In 2012 the government raised the national minimum wage to 190 dinars ($268) per month, and the poverty level was set at 366 dinars ($517) per month for a family of five. The minimum wage increase excluded noncitizens and all workers in the garment industry. Citizen workers in the garment industry received a minimum wage of 170 dinars ($240) per month; noncitizen workers in the garment industry received a minimum wage of 110 dinars ($155) per month, although many had base wages slightly above the minimum wage. This exemption was granted in part because employers often provided room and board for noncitizen workers in this sector. Some garment factories continued to deduct room and board from workers’ already lower salaries.
The law sets a standard workweek of 48 hours and requires overtime pay for hours worked in excess of that standard. The law provides for 14 days of paid annual leave per year, which increases to 21 days after five years of service. Workers are also provided additional national and religious holidays designated by the government. Employees are entitled to one day off per week. The law permits compulsory overtime under certain circumstances such as conducting an annual inventory, closing accounts, preparing to sell goods at discounted prices, avoiding loss to goods that would otherwise be exposed to damage, and receiving special deliveries. In such cases actual working hours may not exceed 10 hours per day, the employee must be paid overtime, and the period may not last more than 30 days. There is no cap on the amount of consensual overtime.
The government set occupational health and safety standards. Employers are required to abide by all such standards set by the labor ministry. The law requires employers to protect workers from hazards caused by the nature of the job or its tools, provide any necessary protective equipment, train workers on hazards and prevention measures, provide first aid as necessitated by the job, and protect employees from explosions or fires by storing flammable materials appropriately.
The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcement of labor laws and acceptable conditions of work. Ministry inspectors enforced the labor code but were unable to ensure full compliance; there were 106 inspectors for the entire country, an insufficient number to enforce the labor code effectively. Employees may lodge complaints regarding violations of the labor code directly with the Ministry of Labor or through organizations such as their union or the NCHR. The labor ministry opens an investigation for each complaint. Labor inspectors conducted 53,550 inspections and issued 9,863 warnings and 14,409 violations nationwide.
Labor standards apply to the informal sector, but the labor ministry lacked the capacity to detect and monitor informal work. Authorities did not consistently apply all the protections of the labor code to domestic and agricultural workers, as its applicability was not clear. Labor contacts stated that agricultural and domestic workers, cooks, and gardeners were not entitled to social benefits from the Social Security Corporation.
The government took action to prevent violations and improve working conditions during the year. The Ministry of Labor placed a special focus on enforcing compliance in the Qualifying Industrial Zones, which were populated largely by migrant garment workers. The ratio of labor inspectors to workers or places of employment was significantly higher in these zones than for the general population. The government required export garment manufacturers to take part in Better Work Jordan in order to improve labor standards. As of December, 60 of the 65 factories required by the government to join Better Work Jordan were active members of the program.
Wage, overtime, safety, and other standards often were not upheld in several sectors, including construction, mechanic shops, day labor, and the garment industry. Foreign workers faced hazardous and exploitative working conditions in a variety of sectors. Union leaders reported that female Jordanian workers were more likely to encounter labor violations; including wages below the minimum wage and harassment in the workplace. As there was no limit on consensual overtime, the labor ministry permitted employees in some industries, such as the garment sector, to work excessive workweeks, reportedly as much as 80-100 hours per week. As of September 1, the labor ministry closed 385 workplaces and gave warnings to 2,341 workplaces for recruiting foreign workers without work permits.
In the garment sector, foreign workers were more susceptible than their Jordanian counterparts to dangerous or unfair conditions, including mandatory overtime, delayed payment of wages, deductions for room and board, and unacceptable dormitory conditions. Forced labor or conditions indicative of forced labor occurred in the garment industry, although Better Work Jordan reported that no factories were found noncompliant concerning bonded labor. Better Work Jordan also found that compliance regarding coercion improved, with seven factories found to be noncompliant, five of which denied their workers access to their personal documents and three findings related to employers requiring workers to work beyond the term of their contracts, restricting workers’ mobility and using threats such as deporation, cancellation of visas, or reporting to the authorities in order to force workers to stay on the job. Indebtedness of migrant garment workers to third parties and involuntary or excessive overtime persisted.
On May 29, the country’s first collective bargaining agreement to regulate the relationship between workers and their employers in the apparel sector was created by the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing Industries, the Jordanian Garment Accessories and Textile Exporters’ Association, and the Association of Owners of Factories, Workshops and Garments. The agreement included provisions on union recognition, access to workers, dues check-off, dormitory standards, dispute settlement, employer rights, and annual seniority bonuses for apparel-sector workers.
On October 29, the first Workers’ Center, in the Al-Hassan industrial zone, officially opened. Recreational training and other services for workers are provided at the center.
Some workers in the agricultural sector, the vast majority of whom were Egyptian, were subject to exploitative conditions. According to a domestic NGO, agricultural workers usually were paid less than the minimum wage, worked excessive hours without adequate compensation, and lived in substandard housing. Some employers in the agricultural sector also reportedly confiscated passports. Egyptian migrant workers were also vulnerable to exploitation in the construction industry; they usually were paid less than the minimum wage and lacked basic training and equipment necessary to uphold occupational health and safety standards.
Domestic workers, overwhelmingly migrants, often faced unacceptable working conditions. Many domestic workers reported to local NGOs and their embassies that they received insufficient food, no private accommodations, no health care, no days off, and long delays in or nonpayment of wages. Domestic workers could file complaints in person with the labor ministry’s Domestic Workers Directorate or the PSD; however, many domestic workers complained there was no follow-up on their cases either from the ministry or from the PSD. Users of a labor ministry domestic-worker hotline reported that live operators were available only during government business hours, or seven hours a day during the work week. Afterhours calls required the user to leave a message and a callback number, which posed particular difficulties for domestic workers who had access only to their employers’ telephones.
Advocates for migrant domestic workers reported that domestic workers who sought government assistance or made allegations against their employers frequently faced counterclaims of criminal behavior from their employers. Employers could file criminal complaints or flight notifications against domestic workers with police stations. Even when domestic workers benefited from initiatives such as the general amnesty that waived immigration overstay fines, they could be prevented from leaving the country due to such alerts on file with the police.
During the year hundreds of domestic workers from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka sought shelter at their countries’ embassies in Amman. Most of the domestic workers reportedly fled conditions indicative of forced labor or abuse, including unpaid wages and, to a lesser extent, sexual or physical abuse. By law employers are responsible for renewing foreign employees’ residency permits but often failed to do this for domestic employees. As a result most of the domestic workers sheltered by embassies were considered illegal residents, and many were stranded because they were unable to pay the daily overstay fees of 1.5 dinars (two dollars) to depart the country.
As a result of poor working conditions experienced by some of their citizens, the Philippines and Indonesia prohibited their citizens from traveling to the country as domestic workers. Some human rights organizations argued that these bans heightened the vulnerability of foreign domestic workers, who turned to unscrupulous recruitment agencies to migrate illegally to the country. Reversing a long-standing policy, in 2012 the government began to prevent the immigration of Indonesian workers until it negotiated a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Indonesian government. As a result, the Ministry of Labor halted the issuance of work permits for Indonesian domestic workers, although the Ministry of Interior reportedly continued to issue residency permits. In December the governments of Indonesia and Jordan signed a new MOU to allow the legal immigration of Indonesians workers to Jordan.
As of October 22, the Social Security Corporation reported that approximately 425,000 work injuries occurred during the year and some 2,250 people died because of work injuries.