Practice Area Articles
By Gordon Barr and Malavika Vijayan
Back to International Employment Law
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2023
Suspension of use of the Defence Law, Orders, and Circulars
At the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Jordanian Government enacted the National Defence Law, its Orders and Circulars (collectively the “Defence Law”) to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the general workforce in Jordan.
This had the subsequent effect of suspending the applicability of provisions of the Labour Law No.(8) for the year 1996 (the “Labour Law”). Namely, employers who dismissed employees without due cause during COVID-19 were subjected to criminal penalties, as applicable. Furthermore, the Defence Law practically suspended the applicability of the Flexible Working Regulations which defined and regulated remote work and part-time work in Jordan.
Although the Jordanian Government has not formally announced the suspension of use of the Defence Law, it is expected that the same shall take place during the beginning of the new year.
The provisions of the Labour Law shall come back into effect upon the suspension of use of the Defence Law. This will allow employers to resume their application of provisions for dismissal of employees as stipulated within the Labour Law. Hence, employers will no longer be subject to criminal penalties in cases involving dismissal of employees pursuant to the Defence Law.
Employers should remain diligent with regards to the re-applicability of the provisions of the Labour Law. The suspension of use of the Defence Law is to be viewed as a positive change for employers, which will provide employers with the flexibility and certainty of applying the provisions of the Labour Law.
Repeal of the Investment Law
The Investment Environment Law, No. (21) for the year 2022 (the “Investment Environment Law”) will repeal the current Investment Law, No. (30) for the year 2014 (the “Current Investment Law”) on the 14th of January 2023. In this respect, and for the time being, the regulations emanating from the Current Investment Law shall remain applicable. However, there may be an amendment to the existing relevant investment regulations once the Investment Environment Law is issued in order to amalgamate all the various regulations into one piece of cohesive regulation.
In relation to employment matters, the Investment Environment Law is projected to set out the following:
Employment quotas/ratios, whether in respect of employment of Jordanian nationals or women, in order to obtain investment incentives; and
Employment of employees for investment projects in the various free zones in Jordan.
Employers utilizing the Current Investment Law will need to identify the alterations brought forward by the Investment Environment Law, and establishments working within free zones will need to ensure that they abide by the provisions of the same.
Additionally, employers looking to benefit from the Investment Environment Law will need to await the issuance of the comprehensive corresponding regulations that will set out in greater detail the relevant updates to employment law that would impact their business operations.
We note that the issuance of the comprehensive corresponding regulations may also repeal any current regulations emanating from the Current Investment Law that employers may be benefiting from. Employers should remain diligent with regards to the updated regulations to be issued in relation to the Investment Environment Law and the applicability of the same.
Introduction of a Data Protection Law
Jordan does not have a codified data protection regime in place and a draft data protection law is awaiting ratification by the Jordanian Parliament, the Draft Data Protection Law for the year 2019 (the “Draft Data Protection Law”) which would regulate the main concepts of transparency, accuracy, storage limitation, and data minimisation. The Draft Data Protection Law is a simplified version of the GDPR and follows the main provisions of the same albeit in a more rudimentary manner. We note that there is a possibility for the Draft Data Protection Law to be ratified during the course of 2023. However, this is not guaranteed as this legislation has been awaiting ratification for a while.
Jordanian Employers will be required to amend their methods of dealing with employee data and sensitive data, and abide by the provisions of the Draft Data Protection Law with regards to controlling and transferring the said employee data.
Employers should remain diligent with regards to the Draft Data Protection Law which could be introduced in 2023 and the applicability of the same on their employee data.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2022
Implementation of new data protection law
The Jordanian Government has proposed a draft Data Protection Law which will implement specific data protection legislation and regulate data protection in respect of online services and platforms, as well as regulating data protection more generally.
The draft Data Protection Law applies with respect to any personal data “dealings”, relating to individuals located in Jordan, even if the dealings are conducted outside of Jordan. It expressly requires the consent of any data owner in regards to dealings involving their personal data. In addition, the processor of such information must provide the data owner with certain pertinent information, including the purported purpose for which such data is used. The data owner has the opportunity to withdraw their consent in respect of dealings involving their personal data and has the right to request the deletion of personal data collected. Further, the draft Data Protection Law requires the processor of information to ensure that its systems are technically equipped with relevant data protection safeguards and obliges a processor to notify the relevant authority (a Personal Data Protection Board, to be established for such purposes) and users of any breaches to its systems.
Employers should familiarize themselves with these new obligations regarding the collection of employee information. Primarily, an employer must ensure that their employees’ data is properly protected, and must obtain their employees’ express consent in order to store, process, transfer and collect their data.
Renewed focus on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace and increasing female participation in the workforce
In 2020, the World Bank alongside the Ministry of Labour in Jordan issued a new requirement for companies to include a sexual harassment policy in their internal bylaws. A separate Code of Conduct was also published in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport in Jordan. The Jordanian Labour Law does not currently provide for any reporting mechanism or protections with regard to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Activists have been calling for:
- A reform of Article No. 29 of the Jordanian Labour Law. As part of this, they have requested that sexual harassment be clearly defined and have argued for the imposition of strict punishments against perpetrators of sexual harassment and protection against negative implications for victims; and
- The removal of Article No. 69 of the Jordanian Labour Law, which places restrictions on women in terms of working hours and professions. The provision in question currently prohibits women from working in the mining sector, for example, restricts women who are pregnant and/or nursing from access to certain professions and generally, bans women from working after 10pm at night.
These proposals are in line with the Jordanian Government’s vision to increase female participation in the workforce by year 2025. Employers should pay close attention to the developments in this respect and work towards ensuring full compliance with any legal changes implemented which may involve reviewing and updating internal policies and procedures.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2021
Increase of minimum wage
The tripartite committee established under the Ministry of Labour increased the minimum wage in Jordan to JOD 260 per month for Jordanian employees, and JOD 230 per month for non‑Jordanian employees as of 1 January 2021. An extension was granted to businesses falling within the most damaged sectors and sectors suspended from operation, as defined and specified from time to time in defence orders issued pursuant to the Defence Law No. (13) of 1992 (the "Defence Law") in consideration of the COVID‑19 pandemic, for the increase in minimum wage to be implemented by 1 June 2021.
Registration with the Social Securities Corporation
Any institution employing one employee or more shall be required to register their employees with the Social Securities Corporation. In addition, the Social Securities Corporation has started a new programme called "Istidama" for businesses and sectors most affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic and restricted from operating. The Istidama programme offers financial aid to businesses by paying their employee's salaries. A percentage of the employee's salary will be covered by the Social Security Corporation.
Defence Order No. (6) permits more flexible working arrangements
The Defence Order has been in place since 2010, however, with the current COVID‑19 situation the Defence Order No. (6) is a vital update that each client and potential client should keep in mind.
Defence Order No. (6), issued pursuant to the Defence Law, allows employers to convert existing contracts to flexible work contracts in order to facilitate more flexible working arrangements by accommodating for work‑from‑home mechanisms. In addition, Defence Order No. (6) has placed vast restrictions on the termination of employment contracts by the employer in an attempt to avoid a large increase in unemployment rates. To add to that, Defence Order No. (6) has allowed businesses and sectors that have been restricted from operating to decrease their employees' salaries as regulated and sanctioned from time to time through the issuance of further defence orders and declarations.