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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Eritrea


In Eritrea, the termination of employment contracts is governed by the Labour Proclamation of 2001 (Proclamation No. 118/2001).

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

The Labour Proclamation outlines specific instances where an employer can lawfully terminate an employment contract:

  • With Employee Consent: Mutual agreement between the employer and employee to end the contract.
  • Completion of Contract: When a fixed-term contract ends.
  • Unsatisfactory Performance: Consistent poor performance by the employee after warnings.
  • Disciplinary Reasons: Serious misconduct, breaches of contract terms, or violation of company regulations.
  • Redundancy: Job elimination due to economic, structural, or technological reasons.
  • Illness or Disability: Prolonged illness or disability rendering the employee unable to perform their duties.

Notice Requirements

Unless terms within a specific employment contract state otherwise, the Labour Proclamation sets out the following notice periods for both employers and employees:

  • Less than one year of service: 7 days' notice.
  • One to two years of service: 14 days' notice
  • Two to five years of service: 21 days' notice
  • Over five years of service: 30 days' notice

Severance Pay

Employees who are dismissed (excluding dismissals for serious misconduct) are entitled to severance pay. The calculation is based on the length of service:

  • Completed one year or more: Two weeks' wages for each of the first five years of service.
  • After the fifth year to the tenth year: Three weeks' wages for each year of service.
  • After the tenth year: Four weeks' wages for each year of service.

Important Considerations:

  • Employees dismissed on grounds of serious misconduct are not entitled to severance pay.
  • Employers and employees can negotiate different terms regarding termination and severance pay within the employment contract, provided those terms don't fall below the minimum standards set by the Labour Proclamation.


Eritrea's Constitution and subsequent legal codes offer protections from discrimination based on several characteristics. These include race and ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, and other factors. Discrimination against the nine recognized ethnic groups within Eritrea is prohibited. The Eritrean Constitution explicitly states that all persons enjoy equal rights, regardless of their gender. Freedom of religion is guaranteed under the Constitution, which also safeguards against religious discrimination. Eritrea has laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination. The Constitution makes a general provision against discrimination based on "any other improper factors". This could potentially be interpreted to include sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and other characteristics, although this hasn't been firmly established in legal precedent.

Redress Mechanisms

Eritrea lacks a robust and well-defined system for individuals to lodge formal complaints and seek redress for discrimination. However, there are some potential avenues. In cases of workplace discrimination, employees might initially approach their employer's Human Resources department or designated supervisors to seek internal resolution. Individuals may file legal cases related to discrimination in Eritrean courts. However, the independence and effectiveness of the judicial system are areas of concern. The National Union of Eritrean Workers (NUEW) may provide advocacy and support to workers facing discrimination, although its influence and reach are restricted. In some cases, international human rights bodies might be a recourse for victims of discrimination if Eritrean systems fail to provide justice.

Employer Responsibilities

Eritrean employers have a legal and ethical responsibility to uphold anti-discrimination principles. Key responsibilities include developing and implementing clear policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics. They should communicate these policies to all employees and conduct training to foster an understanding of anti-discrimination principles. They should ensure that hiring, promotion, compensation, and disciplinary procedures are conducted fairly and without discrimination. They should establish a system for addressing complaints of discrimination promptly and effectively, including clear procedures for investigation and resolution.

Enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in Eritrea is a major concern. There are challenges regarding the independence of the legal system and societal pressures that can hinder individuals from pursuing justice. It is crucial to be aware of these limitations when considering the legal framework surrounding anti-discrimination in Eritrea.

Working conditions

Eritrea's working conditions are complex due to inconsistent enforcement of legal frameworks.

Work Hours and Rest Periods

The standard workweek in Eritrea is 48 hours, with a daily maximum of 8 hours. Eritrean labor law mandates weekly rest periods and breaks throughout the workday, but specific details are scarce. There are concerns regarding exceeding these limitations, particularly in informal sectors.

Ergonomic Requirements

Publicly available information on specific ergonomic requirements in Eritrean workplaces is limited. Reports suggest a lack of proper safety gear and machinery maintenance in some sectors, raising ergonomic concerns.

It's important to note that the Eritrean government mandates a national service program. This program, however, has been criticized for elements that may not comply with international labor standards.

For further information and updates on labor laws and regulations in Eritrea, it's advisable to consult the Eritrean Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (if information is available in English) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) reports on Eritrea.

Health and safety

Eritrea has established a legal framework for occupational safety and health (OSH), but the enforcement of these regulations remains a challenge.

Employer Obligations

Under the Eritrean Labour Proclamation (Proclamation No. 118/2001), employers have specific obligations to ensure workplace health and safety. These obligations include:

  • Taking all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of employees. This includes providing a safe work environment, proper training, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Complying with OSH standards and directives set by the Eritrean government.

Employee Rights

Eritrean workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. This includes the right to:

  • Be informed about potential hazards in the workplace.
  • Refuse unsafe work without facing repercussions.
  • Participate in OSH consultations with employers. This includes the right to have representatives from outside the workplace address OSH concerns.

Enforcement Agencies

The Eritrean Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is responsible for enforcing OSH regulations. However, the capacity for effective enforcement remains limited. The International Labour Organization (ILO) offers technical assistance to Eritrea to improve its OSH framework.


Despite the legal framework, there are concerns regarding the implementation of OSH regulations due to:

  • Limited resources for enforcement by the Ministry of Labor.
  • Lack of awareness among employers and employees about their rights and obligations regarding OSH.
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