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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Burundi


Termination of employment in Burundi is governed by the Burundi Labour Code, which outlines several valid reasons for an employer to end an employment contract. These include economic, financial, or technical reasons, serious misconduct, professional inaptitude, and force majeure.

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

Economic, Financial, or Technical Reasons: These are circumstances that necessitate a reduction in workforce or restructuring.

Serious Misconduct: This includes actions such as theft, fraud, breach of trust, acts of violence or serious threats within the workplace, habitual drunkenness or drug use during work hours, willful damage to company property, and disclosure of trade/business secrets.

Professional Inaptitude: This refers to repeated failure to perform duties adequately despite warnings and opportunities for improvement.

Force Majeure: These are unforeseeable events beyond the employer's control that make continuing the employment relationship impossible, such as natural disasters and acts of war.

Notice Requirements

The required notice period for termination in Burundi depends on an employee's length of service:

  • Less than 3 years of service: 1 month's notice
  • 3 to 5 years of service: 1.5 months' notice
  • 5 to 10 years of service: 2 months' notice
  • More than 10 years of service: 3 months' notice

These are minimum notice periods and may be extended by collective bargaining agreements or individual employment contracts. Notice periods cannot be waived, and the employer must pay the employee's regular wages during the notice period. In cases of serious misconduct, the employer may dismiss the employee without notice.

Severance Pay

Burundian law requires severance pay in certain cases of termination. The amount depends on the employee's length of service and reason for dismissal:

  • Dismissal for economic, financial, or technical reasons:
    • Less than 3 years of service: No severance required.
    • 3 to 5 years of service: One average monthly salary.
    • 5 to 10 years of service: Two average monthly salaries.
    • More than 10 years of service: Three average monthly salaries.

Severance is not required in cases of dismissal for serious misconduct, termination of employment contracts for a specific duration or task, or for employees on a trial/probationary period.

Additional Considerations

Employers must provide terminated employees with a certificate of employment detailing the start and end dates, nature of work performed, and reason for termination (if applicable). Employees also have the right to contest a dismissal they consider unjustified before the labor courts.


Burundi has made significant strides in combating discrimination, with several key legal instruments in place. The Constitution of Burundi (2005) guarantees equality before the law and equal protection for all citizens, expressly prohibiting discrimination based on sex, origin, race, ethnicity, religion, opinion, social status, or political affiliation.

Anti-Discrimination Laws

The Labor Code of Burundi prohibits discrimination in employment on grounds such as sex, race, ethnicity, religion, political opinion, social origin, HIV status, or family responsibilities. The Penal Code of Burundi criminalizes various discriminatory acts, including incitement to racial, religious, or ethnic hatred.

Protected Characteristics

Anti-discrimination laws in Burundi protect individuals from discrimination based on characteristics such as sex, race, ethnicity, religion, political opinion, social origin, HIV status, and family responsibilities.

Redress Mechanisms

Victims of discrimination in Burundi can pursue redress through litigation, the National Human Rights Commission, or Labor Tribunals. Litigation involves filing a lawsuit in civil court to seek damages or injunctive relief. Criminal charges may also be applicable in cases where discrimination constitutes a criminal offense. The National Human Rights Commission has the authority to investigate complaints of discrimination and to mediate disputes. Employees alleging workplace discrimination under the Labor Code may file a complaint with a labor tribunal.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Burundi are legally obligated to prevent discrimination, provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities or those who require accommodations due to religious beliefs, address harassment based on protected characteristics, and provide training to employees on anti-discrimination laws and workplace policies. It's crucial for both employers and employees to stay updated on the evolving legal landscape regarding discrimination in Burundi.

Working conditions

Burundi's Labour Code of 2020 (articles 130-149) outlines regulations for working conditions, including working hours, rest periods, and ergonomic requirements.

Working Hours

In Burundi, the legislation establishes a standard workweek, with limitations on daily and weekly working hours:

  • Standard Workweek: The typical workweek in Burundi is 40 hours, spread across five days.
  • Daily Limits: Daily working hours are generally capped at eight hours, with exceptions permitted under collective bargaining agreements.

Rest Periods

The regulations in Burundi mandate designated rest periods for workers to prevent fatigue and ensure well-being:

  • Daily Rest: Employees are entitled to a minimum of one uninterrupted 24-hour rest period per week, typically on Sundays.
  • Breaks: Rest breaks throughout the workday are mandated by law, though the specific duration may vary depending on the industry and workload.

Ergonomic Requirements

The Labour Code acknowledges the importance of ergonomics in preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). While specific regulations are not explicitly mentioned, employers are generally expected to:

  • Workstation Design: Facilitate proper workstation design that minimizes physical strain on employees. This may involve providing adjustable furniture and promoting proper posture.
  • Material Handling: Implement safe material handling practices to reduce the risk of injuries from lifting and carrying heavy objects.

Health and safety

Burundi's Labour Code of 2020 (articles 316-336) outlines a comprehensive framework that prioritizes worker well-being. This guide explores key aspects of occupational safety and health (OSH) regulations, including employer obligations, employee rights, and enforcement mechanisms.

Employer Obligations

In Burundi, employers hold significant responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. Here are some core obligations:

  • Compliance: Employers must adhere to all health and safety regulations set forth by the Burundian government.
  • Safety Training: Providing periodic safety training to employees is mandatory. This training equips workers with the knowledge and skills to prevent accidents and occupational illnesses.
  • Occupational Health Services: Employers must establish or facilitate access to occupational health services within the workplace or a nearby location. These services offer preventive measures, health monitoring, and intervention strategies.
  • Health and Safety Committee: In specific establishments, employers may be required to establish a Health and Safety Committee. This committee plays a crucial role in:
    • Monitoring adherence to safety and hygiene regulations.
    • Identifying potential health and safety hazards.
    • Proposing preventative measures.
    • Responding to workplace accidents.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers are obligated to provide free PPE to workers, ensuring its suitability for the specific work environment and tasks.

Employee Rights

In Burundi, employees are not merely passive recipients of safety measures. They possess crucial rights under the Labour Code:

  • Safe Work Environment: Employees have the fundamental right to work in an environment free from foreseeable risks to their health and safety.
  • Information and Training: Employees have the right to be informed about potential risks associated with their work and receive proper training on safe work practices.
  • Refusal of Unsafe Work: Employees have the right to refuse work that they reasonably believe presents an imminent danger to their health or safety.
  • Compliance with Safety Regulations: Employees have a responsibility to adhere to established health and safety regulations and utilize provided PPE appropriately.

Enforcement Agencies

The Labour Inspectorate, a government body, is tasked with enforcing workplace safety and health regulations. Inspectors have the authority to:

  • Conduct workplace inspections to identify safety hazards and non-compliance issues.
  • Issue citations and impose penalties on employers who violate OSH regulations.
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