Workers excluded from labour protections
On 4 September 2020, Lebanon’s Labour Ministry adopted the new standard unified contract for migrant domestic workers, estimated at 250,000 in the country. Under the provisions, domestic workers were allowed to terminate their contract without the consent of their employer and were provided key labour guarantees already afforded to other workers, such as a 48-hour work week, a weekly rest day, overtime pay, sick pay, annual leave, and the national minimum wage, with some permissible deductions for housing and food.
However, on 30 October 2020, Lebanon’s State Shura Council, the country’s top administrative court, delivered a sharp blow to migrant domestic workers’ rights by suspending the implementation of a new standard unified contract. The Syndicate of the Owners of Recruitment Agencies submitted a complaint to the Shura Council on 21 September requesting that the council block and annul the labour minister’s decision and cap the permissible deductions an employer can make from a domestic worker’s salary – equivalent to the national minimum wage – at 30 per cent. The Shura Council ruled in favour of the recruitment agencies on the grounds that these decisions comprised “severe damage” to the agencies’ interests.