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Last update: April 2009

Bangladesh

Employment law 

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Employment Regulations

The minimum age for workers in Bangladesh is 18 years in factories and establishments. Contracts are made in the form of a letter of offer. Workers may also be engaged on verbal agreements. In government organisations and in some private organisations as well, a probation period exists for skilled or semi-skilled workers varying between three month's to one year and during this period either party may serve one month's notice for termination from or giving up of the job. In the private sector, the dignity of labour is ensured in accordance with the principles enunciated in the ILO convention and recommendations.

Source: European Commission - Asia Investment Facility

 

Work permits

For further information on how to obtain a visa or work permit please visit the IPTU visa section or alternatively click on the following links:

Bangladesh Embassy-visa information.

Application forms are available at the following link:
Bangladesh Embassy - visa application forms.

 

The employment market

Bangladesh offers a substantial manpower skilled, unskilled, educated and otherwise. There is a good supply of relatively low cost labour in the country. Many of them have a working knowledge of English language and possess the basic skills required by industries. Of late, there is an increasing supply of professionals, technologists and other middle and low-level skilled workers. They receive technical training from universities, colleges, technical training centres, polytechnic institutions etc. The expenditure incurred by an employer to train his employee is exempted from income tax.

Bangladesh, with a population of 128.1 million people, has a large and cheap labour force of around 60 million, comprised of 40 million agricultural jobs (growing at one percent a year) and 20 million non-agricultural jobs (growing at six percent a year). Over the past eighteen years, more than 1.25 million Bangladeshi have worked abroad, officially bringing in over seven billion dollars in foreign exchange. Those remittances have become an important source of foreign exchange in recent years.

All employers are expected to comply with the government's labour laws, which specify employment conditions, working hours, wage levels, leave policies, health and sanitary conditions, and compensation for injured workers. Freedom of association and the right to join unions is guaranteed in the Bangladesh Constitution. The right to form a union, subject to government approval, is also guaranteed. However, unions are not yet permitted to form in the export processing zones. Approximately 3.5% of Bangladesh's work force is unionised. Labour unions remain strongest in the jute, textile, and transportation sectors. However, growing fears were expressed that labour unionism may now be growing in the export processing zones, despite the theoretical bans mentioned above.

During 2000, there had been an increasing number of strikes and sit-ins to protest redundancies and back wage claims, even though the government has always backed the employers, and been prepared to end the strikes with force. Considerable concern has been expressed by many foreign investors in the export processing zones that the Bangladesh Government would give in to demands of the American Federation for Labour and Congress for Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) to allow unions into the zones. The AFL-CIO have been actively lobbying the American Government to seek to have Bangladesh suspended from receiving preferential access to the American market, until it accedes.

Bangladesh's labour unions, most of which are associated with political parties, have a reputation for militancy. In early 1995, clashes between jute mill labour groups and the police resulted in numerous injuries and a few deaths. Violence and the threat of violence by trade unions have produced wage increases in excess of productivity increases, raising unit labour costs.Worker layoffs, or the mere threat of reductionsin-force, can be expected to cause some of the most serious and confrontational labour disputes. Labour disputes do not necessarily need to be heard before a legal court. Many companies have found it effective to resolve issues before a Labour Tribunal. Labour in private sector enterprises is mostly non unionised and comparatively more productive. Productivity in Bangladesh has been affected by hartals (general strikes) called by political parties and movements, which take their toll in downtime by intimidating people from leaving their homes.

Source: Deloitte - International Tax and Business Guide / www.bakertillyinternational.com

 

Engagement and Dismissal

Check the link below for more details about hiring and firing people in Bangladesh:

Employing workers in Bangladesh

 

Employees' rights and remuneration

The Employment of Labour (Standing Orders) Act, 1965 Act VIII of 1965

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The Factories Act, 1965 (Act No. IV of 1965). An Act to repeal and, with certain amendments, re-enact the Factories Act, 1934 (XXV of 1934)

Registration under the Factories Act. Any manufacturing company that employs ten or more workers is required to be registered under the Factories Act, 1965 (Act IV of 1965) with the office of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Establishment. The Act is primarily to regulate working conditions and to ensure safety measures in the factory.

PLEASE CLICK HERE

 

The industrial relations ordinance, 1969

Ordinance No. 23 of 1969 / As amended up to 1996

PLEASE CLICK HERE

The Bangladesh Employers Federation (BEF) presents more than 90 percent of the employers in the country. It is affiliated with the International Organization of Employers (IOE). Mr. A.S.M. Quasem is the current President and Mr. C.K. Hyder is the Secretary General. ILO provides assistance to employers in the areas of human resources management, occupational safety and health, industrial relations, and non-discrimination in employment. Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), which is receiving assistance from ILO in the area of child labour, is a member of BEF.

Workers

There are over 22 national trade union federations in the country of which four are ICFTU affiliates. The trade union movement is severely fragmented and politicized. Unionization in the private sector industries is generally low and participation of women in the trade unions is even lower.  The ILO has encouraged the formation of the Bangladesh National Committee for Women Workers' Development and continued to provide support for its capacity building. Currently, sixteen federations have formed a loose group known as the National Coordination Committee on Workers' Education (NCCWE). ILO has been collaborating with the NCCWE in various activities which include training courses, workshops and seminars on collective bargaining, industrial relations, leadership development, and awareness about labour law and trade union rights.

Source: ILO - Bangladesh Report.

 

Working hours

At the moment there isn't any specific working hours that have been adopted by employers on a national scale. Although average working hours over the years for Bangladesh has fallen at a considerable rate to 32 hours a week from a staggering average of 59 hours a week in the 1990s, however there are still many report that state between twenty to thirty percent of Bangladesh's workforce work on a average 50 or more hours a week.

But a typical working week would consist of a 10 to 14 hours a day shift and a half-day on Friday. Also from the AAFLI's 1994 survey of garment factories found that, like adult workers, the child labour force is also in some parts of Bangladesh expected to work these hours.

Source: U.S. Department of Labour Bureau of International Labour Affairs

 

Pensions

Bangladesh has the third highest number of poor older people in the world, after India and China. The Boishka Bhata, or old-age allowance, started in 1998. The scheme is designed to reach the oldest and poorest 20 people in each ward (rural district).

The old-age allowance is means-tested and recipients are selected by the community. Eligibility starts at age 57, and half of the recipients have to be women. Additional criteria for selection is a lack of land or annual income below 3000 taka (US$42), chronic poor health and inability to work.

The pension of 165 taka (US$2.30) a month is paid in quarterly instalments. Recipients collect their pension from local branches of the government-run Sonali bank. Each recipient has a passbook and the Social Welfare Office keeps a register with sample signatures of all recipients.
Cost

The scheme is administered by the Ministry of Social Welfare and financed out of the state budget. The old-age allowance makes up 0.03% of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Coverage
In 2006, 1.32 million people received the old-age allowance.

Source: Help Age International

 

Termination of employment

The Employment of Labour (Standing Orders) Act, 1965 (as amended in 1985) (ELSOA), and the Industrial Relations Ordinance, 1969 (as amended in 1975) (IRO), regulate termination of employment in Bangladesh.

A distinction is made in the ELSOA between different types of termination of employment relationship. Not at the initiative of the employer, the employment relationship can be terminated, in particular, by the expiry of a fixed-term contract, the worker's resignation, or by the completion of the task for which the contract was concluded. (secs. 2, 19, ELSOA).

If a permanent worker desires to terminate his/her employment, one month's notice in the case of monthly rates workers, and 14 days' notice in the case of other workers, must be given in writing to the employer (sec. 19 (2), ELSOA).

Source: International Labour Organization

 

Wages rates

Regulations regarding minimum wages, hours of work and occupational safety and health are not strictly enforced. Minimum wages set by law, vary depending on occupation, but are generally ignored.  There is no national minimum wage. Instead, the Wage Commission sets wages industry-by-industry. In most cases, private sector employers ignore this wage increases, arguing that low labour productivity vitiates any arguments for set wage.

Source: US Department of State

 

For more information about Bangladesh's labour law contact:

BANGLADESH MINISTRY OF LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT
Contact Person :   Mr. Subrata Ray MaitraSr. Assistant Secretary(Admin)
Address :             Building-7, 5th Floor Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Phone :                7169215, Fax: 7168660
Web Address :      http://www.mole.gov.bd/

Please note that this information was last updated in April 2008. The Information shown is for guideline purposes.  For precise and up-to-date information please contact the IPTU team or visit the country government website. 

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