws on occupational hygiene, safety, and medicine; on prevention and settlement of collective labour disputes and the exercise of the right to strike and in particular Law 90‑11 on labour relations which is fully in line with the process of overhauling the labour legislation resulting from the political and economic reforms and marks a decisive turning point in the management of employment and working conditions for several decades and therefore heralding a new era in the evolution of labour law accompanying the end of the socialist economy and participating in the implementation of the economic reform to move to a market economy.

The legislative framework enshrined in this new legislative corpus replaces the law on the general status of workers and the ordinance on the socialist management of enterprises and draws its main foundations from the Constitution of February 1989, the ILO Conventions ratified by Algeria and the laws on the autonomy of enterprises.

In particular, Law 90‑11 of 21 April 1990 on labour relations reaffirms the fundamental rights of workers and sets out their obligations, enhances the economic content of the employment relationship and encourages the promotion of qualifications, effort and merit. It also introduces flexibility in the use of fixed‑term and part‑time work, facilitates the integration of the disabled into the world of work, sets a maximum rate of authorized overtime, makes the preservation of employment an essential element of consultation and ensures the protection of workers' rights in the event of changes in the legal status of the employing body.


New Labour Code being drafted

A new Labour Code is being drafted which strengthens and enshrines workers' rights and trade union freedoms and includes proposals for the consolidation of social dialogue at all levels and others on the consecration and preservation of the freedom to exercise the right to organize. It also includes new articles on combating and preventing illegal work, proposing the establishment of a national commission composed of representatives of several sectors and ministerial departments and wilaya sub‑commissions, responsible for combating this and monitoring the activities of the world of work. The draft labour law will also finally introduce: (i) a new case of recourse to fixed‑term employment contracts, which will be limited, to avoid abuse; and (ii) specific provisions relating to the protection of workers in the workplace, particularly against sexual harassment.

There is nothing precise as to the final content of the draft law nor the final provisions provided therein nor the date of its entry into force. However, we believe that the year will expedite the process of its adoption given the pressure exercised by the unions and the OIT, as well as the consequences of the pandemic that require —the implementation of new measures for force majeure situations.

With thanks to Karen Fulton and Bulela Mungeka of Bowmans for their invaluable collaboration on this update.


Image: Suzanne Horne
Suzanne Horne
Partner, Employment Law Department

Image: Kirsty Devine
Kirsty Devine
Associate, Employment Law Department

Image: Aashna Parekh
Aashna Parekh
Associate, Employment Law Department

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