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Morocco: Law Aimed at Protecting Domestic Workers Adopted

(Apr. 20, 2017) On August 10, 2016, the King of Morocco issued a decree approving the Law on Fixing the Conditions of Employing and Employment of Female and Male Domestic Workers.  The Law will come into effect, pursuant to its article 27, “one year after the necessary texts needed for its implementation have been published in the official gazette”; that is, August 22, 2017.  (Royal Decree 1.16.121 of August 10, 2016, OFFICIAL GAZETTE, No. 6493 (Aug. 22, 2016), Secretariat General of the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco website (in Arabic).)

The most significant features of the new Law are as follows.

  • The employment of domestic workers must be evidenced by a written contract, one copy of which must be deposited with the relevant employment inspection department (id. art. 3).
  • The employer must inform the worker of any contagious disease the employer or any of his family members has contracted and the worker must similarly inform the employer of any contagious disease the worker has contracted (id. art. 5).
  • The minimum age of employment for domestic workers is 18 years. However, during the first five years from the date of implementation of the Law, the employment of workers between 16 and 18 years old is allowed, provided that the worker has an authenticated written permission document signed by his or her guardian to that effect (id. art. 6).
  • The working hours for domestic workers will be 48 hours per week, but only 40 hours per week for those between 16 and 18 years old (id. art. 13). Each worker must have a continuous weekly rest period of at least 24 hours (id. art. 14). For a period of one year from the date of resuming work after giving birth to a child, a female domestic worker will be entitled to an additional rest period of one hour per day for breast-feeding (id. art. 15).
  • The Law requires the minimum wage for domestic workers to be not less than 60% of the regular minimum wage set for other industries, and the worker is entitled to severance pay if the employment lasts for one or more years (id. arts. 19 & 20, respectively).

Reactions to the Law

Human Rights Watch has praised the new Law.  Ahmed Benchemsi, its Middle East and North Africa communications and advocacy director, said: “[t]his new law is groundbreaking for domestic workers in Morocco, so many of whom have been exploited and abused.”  (Morocco: New Law Advances Domestic Workers’ Rights, Human Rights Watch website (Aug. 1, 2016).) He also said,

Despite the limitations of the new law, however, it will provide legal protection for the first time to some of the country’s most vulnerable workers. This is a real success, for which we should congratulate the government and also—perhaps especially—Moroccan nongovernmental organizations that campaigned for this ground-breaking reform for many years.  (Domestic Workers Finally Have Rights in Morocco, Human Rights Watch website (Aug. 9, 2016).)

But Insaf, a Moroccan non-governmental organization, has criticized the Law for allowing the employment of workers between 16 and 18 years old for a transitional period of five years, contending it would allow the exploitation of child domestic workers for that period.  “For unexplained and inexplicable reasons, upon the proposal of the minister of Employment, lawmakers voted in Article 6 of the law a five-year period during which the exploitation of minors is permitted.”  (Saad Guerraoui, Controversial Domestic Labour Bll Adopted in Morocco, ARAB WEEKLY (June 19, 2016).) Under the Labor Code of Morocco the minimum age of employment is 15 years.  (Law 65.99 of 2003, art. 143, Ministry of Justice ADALA MAROC portal (in Arabic).)