Contributed by Angelika Muller, Social Dialogue, Labour Law and Labour Administration Branch, ILO. Last update, August 2006.
The Republic of Armenia is a landlocked mountainous country located in the Southwest of the Trans Caucasus, covering a surface area of 29.8 km2. The State language is Armenian and the city of Yerevan is the country’s capital and administrative centre. Armenia boasts a population of about 3210.6 (October, 2001), of which 97% are Armenian. The Armenian Apostolic Church is the national church of the Armenian people. Armenia is rich in mineral resources and its favourable geographic position contributes to the diversity of its flora and fauna.
The roots of the Armenian statehood dates back to the late 12th century B.C. After losing its independence in the 14th century, the Armenian people struggled for centuries to regain freedom and re-establish national statehood. The first independent Republic of Armenia was established on 28 May 1918. From 1920 to 1991, Armenia formed part of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
On 28 August 1990, to exercise the right of nations to free self-determination, the Supreme Council of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) adopted the Armenian Declaration of Independence. This legal act was based on the joint decision of the Armenian SSR Supreme Council and the Artsakh National Council on the "Reunification of the Armenian SSR and the Mountainous Region of Karabakh" of 1 December 1989.
Through this Declaration, the Armenian people expressed their intention to start the process of establishing an independent statehood, and positioning the question of the creation of a democratic society based on the rule of law. The Armenian SSR was renamed the Republic of Armenia (Armenia) and the words "Soviet" and "Socialist' removed from the name of the country. The Republic of Armenia was declared a self-governing State, endowed with the supremacy of State authority, independence, sovereignty, and plenipotentiary power.
During the referendum held on 21 September 1991, the majority of the Armenian people responded positively to the creation of the Republic of Armenia separate from the USSR. On 23 September 1991, the Supreme Council proclaimed the Republic of Armenia an independent State.
On 21 December 1991, Armenia became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), composed of 11 former USSR Republics. The declaration of its establishment was signed in Alma-Ata, the capital of Kazakhstan.
After more than 15 years of the existence of the Third Republic in Armenia, economic reforms have been initiated for transition to a market-based economy and new legislative frameworks have been adopted to create an institutional basis for democratic State governance.
The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia (CRA) was adopted on 5 July 1995. This is the fourth Constitution in the history of Armenia.
The Republic of Armenia is a sovereign, democratic State, based on social justice and the rule of law (Art. 1 of the CRA). The elections of the President, the National Assembly and local self-governing bodies of the Republic of Armenia, as well as referenda, are held based on the right to universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot (Art. 3 of the CRA). State power is exercised in accordance with the Constitution and the laws based on the principle of the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers (Art. 5 of the CRA).
The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia has supreme juridical force, and its provisions are directly applicable. Laws or any juridical acts found to contradict the Constitution bear no legal force. Laws take effect only after official publication. Unpublished juridical acts pertaining to human rights, freedom, and duties have no legal force. International treaties that have been ratified are a constituent part of the legal system of the Republic. If standards provided in these treaties are other than those provided by laws of the Republic, then the provisions of the treaty prevail. International treaties that contradict the Constitution may be ratified after making a corresponding amendment to the Constitution (Art. 6 of the CRA).
Ideological pluralism and the multiparty system are both recognized in the Republic of Armenia (Art. 7 of the CRA). The church remains separate. (Art. 8.1 of the CRA).
The President of the Republic of Armenia is the head of the State (Art. 49). He/she is elected by the citizens of the Republic of Armenia for a five-year term and is not eligible for re-election for more than two consecutive terms (Art. 50 of the CRA).
Legislative power in the Republic of Armenia is vested in the National Assembly (Art. 62 of the CRA). The National Assembly, consisting of 131 deputies, is elected for a term of five years (Art. 63 of the CRA). The right to legislative initiative in the National Assembly belongs to the Deputies and the Government (Art. 75 of the CRA).
The CRA provides for several guarantees, such as freedom of association, freedom to choose a profession, maternity protection, and the right to rest. Detailed information is presented in the subsequent relevant sections.
The labour legislative framework in the Republic of Armenia is contained in the Constitution, as well as the Labour Code and other legal acts in the social and economic field.
The main inspiration of labour regulation is provided in the constitutional provisions. Article 48 2) of the CAR emphasizes that the basic tasks of the State in the economic, social and cultural spheres is, first and foremost, to contribute to employment and the improvement of working conditions for the population.
The freedom to choose a profession is guaranteed, as well as the right to working conditions that are in compliance with safety and hygiene requirements (Art. 32 of the CAR). Forced labour is prohibited.
A worker retains the right to social security whether it be in old age, for disability, loss of main wage earner, unemployment and other cases prescribed by the law (Art. 37 of the CAR).
In accordance with Article 39 of the CAR, “all citizens have the right to free superior and professional education in State superior and other professional educational institutions on the basis of competition as prescribed by law. In cases and in conformity with the procedure prescribed by law, the State provides financial and other assistance to institutions as well as their students conducting superior and other professional education programs”.
The Labour Code of the Republic of Armenia (LC) was adopted on 9 November 2004. It consists of three parts, 24 chapters and 266 articles. The Labour Code deals with various aspects of collective and individual labour relations.1
Among legal acts, which supplement or further develop the provisions of the LC, the following, inter alia, may be cited (in chronological order):
- The Civil Code, 1998;
- The Trade Unions Act, 2000;
- The Civil Service Act, 2001;
- The Employment Wages Act, 2001;
- The Act on Public Associations, 2001;
- The Act on Remuneration of Civil Servants, 2002;
- The Minimum Wage Act, 2004.
Contracts of employment
Article 83 of the LC defines the contract of employment as an agreement between an employee and an employer, according to which the employee undertakes to perform work of a certain profession, qualification or to perform specific duties in accordance with the work regulations established at the workplace. The employer undertakes to provide the employee with the work specified in the contract of employment, to pay him/her the agreed wages and to ensure working conditions as set out in labour legislation of the Republic of Armenia, other legal acts, collective agreements and the agreement between the parties.
A contract of employment should not contain any condition less favourable to workers than those stipulated by labour law. If a contract of employment contains such provisions, they are deemed invalid (Article 6 of the LC).
Article 84 of the LC lists the compulsory content of any contract of employment and they are required to be in writing (Article 85 of the LC).
Articles 91 to 93 of the LC regulate the probation period, which may be stipulated, under certain conditions, on the conclusion of the contract of employment. During the probation, all provisions of labour legislation apply to the worker concerned. In principle, the duration of the probation period should not exceed three months, although, in certain cases, Armenian legislation may establish a probation period of up to six months. During the probation period, both parties of the contract of employment, e.g. employer and employee, are entitled to terminate the contract with a three-day written notice.
According to Article 94 of the LC, contracts of employment are concluded:
- either for an indefinite period of time (in the absence of any provisions limiting its validity), or
- for a fixed term (the contract specifies the duration of its validity).
Article 95 of the LC provides some detailed limitations for the use of fixed-term employment contracts. Article 97 to 101 of the LC details other types of contracts of employment, namely, for home, seasonal and temporary work.
Chapter 15 of the LC (Articles 109 to 130) regulates in a detailed manner the termination of employment.
The contract of employment may be terminated by mutual agreement of both parties, provided that a seven-day written notice is respected (Article 110 of the LC).
A fixed-term contract of employment is terminated on its expiration (Article 111 of the LC). Before the date of expiration, both parties should comply with the requirement of ten-day written notice.
The termination of a contract of employment may intervene at the initiative of the worker (Article 112 of the LC) or at the initiative of the employer (Article 113 of the LC). The power of the employer is, however, limited, in particular during temporary absence of the worker such as for sick or annual leave.
Some protection in case of dismissal is guaranteed to the workers with family responsibilities (Article 117 of the LC).
The employer is not entitled to dismiss an elected representative of the workers without prior consent of the labour inspector. (Article 119 of the LC).
In case of collective dismissals, the employer has to inform the State Employment Service and the workers' representative three months in advance. Redundancies are deemed collective if they concern, during the period of two consecutive months, the termination of employment for more than ten per cent of the whole number of workers, but not less than ten people (Article 116 of the LC).
Hours of works
Chapter 17 (Articles 137 to 149) of the LC deals with working time.
Article 139 of the LC provides that the normal duration of the working time should not exceed 40 hours a week, or eight hours per day.
The maximum duration, including overtime work carried out at the request of the employer, should never exceed 48 hours per week and 12 hours per day.
A reduced duration of working time concerns, in particular, young workers (see below) and night workers (Article 140 of the LC).
Overtime is strictly regulated, namely some limitations are introduced for young and disabled workers, workers with family responsibilities, or work in hazardous conditions (Article 144 of the LC). Overtime should not exceed four hours during two consecutive working days and 120 hours per year (Article 146 of the LC).
Article 33 of the CAR provides that “everyone has the right to rest. The law defines the maximum working hours, holidays, as well as the minimum length of annual leave.”
Articles 158 to 170 of the LC are devoted to paid leave regulation. There are three types of annual paid leave – minimum, extended and additional.
The minimum annual paid leave in Armenia is 28 days (Article 159 of the LC).
Extended and additional paid annual leave of up to 35 days (or up to 48 days in some exceptional cases) are granted to workers performing work in hazardous conditions, or in conditions of intellectual or emotional stress. A list of professions and positions where extended or additional paid leave is mandated is established by the Government of the Republic of Armenia (Articles 160 and 161of the LC).
Maternity protection and maternity leave
Article 35 of the Armenian Constitution provides that “dismissal for reasons connected with maternity is prohibited. Every female employee during pregnancy and childbirth has the right to paid maternity leave and parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child.”
Article 117 of the LC guarantees that contracts of employment for pregnant women and women with children in their care cannot be terminated in the following circumstances:
- in the case of pregnant women - from the day in which the employer receives a medical certificate confirming pregnancy to the end of the month following the pregnancy leave;
- in the case of women with children aged less than one year in their care, except for cases specified by the LC, such as bankruptcy of the employer.
In accordance with Article 172 of the LC, women are entitled to pre- and postnatal leave while retaining whole remuneration:
- 140 days (70 days of pregnancy, 70 days after the delivery);
- 155 days (70 days of pregnancy, 85 days after the delivery) in case of complicated delivery;
- 180 days (70 days of pregnancy, 110 days after the delivery) in the event of twins, triplets etc.
At the request of the employee, leave for childcare is granted until the child reaches the age of three. This may also be taken by the father of the child, stepmother, stepfather, or any relative who is in charge of the child (Article 173 of the LC).
Pregnant women and women caring for children under one year of age can be sent on business trips only with upon their consent (Article 209 of the LC).
Some limitations are introduced in order to protect pregnant women and women caring for children younger than one year old. In particular, it is prohibited to employ such workers in hazardous conditions and the like, as detailed in list by the Government of the Republic of Armenia (Article 258 of the LC).
Other leave entitlements
Article 174 of the LC provides for leave to be taken for the study/preparation of examinations in institutions of vocational or higher education.
Leave is granted to workers in case of State or public duties, such as elected positions or expert requested by the court (Article 175 of the LC).
Unpaid leave is allowed for the events listed in Article 176 of the LC, i.e. three days are granted for a marriage or funeral of a family member.
Minimum age and protection of young workers
In Armenia, persons under the age of 16 are not permitted to engage in full time employment (Art. 32 of the CAR).
In accordance with Article 17 of the LC, it is prohibited to employ a person under the age of 14. The contract of employment may be concluded for persons between 14-16 years of age provided that written authorization is given by at least one parent or legal guardian.
Article 140 of the LC establishes reduced hours of work for young workers. The working time for workers aged between14-16 years is 24 hours per week, and 36 hours per week for workers aged between 16-18 years.
It is prohibited to send persons under eighteen years of age on business trips (Article 209 of the LC); as well as to employ persons under the age of eighteen in hazardous conditions as specified in list by the Government of the Republic of Armenia (Article 257 of the LC).
The principle of equal treatment is laid down as a fundamental right in Article 14.1 of the Armenian Constitution. According to this text, “everyone is equal before the law. Any discrimination based on any grounds such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other beliefs, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or other personal or social circumstances is prohibited.”
Each individual has the right to fair remuneration and the amount should not be less than the minimum wage set by law (Article 32 of the CAR).2
As mentioned above, wage issues are dealt with in separate enactments such as the Employment Wages Act, 2001, the Act on Remuneration of Civil Servants, 2002, and the Minimum Wage Act, 2004.
Chapter 19 of the LC is devoted to wage issues, while Chapter 20 deals with financial guarantees and compensations.
Wages are paid in the currency of the Republic of Armenia (Dram). The rate of minimum, monthly and hourly pay is established by law of the Republic of Armenia (Article 179 of the LC), and the wage indexation (Article 182 of the LC).
Particular wage conditions are provided for overtime work or night work, work carried out in hazardous conditions, during public holidays and rest days, idle time and part-time work (Articles 183 to 189 of the LC).
The employer is permitted to make deductions from the worker’s salary in case of defective production or failure to meet required quotas (Articles 190 to 191 of the LC). Additional grounds for wage deductions are also listed in Article 213 of the LC. However, the total deductions cannot exceed 50 per cent of the monthly wage of the worker concerned (Article 214 of the LC).
Article 192 of the LC indicates that wages are to be paid at least once a month. The employer is obliged to provide the worker with a written statement detailing information on wages paid and deductions made (Article 193 of the LC).
Trade unions and employers' association regulation
Article 28 of the Armenian Constitution guarantees freedom of association. This principle is reaffirmed in Article 21 of the LC.3
Article 23 of the LC states that rights and interests of workers may be represented by trade unions.
Chapter 7 (Articles 39 to 44) of the LC is devoted to social partnership regulation. Article 39 of the LC defines it as a system of interrelations between workers (their representatives) and employers (their representatives), as well as the Government of the Republic of Armenia in some cases established by the LC, aimed at according workers’ and employers’ interests in collective labour relationship. This provision also enumerates basic principles of social partnership, namely, equality of the parties and right to collective bargaining.
In the Republic of Armenia, there are four levels of social partnership: State, branch, region and enterprise. In the latter, the social partners are the employers and the trade union of the enterprise (Article 41 of the LC).
In accordance with (Article 42 of the LC), social partnership is realized through:
- collective bargaining aimed at preparing and signing collective agreements; and
- exchange of information and reciprocal consultations.
Collective bargaining and collective agreements
Among the fundamental principles of labour regulation in the Republic of Armenia, it is indicated that collective agreements cannot contain conditions, which are less favourable to workers than those rights stipulated by labour legislation. If collective agreement contains such provisions, they are deemed invalid (Article 6 of the LC).
Articles 45 and 46 of the LC deals with the collective bargaining process, the regulation, preparation, conclusion and execution of collective agreements. Collective agreements can be concluded at State, branch, regional and enterprise levels (Article 46 of the LC).
While the content and structure of collective agreements are to be decided by the parties concerned, Article 49 of the LC provides a detailed list of possible issues to be dealt with in State, branch and regional agreements. These agreements should be submitted for registration to the relevant public body within ten days after their signature. Refusal to register collective agreements is prohibited (Article 51 of the LC).
National, branch and regional collective agreements come into force on the date of their signature by the parties, unless otherwise stipulated in these agreements. The validity of these agreements are determined by the parties, however this term cannot be longer than three years. A possible extension of its validity is also limited to three years (Article 52 of the LC).
As regards collective agreements at the enterprise level, Chapter 10 (Articles 55 to 63) of the LC describes their content and process of elaboration. The parties of the enterprise-level collective agreement are the employer and the trade union acting in the enterprise. In the case of several trade unions present in the enterprise, they should constitute a single body to represent workers’ interests (Article 56 of the LC).
The content of an enterprise-level collective agreement is subject to the social partners’ consideration and negotiation, but should not contradict national legislation and higher-level collective agreements, or be less favourable to workers (Article 57 of the LC).
Enterprise-level collective agreements come into force on the date of their signature by the parties, or on the date stipulated. The term is determined by the parties concerned, however, this term cannot be longer than three years. A possible extension is also limited to three years (Article 52 of the LC).
The procedure for amending and supplementing an enterprise-level collective agreement should be established in the agreement itself (Article 60 of the LC).
As regards the possibility of unilateral termination of the enterprise-level collective agreement, Article 61 of the LC indicates that each party is allowed to do so after giving at least three-months’ notice to the other party. However, resignation is forbidden during the first six months of the validity of the enterprise-level collective agreement.4
Workers' representation in the enterprise
Article 22 of the LC states that representation in collective labour relations is deemed effective if the representatives are mandated by the majority of workers. The decisions taken through these representatives have binding effect on all the workers of the enterprise, even those who did not mandate such representation.
Workers are entitled to obtain, from the employer and through their representatives, information concerning employment perspectives and conditions of work in the area or enterprise concerned (Article 43 of the LC).
Labour Disputes Settlements
Chapter 24 of the LC details the settlement of labour disputes. Individual disputes concerning contracts of employment are to be dealt with in the courts, following the procedure established by the Civil Procedure Code (Article 264 of the LC).
Collective labour disputes are regulated by Chapter 11 of the LC (Articles 64 to 82). Article 64 of the LC defines collective labour disputes as disagreements between the trade union and the employer, or the parties allowed to conclude a collective agreement, on the submitted and unsatisfactory requirements of the parties, related to process or content of collective bargaining.
The submission of motivated requirements is done in writing to the relevant social partner who is expected to reply within seven days after its receipt (Articles 65 and 66 of the LC).
Conciliation is a mandatory stage in the collective labour disputes settlement procedure. To this end, a conciliation commission consisting of an equal number of representatives of the parties to the dispute has to be established within seven days after the beginning of the dispute (Articles 68 to 70 of the LC). The conciliation commission has seven days to consider the dispute. The decision taken by the conciliation commission has binding force on the parties to the dispute.
Strikes and lock-outs
The right to strike is a constitutional right in the Republic of Armenia. The employees have the right to strike for the protection of their economic, social and employment interests, the procedure and limitations are prescribed by the law (Art. 32 of the CAR).
Article 73 of the LC defines “strike” as a temporary suspension of work by workers of one or several enterprises in the case of non-settlement of a collective labour dispute related to collective agreement (including refusal to bargain collectively, refusal to discuss within the conciliation commission, non-execution of the decision taken by the conciliation commission).
The right to declare a strike is vested in the trade union. The decision is considered adopted if two-thirds of the enterprise workers approve it by secret ballot. The employer must be a given at least seven days’ written notice on the intended date for beginning the strike. (Article 74 of the LC).
Minimum essential services have to be ensured during any strike (Articles 74, 77 and 78 of the LC).
Article 75 of the LC enumerates the limitations of the right to strike. In particular, strikes are prohibited in police, armed forces, in electricity, water and gas supply enterprises, first aid medial services. Strikes are temporarily forbidden in the event of a natural disaster, state of emergency or martial law. It is important to point out in this context that the declaration of any strike is not allowed during the period of validity of the collective agreement.
The rights and duties of the parties to the collective labour dispute are specified in Articles 79 and 80 of the LC. For instance, participation in a strike is voluntary, and the employer cannot consider the participation in a legal strike as a breach of labour discipline.
In Armenia, it does not exist a specialized labour court system and labour disputes are dealt with in the ordinary civil judiciary system.
In accordance with Article 18 of the CAR, everyone is entitled to effective legal remedies to protect his/her rights and freedoms before judicial as well as other public bodies.
Article 19 of the CAR adds that everyone has a right to restore his/her violated rights, and to reveal the grounds of the charge against him/her in a fair public hearing under the equal protection of the law and fulfilling all the demands of justice by an independent and impartial court within a reasonable time.
As regards the structure of the Armenian judicial body, Article 92 of the CAR states that the courts operating in the Republic of Armenia are the first instance court of general jurisdiction, the courts of appeal, the Court of Cassation, as well as specialized courts in cases prescribed by the law. The highest court instance in the Republic of Armenia, except for matters of constitutional justice, is the Court of Cassation, whose main objective is to ensure uniformity in the implementation of the law. The establishment of emergency tribunals is forbidden.
Ratification of ILO Conventions
The Republic of Armenia is a member of the International Labour Organisation since 1992.
On July 2006, the Republic of Armenia ratified 29 international Conventions. Updated information on the state of ratification may be found on the following website:
- National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia (in English)
- National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia (in Russian)
- Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Armenia
- Armenia Development Gateway
- ILOLEX country profile
- Legal Frameworks for Employers’ Organizations in Eastern European and Central Asian Countries by Angelika Muller. The paper is available in English (pdf 3.26KB) and Russian (pdf 4.57KB).
- Legal Research Guide to Armenia
- Research on Promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Armenia
1 The content of the Labour Code of the Republic of Armenia:
Part 1. General provisions
Chapter 1: Labour legislation and relations regulated by it
Chapter 2: Labour relations, the grounds of the emergence of labour relations, the parties to labour relations
Chapter 3: Representation in collective labour relations
Chapter 4: Dates
Chapter 5: Supervision and control of respect of labour legislation
Chapter 6: Realization and protection of labour rights
Part 2. Collective labour relations
Chapter 7: Social partnership in the field of labour
Chapter 8: General provisions on collective agreements
Chapter 9: State-level, branch and local collective agreements
Chapter 10: Enterprise collective agreements
Chapter 11: Settlement of collective labour disputes
Part 3. Individual labour relations
Chapter 12: Content of a labour contract and signing of a contract
Chapter 13: Forms of labour contracts
Chapter 14: Implementation of labour contracts
Chapter 15: Termination of employment
Chapter 16: Protection of private data of employees
Chapter 17: Working time
Chapter 18: Rest periods
Chapter 19: Wages
Chapter 20: Guarantees and compensation
Chapter 21: Labour discipline
Chapter 22: Financial liability
Chapter 23: Safety and health of employees
Chapter 24: Labour disputes
2 As mentioned above, wage issues are dealt with in separate enactments such as the Employment Wages Act, 2001, the Act on Remuneration of Civil Servants, 2002, and the Minimum Wage Act, 2004.
3 As mentioned above, the Trade Unions Act of 2000 is a special law which deals with the organization and functioning of trade unions. The draft law on employers’ organizations is under preparation in July 2006.
4 In the event of privatization of the enterprise, its collective agreement is considered as unilaterally terminated on behalf of the former employer irrespective of the validity period.