Promoting the role of Public Notaries in ensuring rights-based employment between employers and migrant domestic workers in Lebanon

The ILO has launched a new partnership with the Public Notaries Council Office in Lebanon, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, to provide training to all public notaries on their role in helping to regulate the domestic work sector.

News | 19 December 2018
BEIRUT (ILO News) There are more than 190 public notaries in Lebanon - public officers supervised by the Ministry of Justice, who are authorised to handle a range of activities relating to the authentication of documents, including authenticating the signature of the employment contract between domestic workers and employers.

A partnership between the Public Notaries Council Office, the Ministry of Labour and ILO to raise the capacity of public notaries to ensure that employers and workers understand the terms of the employment contract commenced on 30 November 2018 with a pilot training for public notaries in Beirut. More than 46 public notaries attended, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Labour, SORAL ("Syndicate of the Owners of the Female Housemaid Employment Agencies), General Security, and the ILO.

“We as public notaries need to do everything we can for the public interest. We know that the employment contract may often be signed by a domestic worker without understanding its contents, because it is in Arabic only, and this is unfair to the worker,” said Mr Joseph Becharra, President of the Public Notaries Council. “We need to help domestic workers in understanding their rights and duties specified in the contract.”

Reflecting on the role of the Ministry of Labour to ensure respect for human rights, and to maintain justice between the parties, Ms Denise Dahrouj, the Chief of the International Affairs Department of the Ministry of Labour noted that the Ministry had translated the standard unified contract into several languages. Ms Dahrouj urged public notaries to share these in their respective offices. Additionally, noted Ms Dahrouj, “we need to fight every violation in order to meet international standards, and I recommend to inform the Ministry of Labour in case any public notary witnesses any behaviour suggesting an abusive employment relationship”.

The training sessions are intended to sensitize public notaries on the terms of the standard unified contract, and their role in ensuring that both parties understand the terms before signing. The training will be rolled out to public notaries across the country, with regional sessions planned in early 2019. The collaboration between the Public Notaries Council Office in Lebanon, the Ministry of Labour and the ILO is being facilitated by the ILO’s Regional Fair Migration Project in the Middle East (FAIRWAY).