by Ms. Anika Bushra Tabassum

Bangladesh’s employment law is regulated by the 2006 Labor Act (“Act”) and the 2015 Labor Rules (“Rules”).  The Bangladesh labor Act 2006 (‘’Act’’), consolidates and amends the laws relating to the employment of a worker, the relation between workers and employers, determination of minimum rates of wages, payment of wages, compensation for injuries to workers during working hours, the formation of trade unions, raising and settlement of industrial disputes, health, safety, welfare, working conditions and environment of workers and apprenticeship and matters ancillary thereto.

The Act states a ‘’worker” (even worker supplied by a contracting agency) means any person including an apprentice employed in any establishment or industry, either directly or through a contractor do any skilled, unskilled, manual, technical, trade promotional, or clerical work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment are expressed or implied, but does not include a person employed mainly in a managerial, administrative [or supervisory] capacity. Furthermore, workers are classified in the following categories: a) apprentice [employed in an establishment as a trainee and paid allowances during the training period]; (b) substitute [employed in the post of a permanent worker or of a probationer for the period of his temporary absence]; (c) casual [if he is employed on an ad-hoc basis for work of a casual nature]; (d) temporary [employed for work which is essential of temporary nature and is likely to be finished within a limited period] ; (e) probationer [employed for the time being in an establishment in a permanent post and the period of his probation is not ended] ; (f) permanent [employed in an establishment on a permanent basis]; and (g) seasonal worker [Any work season and remain in employment up to the end of the season]

Every establishment may have its own service rules regulating employment of workers, but such rules shall not be less favorable to any worker and this shall be submitted to the Chief Inspector for approval by the employer and he shall, within 90 (ninety) days upon the receipt, make such order as he deems fit and any service rules shall not be effective without the approval of the Chief Inspector. Any person aggrieved by the order of the Chief Inspector may, within 30 (thirty) days can appeal to the Government and the Government shall dispose of such appeal within 45 (forty-five) days and the order on such appeal shall be final. A register should be kept in the office of the inspector general as per Form-4 in this regard. In addition to it, the register of Workers Supplied by the Contracting Agency has to be recorded as per Form 5 [Rule 8 (4)].

As stipulated under section 5 of the Act, no employer shall employ any worker without giving such individual an appointment letter and every such employed worker shall be provided with an identity card with his photograph at the costs of the owner as per Form-6 [Rule 19 (5)]

A service book has to be maintained as prescribed by the rules and a photograph of the worker shall be affixed (Section 7 of the Act). Rule 20 (1) and (2) state, a service book will be as per Form-7. The pages except the cover will be divided into the following parts:

(a) First part: Information for identifying the workers

(b) Second Part: Information of the owner and job (Page 2-5)

(c) Third Part: Service record, information on the wages and allowances (page 6-9)

(d) Fourth Part: Description of the leave enjoyed (page 10-13)

(e) Fifth part: Record of the behavior of the workers (page 14-16)

 A workers’ register should be preserved as per Form-8 for workers of all classes and it will be designed as per the classification of the workers [As identified in Rule 23 (1)].

As per Section 9 (1)(2) of the Act, the employer shall maintain a register of workers of his establishment and make it available to the Inspector for inspection at all times during working hours.

A worker who desires to obtain a leave of absence shall apply to his employer in writing along with his address during the leave. The employer or an officer authorized by him shall issue an order within 7 (seven) days of receipt of the application or 2 (two) days prior to the commencement of leave applied for, whichever is earlier. If due to any urgent reasons the leave applied for starts on the date of application or within 3 (three) days, such order shall be given on the day of receipt of the application. If the leave asked for is granted, a leave pass shall be issued to the worker. If the leave asked for is refused or suspended, the reasons for such refusal or postponement shall be communicated to the worker before the date on which the leave would have expected to be commenced and it shall be recorded in the register too. If any worker, desires an extension while being on leave, and if such leave is due to him may apply in writing by registered post before the reasonable time of the expiry of the leave to the employer who shall send a written reply either of granting or of refusing the extension of leave to the worker to his leave-address (Section 10).

The leave register (Section 10) and leave book [Rules 108 (1)] will be kept in accordance with Form – 9.

As stated in stated Section 115, every worker shall be entitled to casual leave for 10 (ten) days with full wages in a calendar year, and if not availed, it shall not be accumulated in the succeeding year.

Section 116 (1) stipulates that every worker (except a newspaper worker) shall be entitled to sick leave with full wages for 14 (fourteen) days in a calendar year and subsection 3 clarifies that no such leave shall be granted unless a registered medical practitioner appointed by the employer or, any other registered medical practitioner, certifies that the worker is ill and requires leave for treatment. In addition to it, such leave shall not be accumulated and carried forward to the succeeding years. [Section 116 (4)]

Section 117 of the Act is regarding annual leave. A worker who has completed 1 (one) year of continuous service in an establishment shall be allowed during the following period of 12 (twelve) months’ leave with wages for days calculated on the basis of the works of the preceding 12 (twelve) months at the following rate: (Section 117 Subsection 1)

Section 117 (2) codifies that an adolescent worker who has completed 1 (one) year of continuous service shall be allowed during the subsequent period of 12 months’ leave with wages for a number of days calculated for the works of the previous 12 months at the following rate, namely: (a) 1 (one) day for every 15 (fifteen) days of work, in the case of a factory; (b) 1 (one) day for every 18 (eighteen) days of work, in the case of a tea plantation; (c) 1 (one) day for every 14 days of work, in the case of a shop or commercial or industrial establishment. If any holiday occurs into the leave granted shall be included in such leave. If a worker does not, in any period of 12 (twelve) months, take the leave either in whole or in part, to which he is entitled under subsection (1) or (2), such leave shall be added to the leave which he is entitled to.

Furthermore, as per sub section 6 of the following section, an adolescent worker shall cease to earn any leave when the earned leave due to him amounts to

If a worker applies for earned leave and is refused by the employer for any reason, such refused leave shall be added to the credit of such worker beyond the limit.

Section 16 of the Act deals with the right of laid-off workers for compensation.

An employer may in the event of an accident, natural disaster, a pandemic or any other cause outside his control, stop any section or section of his establishment, wholly or in part. If the period of work stoppage reaches 3 (three) working days, the workers shall be laid off.

Under the virtue of Section 16 (1), except for a substitute or casual worker, any worker whose name is on an establishment’s muster-rolls and who has completed at least 1 (one) year of service under the employer will be considered laid off and the employer shall pay compensation to him for all the days on which he is so laid off, except for weekly holidays.

Section 16 (4) clarifies that during any calendar year, no worker shall be entitled to pay compensation in the event of a laid-off for more than 45 (forty-five) days. On the other hand, subsection 5 of the following Act sheds light on the fact that, within a calendar year, any worker is laid-off for more than 45 (forty-five) days, whether continuously or intermittently and after the expiry of those 45 (forty-five) days, the lay-off period shall be extended for an additional 15 (fifteen) days or more, the worker shall be paid for each subsequent lay-off period for 15 (fifteen) days or more. The amount of compensation for an extension of 15 days shall be equal to one-fourth of the total basic wages and dearness allowance and ad hoc or temporary wages.

 The amount of compensation for a worker other than a replacement or temporary worker shall be equivalent to half of the overall regular wages and dearness allowance and ad-hoc or transitional wages, and equivalent to the maximum amount of housing allowance, if any, that would have been payable to him had he not been so laid-off.

However, Section 16 (3) clarifies the position that, if a substitute worker whose name is on an establishment’s muster-rolls has completed one year of continuous service at the institution, he would not be considered as a substitute worker here.

A lay off notice mentioning the number of affected and jobless workers as per the section 13 and a statement under the Form-10 is to be sent to the concerned inspector as identified in Rules 25.

The owner should inform all information to the inspector general or any inspector authorized by him within 3 (three) days as prescribed in Form-10 in case the permanent stoppage of the production activities in a factory or sudden natural disaster or disasters out of human control or emergency [Rules 32 (a) (aa)]. The owner should also inform as per rules 32 (b) (ee) all information including the address of the shifted place of the factory to the inspector or director within 7 (seven) days in accordance with Form-10 as well.

Section 22 of the Act deals with a worker’s discharge from service for reasons of physical or mental incapacity or continued ill-health certified by a registered medical practitioner and the inability certificate should be in accordance with Form 11 and one copy of that should be given to the concerned worker [Rules 28 (1)]. A discharged worker who has completed not less than one year of continuous service shall be paid by the employer, as compensation, 30 (thirty) days’ wages for his every year of service, or gratuity, if payable, whichever is higher.     

Section 25 relates to special provisions relating to the fine. Subsection 1 of the following Act, states that a fine exceeding one-tenth of the wages payable to a worker shall not be imposed. Subsection 2 clarifies that no fine shall be imposed on a worker who is under the age of 15 (fifteen) years and any fine imposed on any worker shall not be recovered from him by installments or after the expiry of 60 (sixty) days from the date on which it was imposed (Subsection 3). A fine is deemed to have been imposed on the day of the commission of the offense and all fines and realizations shall be recorded by the employer in Form 12 as prescribed by Rule 30 and all fines realized shall be spent only for the welfare of the workers employed.

Other than a casual or substitute worker, every worker shall be entitled to get a certificate relating to service from his employer at the time of his retrenchment, discharge, dismissal, removal, retirement or termination of service as identified in Section 31. The certificate should be issued as per Form-13 within 15 (fifteen) days of the application of the worker.

Section 33 of the following Act covers the scenario where any worker who has been laid-off, retrenched, discharged, dismissed, removed, or otherwise terminated from employment, has any complaint and intends to get redress shall send his complaint in writing to his employer, by registered post within 30 (thirty) days of being informed of the cause of such complaint. The employer shall within 30 (thirty) days of receipt of the complaint, make an inquiry into the complaint after giving the concerned worker an opportunity of being heard, communicate their decision in writing.

Given if the employer fails to give any decision or if the concerned worker is dissatisfied with such decision, he may submit a complaint in writing to the Labour Court within 30 (thirty) days from the date of expiry or the decision of the employer as per Form 14. The Labour Court shall give notice to both the parties and on considering the circumstances of the case shall pass such order as it may deem just. Any aggrieved person by an order of the Labour Court, may, within thirty days of the order appeal to the Tribunal, and the decision of the Tribunal on such appeal shall be final. Under this section, no Court-fee shall be payable for making any complaint or an appeal and also shall not amount to criminal prosecution.

Section 34,35 and 36 deals with the restrictions on the employment of children and adolescents. During the last few years, there has been a significant increase in adolescent workers in Bangladesh’s workforce. According to the law an adolescent shall not be employed ( other than an apprentice or for receiving vocational training) or permitted to work in any occupation or establishment unless he provides a certificate of fitness in Form 15 prescribed by rule, granted to him by a registered medical practitioner; he carries a token containing a reference to such certificate at work.

In addition to it, a parent or guardian of a child shall not make an agreement with anyone allowing the child to be appointed for any work. If there is any dispute as to whether any person is a child or an adolescent it shall be resolved on the basis of the birth registration certificate or school certificate or a certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner certifying the age of the concerned person.

There has been a significant increase in women’s participation in Bangladesh’s workforce in recent times. Section 47 of the Act deals with the procedure regarding the payment of maternity benefit. If a pregnant woman is entitled to maternity benefit, she shall, on any day, (i) give notice either orally or in writing to her employer that she expects to be confined within 8 (eight) weeks and the name of the person who shall receive the payment in case of her death. (ii) If a woman has not given any such notice, she shall give notice within 7 (seven) days of her giving birth to the child. The employer shall then permit the concerned woman to absent herself from work either in case of scenario (i) from the day following the date of notice or in case of scenario (ii) from the day of delivery until 8 (eight) weeks after the day of delivery.

Under Section 47 (4),  an employer shall pay maternity benefit to a woman in any of the following ways as that woman may want, namely: (a) where a certificate from a registered medical practitioner is produced certifying that the woman is expected to be confined within 8 (eight) weeks the maternity benefit payable for 8 (eight) weeks preceding delivery shall be paid within 3 (three) working days, and such benefit payable for the remaining period shall be paid within 3 working days of the production of proof that she has given birth to a child; or (b) maternity benefit payable for 8 (eight) weeks preceding and including the date of delivery shall be paid within 3 (three) working days following the production of proof to the employer that she has given birth to a child, and benefit payable for the remaining period shall be paid within 8 (eight) weeks or (c) maternity benefit payable for the whole of such period shall be paid within three working days following the production of proof that she has given birth to a child. Where the payment is dependent upon the proof a woman shall not be entitled to any maternity benefit that she has given birth to a child, unless such proof is produced within 3 (three) months of the day of her delivery. The proof shall be either an attested extract from a birth register maintained under the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 2004 (Act No. XXIX of 2004) or a certificate given by a registered medical practitioner.

An employer shall be liable to pay wages to workers employed by him. Section 121 deals with the responsibility for payment of wages. All workers, except any worker employed by a contractor, the Chief Executive Officer, the manager, or any other person responsible to the employer for the supervision and control of an establishment shall also be liable for such payment. The wages of a worker employed by the contractor shall be paid by the employer of the establishment, and the same shall be adjusted from the contractor.

All establishments should preserve the records of wage payment of all of the workers in order of their sequence in the registry as per wage time and in addition to it, the owner shall also give Wage Slip to each worker at the time of paying wages in compliance with Form-38.

The labor law in Bangladesh is currently developed enough to protect the labor rights; however, it is not enforced properly and therefore does not safeguard basic worker rights. In addition to it, dangerous working conditions, low wages which fails to cover the basic cost of living, child labor, unlawful dismissal and many other illegal practices are added problems which requires immediate attention. 

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