The economic climate in Algeria is relatively healthy compared to other nations in the region. The financial situation is strong, mainly because of income from its export trade in oil and gas. Within the last two decades, employment in the country has steadily increased from 2.7 million to over 11 million people employed. However, youth unemployment is still considerably high.
The government has adopted a comprehensive labor code to ensure all employee rights in Algeria are maintained and observed. Nonetheless, disputes between workers and employers tend to arise every now and then.
There is a tradition of unionization in the labor market in Algeria. Trade unions in the country are headed by the General Union of Algerian Workers (locally known as the Union Générale des Travailleurs Algériens, or the UGTA). With nearly 66% of the total workforce unionized, the UGTA plays an important role in negotiating working conditions and wages for employees in the public sector. However, the enactment of labor laws in 1990 put an end to the power of collective bargaining.
The GTA is still actively fighting for labor rights, particularly following the decline in wages after the introduction of the Public Service Act 2 that has affected millions of people in the country. It often organizes strikes for mass protest but has not really succeeded in getting any compensation or forcing concessions for public sector employees.
Statutory Employee Rights in Algeria
As per the Labor Law of Algeria, the normal working time for employees is 40 hours per week, regardless of the nature of the job or the industry that they are serving in. Employers must spread these hours over a period of 5 workdays per week. Employees must be given at least one whole day (paid) to rest every week. This is typically Friday, but organizations can choose any other day as is feasible for their business operations.
By law, no employee can be forced to work overtime for more than 8 hours a week. Employees working overtime are entitled to an extra payment of at least 50% of their regular hourly pay.
Since 2012, the minimum monthly wage in Algeria has remained stable at 18,000 Algerian dinars (approximately $150). However, in May 2020, the government increased the basic pay rate to 20,000 Algerian dinars, which is almost equal to $170.
Workers in Algeria have a right to 9 public holidays in a year, most of which are observed as per the Islamic lunar calendar. Additionally, they must be allowed a fully paid annual leave of up to 30 days. Sick leave can be used by employees by submitting relevant documents as proof of their illness. Sick pay is generally given from the first day of illness.
It is not compulsory to conclude an employment contract in writing. Oral agreements between employers and employees are legally permissible. However, it’s important to remember that if the contract is prematurely terminated, the employee might be entitled to compensation. This is generally paid in cash and is given upon sudden dismissal provided that the employee isn’t being fired for misconduct.
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