According to International Labor Organization (ILO) modeled data, Algeria had an unemployment rate of 11.7 percent in 2021. Following the pandemic, the real unemployment rate is likely much higher, with some sources estimating it to be above 30 percent in the youth population. Official employment figures are measured by the number of persons seeking work through the National Employment Agency (ANEM). Citing ANEM data, the World Bank Economic Update for Fall 2022 noted the official number of job offers increased in Q1-2022 and Q2-2022 (by 17.5 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively). Yet, the average number of job offers in 2022 remained 7.1 percent below 2021 and 18.2 percent below 2019. The total number of registered job seekers increased significantly in early 2022, due to a 2022 Finance Law that established a monthly 13,000 DZD (USD 96) unemployment allocation for first-time job seekers between 19 and 40 years of age. The ILO estimates that more than one-third of all employment in Algeria takes place in the informal economy and the informal sector is estimated to comprise up to 50 percent of Algeria’s non-hydrocarbon economy.
Stringent labor-market regulations likely inhibit an increase in full-time, open-ended work. Regulations do not allow for flexibility in hiring and firing in times of economic downturn. For example, employers are generally required to pay severance when laying off or firing workers. Unemployment insurance eligibility requirements may discourage job seekers from collecting benefits due to them, and the level of support claimants receive is minimal.
Data from a 2018 labor survey showed only 16.6 percent of women participate in the labor force, compared to 66.7 percent of men. Both legal and social/cultural barriers hinder women’s participation. Algerian laws do not prohibit discrimination by sex in the hiring process and also prohibit the employment of women for night work (without a special permission) and in occupations defined as “dangerous.” Social barriers include societal roles as primary caretakers and disproportionate household responsibilities, which are exacerbated by lack of transportation and childcare options. Notably, women in Algeria have higher educational attainment than men, in terms of number of years of education and share of degrees held. In several plans and reports published in recent years, the Government of Algeria has noted its goal of improving women’s participation in the labor market.
Companies must submit extensive justification to hire foreign employees, and report pressure to hire more locals (even if jobs could be replaced through mechanization) under the implied risk that the government will not approve visas for expatriate staff.
Because Algerian law does not provide for temporary legal status for migrants, labor standards do not protect economic migrants working in the country without legal immigration status. The Ministry of Labor enforces labor standards, including compliance with the minimum wage regulation and safety standards. Companies that employ migrant workers or violate child labor laws are subject to fines and potentially prosecution.
The constitution provides workers with the right to join and form unions of their choice provided they are Algerian citizens. Algeria has ratified the ILO’s conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining but failed to enact legislation needed to implement these principles fully. The General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) is the largest union in Algeria and represents a broad spectrum of employees in the public sectors. The Algerian government liaises almost exclusively with the UGTA, however, unions in the education, health, and administration sectors meet and negotiate with government counterparts, especially when there is a possibility of a strike. Collective bargaining is legally permitted but not mandatory. Algerian law provides mechanisms for monitoring labor abuses and health and safety standards, and international labor rights are recognized under domestic law, but are only effectively regulated in the formal economy.
Sector-specific strikes occur often in Algeria, though general strikes are less common. The law provides for the right to strike, and workers exercise this right, subject to conditions. Striking requires a secret ballot of the whole workforce, and the decision to strike must be approved by a majority vote of the workers at a general meeting. The government may restrict strikes on several grounds, including economic crisis, obstruction of public services, or the possibility of subversive actions. Furthermore, all public demonstrations, including protests and strikes, must receive prior government authorization. By law, workers may strike only after 14 days of mandatory conciliation or mediation. The government occasionally offers to mediate disputes. The law states that decisions agreed to in mediation are binding on both parties. If mediation does not lead to an accord, workers may strike legally after they vote by secret ballot. The law requires that a minimum level of essential public services must be maintained, and the government has broad legal authority to requisition public employees. The list of essential services includes banking, radio, and television. Penalties for unlawful work stoppages range from eight days to two months imprisonment.