Campaign launches to promote Palestinian women’s rights at work

The ILO has supported the development of the “Rights of Palestinian Women at Work” campaign, to improve the working conditions of women in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in relation to discrimination at work.

Press release | 28 September 2016
NABLUS, occupied Palestinian territory (ILO News) – The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and the National Women’s Employment Committee (NWEC) this week launched the “Rights of Palestinian Women at Work” campaign, with the support of the ILO.

The awareness raising campaign aims to improve the working conditions of women in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in relation to discrimination at work.

Organizers developed a guidebook, an information leaflet and a series of posters in Arabic on work-related entitlements of women and girls in the territory, including pay, leave, social security and occupational safety and health entitlements.

The campaign and accompanying materials outline women’s rights at work in the Palestinian territory in a number of areas:

Working hours and the right to rest

No employer can force any worker, regardless of gender, to work more than the weekly 45 hours specified by Palestinian Labour Law. If the work is hazardous or contains overnight shifts, the working hours are reduced by one hour per day. An employee who works for six consecutive days is entitled to a paid weekly rest of at least one day.

Leave entitlements

Women workers in the Palestinian territory are entitled to paid maternity leave of 10 weeks (70 days), of which 6 are postnatal, as well as to nursing breaks during work hours. It is prohibited to dismiss a woman worker while she is on maternity leave. All workers are entitled to leave linked to illness or bereavement, as well as for national holidays.

Labour rights of girls and minors

The minimum legal working age in the occupied Palestinian territory is 15, and employers are prohibited from hiring children below this age. Working children between the ages of 15 and 18 are considered minor workers and enjoy specific rights, such as regular health checks and reduced working hours. Importantly, all forms of remuneration should go to the minor workers themselves.

Domestic workers’ rights

Domestic workers enjoy specific labour rights under Palestinian law. They are entitled to financial remuneration for their work at no less than minimum wage, to paid leave, and to a formal work contract written in Arabic and accredited by the Ministry of Labour. The employer is responsible for providing insurance against work injuries and occupational illnesses.

The right to occupational safety and health

All workers enjoy the right to occupational safety and basic health at work. These rights include regular medical examinations at the expense of the employer, protective equipment for employees exposed to occupational hazards, and access to basic health provisions such as safe drinking water and a first aid kit.

Professions closed to women

Palestinian Labour Law prohibits the employment of women in certain industries, such as mining, forestry, manufacturing or processing of asphalt, and the alcohol industry. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are prohibited from working in occupations that expose them to various hazardous environments, such as working with metal and glass smelting furnaces, in fertilizer and rubber production industries, and in industries using mercury.

Rights of women working in seasonal agriculture

Women who work in the seasonal agricultural sector have several rights, including the right to organize in a trade union. Additionally, they are entitled to a weekly day of rest after 6 consecutive working days, as well as to sick leave and one day of annual paid leave per month of work. Although working hours can be irregular, they should not exceed twelve hours per day.

Termination of employment

In the event of the termination of a fixed-term employment contract, workers have several entitlements under Palestinian Labour Law. For instance, the employer should give one month’s notice, and the worker is entitled to end-of-service benefits equivalent to one month’s pay for each year of work. Workers who resign are also covered by several legal entitlements.

Penalties and disciplinary measures

Multiple conditions must be met when penalizing an employee for professional misconduct during working hours. These conditions include the existence of a professional relationship through an oral or written contract, as well as a list of consequences for misconduct that is agreed between the employer and the employee and approved by the Ministry of Labour. The transgression must also be work-related and must have taken place during work hours; and the penalty must be proportional to the transgression. Penalties can include oral and written warnings, pay reduction, and suspension or termination of contract.