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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Afghanistan


The Afghanistan Labor Code (1999) outlines permissible reasons for employment termination. These include mutual agreement, contract expiration, retirement, death, disability, extended absence, company closure or redundancy, conviction and imprisonment, and disciplinary reasons.

Notice Requirements

In the case of employer-initiated termination, the employer is generally obligated to provide one month's written notice when terminating an employee for reasons other than disciplinary grounds. Immediate termination may be permissible during a probationary period or if the employee has significantly violated the terms of their employment contract. On the other hand, an employee can terminate an indefinite-term contract with one month's written notice. They may terminate without notice if the employer has breached the contract or labor laws.

Severance Pay

Severance pay in Afghanistan is not always guaranteed by law. The Afghan Labor Code does not explicitly mandate severance pay in most cases. However, severance may be due in situations of redundancy or company closure. It's recommended that severance terms be clearly outlined within the employment contract to avoid potential disputes.


The Constitution of Afghanistan (2004) enshrines fundamental anti-discrimination principles. Article 22 states: "Any kind of discrimination and distinction between the citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden." Despite the political complexity, Afghanistan lacks a comprehensive anti-discrimination law specifically detailing protected characteristics. However, several legal instruments offer some guidance.

Protected Characteristics

  • Gender: The Afghan Constitution and its ratification of the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) imply some protection against gender-based discrimination.
  • Disability: The Law on the Rights and Privileges of Persons with Disabilities (2013) prohibits discrimination on the grounds of disability.

Redress Mechanisms

Available redress mechanisms for victims of discrimination in Afghanistan are limited and complex:

  • Labor Disputes: The Labor Code outlines a dispute resolution process for issues arising within the workplace, potentially including discrimination complaints.
  • Constitutional Complaints: In theory, individuals can bring complaints of rights violations, like discrimination, to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). However, the AIHRC's effectiveness is hindered by the current political climate.
  • International Mechanisms: Filing complaints through international bodies like CEDAW could be an option, although enforcement of resolutions remains challenging.

Employer Responsibilities

Despite limited specific regulations, Afghan employers have implicit duties stemming from the Constitution and other labor laws:

  • Non-discrimination: Employers should avoid any form of discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotion, compensation, and termination processes.
  • Reasonable Accommodation: Employers should provide reasonable adjustments, where possible, for individuals with disabilities to facilitate their participation in the workplace.
  • Harassment Prevention: Employers have a responsibility to cultivate a work environment free from harassment and to implement policies addressing prohibited conduct.

Important Considerations

Anti-discrimination regulations in Afghanistan are evolving and can be inconsistent due to the political situation. It is advisable to seek specialized legal advice for addressing individual discrimination cases, as the process is complex.

Working conditions

The Afghan Labor Code (1999) sets the standards for working conditions in Afghanistan, outlining work hours, rest periods, and ergonomic considerations.

Work Hours

The standard workweek in Afghanistan is 40 hours, with a maximum of eight hours per day. However, for employees aged 15-18 years old and pregnant women, working hours are reduced to 35 hours per week. For work considered particularly arduous or conducted in hazardous environments, the workweek may be further reduced.

Rest Periods

Employees are entitled to a minimum of one hour of rest during the workday. Additionally, all employees are entitled to one full day of rest per week, typically Friday.

Ergonomic Requirements

The Afghan Labor Code does not explicitly mention ergonomic requirements, but it does emphasize workplace safety. Article 32 states, "The employer shall adopt all necessary measures to safeguard the health and safety of the workers." This implies that employers have a responsibility to provide a work environment that minimizes the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and promotes worker well-being.

It's important to note that enforcement mechanisms for these regulations can be weak. Therefore, it's advisable for employers to consult with health and safety professionals to implement best practices for ergonomic design in the workplace.

Health and safety

Afghanistan's legal framework for workplace health and safety (OHS) is evolving, with several key regulations already in place. These regulations outline employer obligations, employee rights, and the enforcement landscape.

Employer Obligations

According to the Afghan Labor Code (1999), employers have several core obligations regarding OHS:

  • Safe Work Environment: Employers must establish and maintain a workplace free from foreseeable hazards.
  • Risk Assessments: Employers should conduct risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential safety and health risks in the workplace.
  • Provision of PPE: Employers are responsible for providing personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriate for the specific job tasks.
  • Safety Training: Employers have a duty to train employees on safe work practices and emergency procedures.

Employee Rights

The Labor Code also empowers employees with OHS-related rights:

  • Refusal of Unsafe Work: Employees have the right to refuse work they believe is unsafe and poses an imminent threat to their health.
  • Safe Work Practices: Employees have the right to work in an environment where safe work practices are implemented.
  • Reporting Unsafe Conditions: Employees can report unsafe work conditions to the relevant authorities.

Enforcement Agencies

The enforcement landscape for OHS regulations in Afghanistan is complex:

  • Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA): The MoLSA is responsible for overseeing labor inspections, including those related to OHS. However, resource constraints may limit their effectiveness.
  • Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG): The IDLG plays a role in coordinating OHS efforts at the provincial level.

Additional Considerations

  • While a dedicated OHS regulatory body doesn't currently exist, international organizations like the ILO collaborate with Afghanistan on strengthening its OHS framework.
  • Limited resources, coupled with ongoing political developments, can hinder consistent OHS enforcement.
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