Armenia

August 2009

Labour Inspection Structure and organization

Name of institution that manages work issues

The Ministry of Labour and Social Issues (MOLSI) is the main national authority for labour and social matters.

Department(s) in charge of Labour Inspection

The State Labour Inspectorate (SLI) is the national competent body responsible for the implementation, control and enforcement of the labour legislation in Armenia. It is an external unit of the MOLSI along with the Employment State Services Agency and the Medical-Social Examination Agency.

The Medical-Social Examination Agency has as its main duties: delivering services in the medical-social field; medical-social examinations; and investigations and analysis of the loss of ability to work in case of accidents or diseases of any origin, defining the percentage of disability.

The State Hygiene and Anti-Еpidemic Inspectorate (SHAEI) under the Ministry of Health is in charge of registration and case study of occupational diseases, scientific research for the Ministry of Health, creation of hygienic profiles of the workplaces based on measurements of the factors of the working environment, as well as implementation of all the legislation on occupational health.

Other supervisory bodies are the State Rescue Service under the Ministry of Territorial Administration in charge of prevention and liquidation of emergencies, civil defense, fire safety, safety in industry and mining; the State Energy Inspection under the Ministry of Energy, in charge of state monitoring and supervision in the energy sphere; the State Food and Veterinary Inspection under the Ministry of Agriculture in charge of state monitoring and supervision of food safety; the State Agricultural Machinery Inspection under the Ministry of Agriculture in charge of the state monitoring and supervision of the safe operation of agricultural machinery and technologies; the State Nature Conservation Inspection under the Ministry of Nature Conservation in charge of nature conservation; the State Transport Inspection under the Ministry of Transport and Communications, responsible for state monitoring and supervision of transport safety; the State Nuclear and Radiation Safety Inspection under the Ministry of Energy in charge of supervision of facilities with nuclear and radiation hazards; and the State Taxation Authority, in charge of the supervision of taxes and social contributions.

Laws that cover organization and functional composition

• Law on State Labour Inspectorate (03/24/2005)

• Law on Regulation of Technical Safety (10/24/2005)

• Labour Code (12/21/2004, last amendment in 2008)

• Law on Organizing and Conducting Check-ups (05/17/2000)

Scope of labour inspection

The Law on State Labour Inspectorate defines the main rights and powers of the State Labour Inspectorate (SLI). The law regulates the tasks and authorities of labour inspectors, the structure of the state labour inspectorate, and the rights and duties of inspectors.

The SLI covers all institutions, organizations, including foreign ones, regardless of the organizational legal type, local self-government bodies, individual entrepreneurs and natural persons who are in labour relations.

According to article 9 of the Law on State Labour Inspectorate, its tasks are: assistance to the employers, trade unions and employees in receiving information on the application of more effective means and methods of enactment of the labour legislation and other legal acts containing labour right norms; ensuring preservation and protection of working conditions, labour rights and freedom of employees; prevention of violation of the labour legislation; and ensuring state control over the enactment of the labour legislation and other legal acts containing labour right norms.

Local divisions

The organization of the SLI is divided into central and territorial level. There are 11 territorial offices in Yerevan, Aragatsotn, Ararat, Armavir, Gegharkunik, Lori, Kotayk, Shirak, Syunik, Vayots Dzor and Tayush, each of them lead by a Head.

Programming and communication

There is a Labour Inspectorate Annual Plan decided by the Head of the SLI on the basis of the employers’ annual reports and approved by the MOLSI. The Plan contains no measurable objectives or figures, nor any budget needed for its implementation. It is decided at central level but Heads of the territorial offices can make suggestions.

At the end of each year the SLI writes an annual report which includes information about inspections, results of the inspections, administrative violations and the total amount of sanctions, sanctions imposed and collected, signed international or governmental agreements and amendments of the legislation. A full version of this annual report is published since last year on the SLI’s website. A short version of this report was reported to have been published in the republican newspapers.

Inspectors are bound to report monthly to the Head of the territorial office and every six months to the central level. The monthly report contains the number and date of the assigned orders, name, tax code and register number of the visited companies, kind of visit (planned or unplanned), result (sanctioning act or informative list), kind of violation, legal reference, date of the administrative decision, amount of the fines, amount of the paid fines and date of payment.

Current reforms

The Government of Norway is funding a technical cooperation project on Enhancing Labour Inspection Effectiveness, for improving, reinvigorating and modernizing the labour inspection system in Armenia within the framework of the already-ratified labour inspection Convention No. 81.

Human Resources and career development

Permanency of inspectors

In line with the Law on Civil Service of 4 December 2001, labour inspectors are civil servants. As such, each year at least one third of them, like all civil servants are subject to mandatory attestation. Regular attestation is carried out once every three years for each civil servant and extraordinary attestation is carried out on the basis of a reasoned decision.

There is firstly a documentary attestation in front of an Attestation Commission. As a result of this stage, the Attestation Commission may decide to confirm the civil servant in the position or to test the civil servant by writing and an interview. As a result of this second stage, the Attestation Commission may decide either to confirm the civil servant in the position, or to confirm him/her in the position on the condition of undergoing training, or not to confirm the civil servant in the position.

In addition, evaluation of all inspectors is made twice a year by each immediate superior. Extraordinary evaluation is also made in special cases.

Selection process

A vacant civil service position could be occupied through a two-stage competition in front of a Commission, although Article 12 of the Law on Civil Service permits also a direct appointment of a civil servant from the relevant body within seven days of occurrence of a vacation, without a competition, if the candidate meets the requirements of the profile for the position.

Background required

Applicants’ eligibility is determined according to four criteria: citizens of Armenia, fluency in Armenian language, minimum age of 18 and requirements for the given position, independently from their origin, race, gender, creed, political or any other convictions, property and other status.

The four levels of the civil service positions, including inspectors, are as follows: highest positions, chief positions, leading positions and junior positions (Article 7). The highest positions group consists of two subgroups I and II, while the other positions have three subgroups I, II and III respectively. Within each subgroup there are different classes.

The chief positions require a degree in sciences and up to 3 years of professional experience in the field or a higher education and 2 to 5 years of professional experience in the same field. Leading positions require higher education and up to 3 years of working experience. Junior positions require secondary education and no working experience is needed. The functions of the different positions are defined in the job description. It seems the tasks of the chief, leading and junior inspectors’ positions are almost the same but higher positions have stricter responsibilities. Junior positions cannot make inspection visits alone. Most of the inspectors have a degree in law or economics.

Visits and functions

Types of visits

Inspectors can visit in accordance with the above mentioned Annual Plan or following complaints. Complaints are submitted in a written form, not anonymously, and they initiated around five per cent of the total number of visits.

Before starting the visit process, inspectors are obliged to get an inspection order, issued by the Minister of Labour for planned inspections or by the Head of the SLI for inspections following complaints. The orders for the planned inspections are received by the territorial offices of the SLI once a month in a written form. No visit without an order is possible on inspectors’ own initiative, even in urgent cases.

Two copies of the inspection order are given to the employer three working days before starting the visit, except for special cases, inter alia, verifying compliance with the obligatory requirements for organizing lotteries, winning games, gambling houses and pawn-shops, control on carrying out business activities without state registration and on the compliance with the legal provisions for recruitment of employees. Usually inspectors make a first visit to the inspected entity with no checking activities but just to notify the employer that a second check-up will follow some days later.

The SLI is allowed to inspect the same economic entity not more than once a year, except for the above-mentioned special cases, for which the Law stipulates no obligatory advance notification of the employer. In those cases the SLI shall be entitled to conduct a double audit within a year. When the justification of starting a double audit fails to be proved or appears to be groundless, the inspector who presented the justification shall be subject to liability.

Role of preventive measures

Preventive measures play a central role in the work of labour inspectors. In case of revealing a violation of the labour legislation, the inspector gives a written notification (act) to the employer about the violation, including measures, which should be adopted for the elimination of the consequences and the deadline. If the employer does not correct the deficiencies within the given deadline or does not inform the inspector, a check-up inspection may be conducted although usually follow-up visits are not performed.

The employer can make objections to the inspector’s act in front of the Deputy of the Head, who after a discussion where the inspector and the employer presents evidence, makes a final decision. The fine shall be extended in 3 days and never later than two months after the commission. The employer has the right to appeal against the decisions of the labour inspector to the Head of the SLI, to the immediate superior or to the court. The deadline for the employer to pay the fine is 15 days. In case of non-payment, the case is sent to the court.

The Administrative Infraction Code defines different types of violations that can result in administrative fines. For most of the violations, the inspectors do not have discretionary powers to decide between a warning with a deadline for correction and imposing the fine.

Programming

Inspectors can visit in accordance with the above mentioned Annual Plan or following complaints. Complaints are submitted in a written form, not anonymously, and they initiated around five per cent of the total number of visits.

Inspectors cannot visit on their own initiative, just following a planned visit or in response to complaints, even in the cases of threat to the life and health of employees and during the investigation of accidents

Registries and reporting of accidents/diseases at work

According to Article 260 of the Labour Code the employee who suffered an accident or has an acute occupational disease at work and those who witnessed it, should immediately notify the head of their division, the employer and the department in charge of safety and health. Only if an employee dies at work and in cases of acute occupational diseases the employer should immediately inform the Office of the Prosecutor and the State Labour Inspectorate. Occupational diseases and accidents are subject to mandatory registration by the employer.

Subject to registration and internal investigation are accidents involving workers during the performance of their duties both on the grounds and outside the enterprise as well as during business trips, breaks, before and after the beginning of the work shift during the time required to put the equipment and tools and the means of individual protection in order, while traveling in the transport of the enterprise, city transport, if related to their occupational duties.

There is no registry of occupational accidents and diseases. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop a national-level register on occupational accidents and work-related diseases on a sex-disaggregated basis to allow a better analysis of trends, as well as planning visits and organizing campaigns for prevention purposes.

Sanction and administrative processes

The Administrative Infraction Code defines different types of violations that can result in administrative fines. For most of the violations, the inspectors do not have discretionary powers to decide between a warning with a deadline for correction and imposing the fine. The Law does not lay down objective criteria for grading the sanctions imposed.

Inspectors cannot fine on the spot. They can register the administrative violation and suggest the fine, but only Heads of territorial offices, Heads of Divisions and the Head of the SLI can start the administrative procedure depending on the amount of the fine.

If a labour inspector faces obstacles preventing him or her from accomplishing the inspection, the subject of the obstruction is fined with the amount of fifty times the minimum salary in the case of being a citizen, and one hundred times the minimum salary in case of public authorities.

Social dialogue and labour inspection

Social partners are aware of the important role of labour inspection in the implementation of the labour law, but there is lack of real knowledge on how to collaborate. They are calling for a more effective and dynamic inspection, expressing the need for more inspectors, deeper training, better planning, a more preventive system and culture of prevention. The trade union presence in SMEs and the private sector is still low, and participation by workers’ representatives in inspections conducted at the workplace is patchy.

ILO Conventions ratified

Armenia ratified Convention No. 81 in 2004.