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Labour Law in Pakistan and Our Expert Labour Lawyers

Qanoon House is a trusted law firm in Pakistan, where we take pride in our exceptional team of Labour Lawyers. With their profound knowledge, unwavering dedication, and extensive experience in labour law matters, our Labour Lawyers are here to provide you with top-notch legal representation and counsel.

At Qanoon House, we understand the complexities and challenges that employees and employers face in the dynamic realm of labour law. Our Labour Lawyers possess a deep understanding of the intricacies of labour legislation in Pakistan and stay up to date with the latest legal developments in this field. They are well-equipped to handle a wide range of labour-related issues, including employment contracts, workplace disputes, termination matters, occupational health and safety, collective bargaining, and much more.

What sets our Labour Lawyers apart is their client-centric approach and commitment to achieving the best possible outcomes for their clients. They prioritize clear communication, actively listen to clients’ concerns, and provide tailored legal strategies that align with their specific needs and goals. Our Labour Lawyers are adept at negotiation, mediation, and litigation, ensuring that they employ the most suitable approach to protect your rights and interests.

When you choose Qanoon House for your labour law matters, you can trust that our Labour Lawyers will tirelessly advocate for you, guiding you through the complexities of labour law and striving for fair and just resolutions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and experience the expertise and professionalism of our Labour Lawyers at Qanoon House.

Labour Laws in Pakistan: Ensuring Worker Rights and Legal Protection

Labour laws in Pakistan have evolved and play a significant role in safeguarding workers’ rights and promoting fair employment practices. These laws regulate the relationship between workers, employers, trade unions, and the government. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has also played a crucial role in influencing labour laws globally, including those in Pakistan. In this article, we will explore the evolution and significance of labour laws, the framework of labour law practice in Pakistan, the constitutional provisions related to labour rights, critical conditions of labour laws, compensation and benefits for workers, social security measures, ensuring fair treatment and equal opportunities, and the role of labour lawyers in upholding worker rights.

Labour Law

Evolution and Significance of Labour Laws 

Labour laws in Pakistan have a rich historical background, with their origins dating back to the pre-partition era. The rise of labour laws coincided with the industrial revolution when the relationship between workers and employers transformed from small-scale production studios to large-scale factories. Workers sought better working conditions and the right to join or avoid joining labour unions, while employers aimed for a more predictable, flexible, and cost-effective workforce. The significance of labour laws lies in their ability to provide guidance and legal protection to employers, employees, trade unions, and other concerned agencies, ensuring higher productivity and fair wages and safeguarding against exploitation and unjust treatment.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) and its Influence 

The International Labour Organization, established in 1919 by the League of Nations and now a United Nations agency, is crucial in advancing social and economic justice by setting international labour standards. With 187 member states, including Pakistan, the ILO aims to promote accessible, productive, and sustainable work globally, focusing on freedom, equity, security, and dignity. As a member country, Pakistan must align its labour laws and policies with the standards set by the ILO, ensuring compliance and adherence to internationally recognized labour rights and principles.

Labour Law Practice in Pakistan Comprehensive Framework of Labour Laws

Labour laws in Pakistan encompass a comprehensive framework of ordinances, acts, rules, and regulations applicable to industrial, commercial, and labour establishments. These laws are scattered across various statutes and provide authentic guidance to employers, employees, trade unions, and concerned agencies regarding their responsibilities and legal rights. These laws aim to achieve higher productivity, reasonable profits, better wages, and protection against exploitation and unfair treatment.

Labour Law
Labour Law

Objectives of Labour Laws

The primary objectives of labour laws in Pakistan include the promotion of worker welfare, ensuring fair employment practices, providing safe and healthy working environments, facilitating collective bargaining and trade unions, and addressing issues related to child labour and bonded labour. These laws aim to balance the interests of employers and employees, fostering harmonious industrial relations.

Prevalent Labour Laws in Pakistan

Labour laws in Pakistan cover various aspects of employment, including working hours, leave entitlements, compensation for overtime and night work, protection against sexual harassment, health, and safety regulations, and social security benefits. Some prominent labour laws in Pakistan include the Factories Act, the West Pakistan Minimum Wage Rules, the Maternity Benefits Ordinance, and the Employees’ Old Age Benefits Act, among others. These laws provide a legal framework for employers and workers to ensure compliance and fair treatment.

Labour Laws under the Constitution of Pakistan 

Fundamental Rights and Principles of Policy: The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees several provisions related to labour rights under its Part II, which encompasses fundamental rights and principles of policy. Article 11 prohibits slavery, forced labour, and child labour. Article 17 ensures the freedom of association and the right to form unions, enabling workers to address their concerns collectively. Article 18 guarantees the right to choose any lawful profession, occupation, trade, or business, promoting individual autonomy and economic freedom. Article 25 ensures equality before the law and prohibits discrimination based on sex alone. Article 37(e) emphasizes the importance of just and humane working conditions, with specific provisions for safeguarding women and children and providing maternity benefits.

Prohibition of Slavery, Forced Labour, and Child Labour

The Constitution of Pakistan explicitly prohibits slavery, forced labour, and child labour in any form. These constitutional provisions reflect the commitment to uphold human rights and protect vulnerable individuals from exploitation. Specific laws have been enacted to combat these practices, including the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act and the Prohibition of Child Labour at Brick Kilns Act.

Labour Law
Labour Law

Freedom of Association and Right to Form Unions

The Constitution of Pakistan recognizes the freedom of association and the right to form unions as fundamental rights of citizens. This provision enables workers to organize and collectively bargain for their rights and interests. The Industrial Relations Act 2012 supports this constitutional right by allowing employees to form and join unions, engage in collective bargaining, and protect their rights through peaceful strikes and negotiations.

Right to Equality and Non-Discrimination

Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan ensures equality before the law and prohibits discrimination based on sex alone. This provision promotes a fair and non-discriminatory work environment where individuals are treated equally regardless of gender. However, it is essential to note that gender-based occupational segregation is allowed for specified posts or services that require duties and functions unsuited to a particular sex.

Securing Just and Humane Conditions of Work 

Under Article 37(e), the Constitution of Pakistan mandates securing just and humane work conditions for all workers. This provision emphasizes the importance of providing safe and healthy working environments, ensuring that children and women are not employed in occupations unsuitable for their age or sex. Additionally, it highlights the need for maternity benefits to protect women in employment.

Key Provisions of Labour Laws in Pakistan 

Annual Leave and Holidays: According to the Factories Act, an employee in Pakistan is entitled to 14 calendar days of paid annual leave after completing 12 months of continuous service. This provision ensures that workers can rest and rejuvenate, promoting work-life balance and employee well-being.

Pay on Public Holidays

Workers in Pakistan are entitled to paid public and religious festival holidays. The Ministry of Interior and provincial governments announce festival holidays at the beginning of each calendar year. These paid holidays allow workers to celebrate and observe their religious and cultural festivities without financial loss.

Weekly Rest Days under labour laws 

Workers in Pakistan are entitled to one day of rest per week, which typically falls on Sundays. According to the Factories Act, if a worker is required to work on a holiday, they can only be made to work for up to ten consecutive days without being given a compensatory holiday for a full day. This provision ensures that workers have sufficient rest periods to maintain their physical and mental well-being.

Bonded Labour 

Abolition and Legal Framework: Bonded labour in Pakistan is considered akin to slavery due to the coercive obligations attached to debt. The Constitution of Pakistan explicitly prohibits forced labour, and several laws have been enacted to combat the bonded labour system, such as the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act and the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act. These laws aim to eradicate bonded labour, protect the fundamental rights of individuals, and ensure freedom and equality.

Compensation and Benefits for Workers’ Overtime Compensation

Under the Factories Act, if a worker in Pakistan exceeds the stipulated working hours, typically 9 hours a day and 48 hours a week, they are entitled to overtime compensation. Overtime pay is set at double the rate of their ordinary income, ensuring fair remuneration for additional work. Seasonal factories may have extended working hours of up to 56 hours per week.

Labour Law
Labour Law

Night Work Compensation

While there is no specific pay premium for employees working overnight, other labour laws ensure the overall protection of workers’ rights and well-being. Employers must provide a safe working environment, including appropriate rest periods, to mitigate any adverse effects of night work on employees.

Protection Against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

Sexual harassment of workers is strictly prohibited by law in Pakistan. The Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 criminalizes sexual harassment and provides legal remedies for victims. Offenders can face imprisonment for up to three years, fines, or both. This provision aims to create a safe and respectful work environment for all employees.

Health and Safety Regulations under labour laws 

Employers in Pakistan have a legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy working environment for their employees. The Factories Act requires owners to ensure workplace safety and health, covering ventilation, sanitation, lighting, and machinery safety. While specific provisions for protective clothing are not explicitly mentioned, the Labour Protection Policy 2006 and Factories Act emphasize the need for employers to provide workers with necessary protective equipment.

Training for Health and Safety for labours 

Under the Factories Act, employers are responsible for providing instruction, training, and supervision to ensure the health and safety of their employees. This provision aims to enhance workers’ awareness of potential hazards and promote a culture of safety in the workplace. Employers must provide appropriate training programs to equip workers with the knowledge and skills to mitigate risks.

Labour Inspection System

Labour laws in Pakistan establish an independent labour inspection system to enforce compliance with the regulations. However, the inspection system operates at the provincial level, and no centralized inspection authority exists. Labour inspectors are vital in monitoring workplaces, identifying violations, and taking appropriate enforcement measures to ensure adherence to labour laws.

Social Security for Worker’s Pension Rights and Benefits

Social security laws in Pakistan provide for both full and partial/early pensions. To qualify for full assistance, a worker must have reached the age of 60 (55 for women) with a minimum of 15 years of contributions. A reduced pension is granted to workers aged 55 to 59 (men) or 50 to 54 (women) with at least 15 years of contributions. The pension amount is calculated based on the insured worker’s average monthly earnings and the number of years of contributions.

Dependent/Survivors’ Benefits under labour laws 

Social security laws also include provisions for dependent/survivors’ benefits. These benefits are extended to spouses, children, and parents of a deceased worker receiving a pension at the time of death. The deceased worker’s minimum pension amount is distributed among the dependents. This provision ensures some financial support for the family members of a deceased worker, offering economic security during difficult times.

Invalidity Benefits under labour laws 

In the case of non-occupational accidents, injuries, or diseases resulting in permanent invalidity, social security laws provide for invalidity benefits. The extent of the use is determined based on the assessed loss of earning capacity. Workers with a loss of earning capacity of 67% or more receive a monthly pension calculated as a percentage of their average monthly earnings.

Labour Law
Labour Law

Combating Child Labour

The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees that no child below fourteen shall be engaged in any factory, mine, or hazardous employment. Specific laws such as the Employment of Children Act and the Children (Pledging) of Labour Act have been implemented to reinforce this constitutional provision. Additionally, the 18th Constitutional Amendment introduced Article 25-A, making it the state’s responsibility to provide free and compulsory education to children aged five to sixteen, further promoting the eradication of child labour.

Domestic Workers

Rights and Challenges: Domestic workers who work in or for another person’s home face unique challenges regarding their rights and legal protection. While no specific law exists for domestic workers in Pakistan, the ILO has introduced a new convention that calls for providing fundamental rights to domestic workers. This includes clear employment contracts, adherence to regular working hours, minimum age and minimum wage regulations, and payment of wages in cash. Ensuring fair treatment and equal rights for domestic workers is crucial for improving their working conditions and protecting their rights.

Ensuring Fair Treatment, Equal Opportunities, and Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value

Labour laws in Pakistan promote equal remuneration for work of equal value between men and women. The West Pakistan Minimum Wage Rules, 1962, emphasize this principle, although no specific law currently addresses equal remuneration. However, efforts are underway to develop a model provincial law on anti-discrimination that local legislative assemblies could adopt to promote equal pay further.

Non-Discrimination in Employment

The Constitution of Pakistan prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, religion, caste, sex, residence, or place of birth for citizens qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan. While this provision applies explicitly to public-sector jobs, similar requirements for non-discrimination in private-sector employment can be inferred.

Equal Choice of Profession

 While the Constitution of Pakistan upholds the right to choose any lawful profession, occupation, trade, or business, it also allows for gender-based occupational segregation if certain posts or services require duties and functions unsuited to a particular sex. This provision must be interpreted and implemented in a manner that does not discriminate against individuals based solely on gender and promotes equal opportunities in the workplace.

Maternity Leave and Benefits

Female employees in Pakistan are entitled to a maximum of twelve weeks (three months) of maternity leave with full pay. The Maternity Benefit Ordinance 1958 mandates this provision, ensuring women have adequate time to recover from childbirth and bond with their newborns. Additionally, the Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance of 1965 provides prenatal and postnatal medical care to women entitled to maternity benefits.

Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining

Labour laws in Pakistan recognize the freedom of association and the right to form unions as fundamental rights. Employees have the right to join and form unions to protect their interests and engage in collective bargaining with employers. The Industrial Relations Act 2012 supports collective bargaining rights and provides a legal framework for peaceful negotiations between unions and employers.

Freedom to Join and Form a Union

Workers in Pakistan have the freedom to join and form unions to protect their rights and collectively address their concerns. This constitutional provision ensures that workers have a platform to voice their grievances and negotiate better terms and conditions of employment.

Freedom of Collective Bargaining

The Industrial Relations Act 2012 allows employees to bargain collectively through union representatives. This process lets workers negotiate with employers for improved working conditions, wages, benefits, and other employment-related matters.

Right to Strike and Limitations

 While the right to strike is not considered a fundamental right in Pakistan, workers can engage in peaceful strikes as a form of collective protest. However, certain limitations and regulations are imposed to maintain public order and prevent excessive disruptions. Government orders can prohibit strikes lasting longer than 30 days, and parties or the government can compel arbitration to resolve disputes, which may limit the right to strike.

Role of Labour Lawyers and Qanoon House Services 

Labour lawyers are crucial in safeguarding workers’ rights, advocating for fair employment practices, and ensuring compliance with labour laws. They provide legal expertise and representation to workers, employers, and trade unions in various matters, including collective bargaining, union creation, dispute resolution, and model in legal proceedings.

Services Provided by Qanoon House

Qanoon House offers various services related to labour law practice in Pakistan. They work with clients from industries with labour unions, such as law enforcement and education, handling cases involving collective bargaining, union creation, and negotiation between unions and management. Additionally, Qanoon House provides legal representation in disputes through lawsuits or out-of-court settlements, including arbitration. Their team can also serve as hearing officers in contested representation matters, ensuring fair and impartial proceedings.