COVID-19

PM issues Defence Order No. 6 stipulating labour rights under Defence Law

Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Omar Razzaz on Wednesday announced Defence Order No. 6 of 2020 issued under Defence Law No. 13 of 1992.

The Defence Order, announced by the prime minister during a televised statement, aims to protect the rights of workers in various economic sectors in light of some sectors gradually returning to work while the curfew continues, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

The order stipulates that all workers in private sector institutions and establishments or any other entity subject to the Labour Law are entitled to their regular wages for the period from March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020.

It added that none of the workers in the sectors excluded from theCabinet decision to suspend work are entitled to additional wages for their work during that period, unless they are assigned to additional work in accordance with the provisions of Article 59 of Labour Law No. 8 of 1996.

The order stipulates that as of April 2020, workers who perform their work in the workplace are entitled to their full wages, unless the workers agree to a reduction in their wages.

The amount of such a reduction must not exceed 30 per cent of the usual wage of the worker and this option should not be resorted to unless the reduction includes the salaries of administrative heads of the facility, according to the order.

The Defence Order also stipulates that workers who perform their work remotely in fullfor institutions and establishments permitted to work and those covered by the decision to suspend work who are not permitted to work are entitled to their full wages.

It added that part-time remote workers at permitted establishments or those covered by the decision to suspend work who are not permitted to work are entitled to their wages according to their actual hours of work, at a rate of no less than the specified minimum hourly wages.

The order stipulates that employers in private sector institutions and establishments and any entities subject to the Labour Law that are covered by the decision to suspend work and not permitted to work have the right to benefit from economic protection programmes according to the conditions for each of them.

Any employers who have forced any workers to resign, terminated their services or dismissed them from work during the period extending from March 18, 2020 until the date of issuing of Defence Order No. 6 of 2020 must allow them to return to work within a week from the date of the order’s publication in the Official Gazette.

The Defence Order also outlines procedures for certain employers whose operations have been suspended under the curfew for submitting requests to the government to pay their employees at least 50 per cent of their usual wages, and procedures for employers who are unable to pay their employees.

The order notes that sectors, institutions and establishments excluded from the decision to suspend work, be they from the private sector or any other entity subject to the Labour Law, will be evaluated and permitted to operate after obtaining approval from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Health and the relevant minister, combined.

The Defence Order also includes the conditions for institutions and individuals to benefit from support programmes in light of the economic challenges caused by the pandemic crisis.

The prime minister affirmed that Jordan is a state of law, production and solidarity, stressing that the top priority is citizens’ health, as directed by His Majesty King Abdullah.

The goal in the current stage on the economic level is to maintain as many job opportunities as possible and continue the work of the private sector, while adhering to health measures, in a balanced manner that ensures that no single party bears the bulk of the burden, Razzaz said.

"We are talking today about protecting the worker, the employer and the national economy," he said.

The prime minister noted that the government’s work continuity team is studying alternatives and communicating with the private sector to bring forward clear and transparent rules to distribute the load between all parties to overcome this crisis.

The decision not to permit institutions and sectors to work at present aims to reduce citizens' movement as much as possible, he said.

Razzaz stressed that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply is studying with the private sector the criteria that will ensure the safe permitting of currently unpermitted sectors to resume work, provided that they adhere fully to health and safety standards.

The prime minister noted that special attention must be given to the sector that includes self-employed and daily wage workers, adding that "these may be the most affected at this stage, especially small establishments that are not subscribed to the Social Security Corporation”, calling on all such entities to subscribe to the corporation so that the government can help them benefit from its various programmes.

Razzaz pointed out that the "Himmat Watan" fund, which was established under Defence Order No. 4 to support national efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic and its repercussions, is a collective contribution from the Jordanian society at large.

For his part, Minister of Labour Nidal Bataineh noted that the instructions issued under Defence Order No. 6 will be reviewed periodically by the relevant ministries, stressing that official teams have taken into account “the balance between the interests of employers and workers”, especially in light of the circumstances the Kingdom is facing as a result of COVID-19.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tareq Hammouri said that the government is carefully considering starting the safe and gradual return to work for sectors that are currently not permitted to work, with a focus on safely resuming work in the export sector.

Minister of Finance Mohammad Al-Ississ said that predictions regarding the financial and economic impact of the crisis on Jordan indicate that it will be “profound” and affect public revenues.

He noted that, just as the coronavirus crisis brings challenges, it also presents opportunities that the government is working to take advantage of, such as low oil prices and the digitisation and organisation of the economy.

In regard to public finances, the minister said that the government is seeking to maintain the same level of spending, with a redistribution of priorities to maximise economic benefits and social protection.

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