KAZI LAW CHAMBER

"Be you ever so high, the law is above you"

Labour Laws of Bangladesh: Know Your Rights

Barrister Kazi Zawad Bodruddoza

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28 May 2024

The Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006, supplemented by the Bangladesh Labour Rules, 2015, is the main legislation governing the rights and terms of service for workers in Bangladesh. It ensures the rights of workers regarding wages, working hours, leaves, working conditions, and provides safeguards against unfair termination, dismissal, layoff, or retrenchment. Conclusion

Forum / Legal Action

  • Labour Court: Workers can file a case in the Labour Court if their rights are infringed.
  • Labour Appellate Tribunal: Appeals against Labour Court decisions can be filed here.
  • High Court Division: Against Labour Appellate Tribunal Decisions


⦿ KEY PROVISIONS OF THE BANGLADESH LABOUR ACT, 2006:


Working Hours and Overtime

  • Standard Hours: 8 hours per day, excluding meal times.
  • Overtime: Additional 2 hours, making a total of 10 hours per day maximum.

Allowances and Benefits

  • Festival Allowances: Two allowances each year,  each not exceeding one month’s gross pay.
  • Gratuity: Minimum 30 days' wages for every completed year of service.
  • Maternity Benefits: Paid leave for 8 weeks before and 8 weeks after delivery.
  • Provident Fund: Subject to the company’s policy and worker demand (section 264)
  • Participation and Welfare Funds: (section 264)

Provident Fund

Generally, it is at the discretion of the employer to establish a provident fund. (Section 264(1)). However, if three-fourths of the total workers in an establishment in the private sector demand for a provident fund, the employer must establish such a fund (section 264(10)). If a provident fund is established, the company can formulate its own rules for managing the fund, but these rules must align with the provisions outlined in the 17th Chapter of the BLA and Bangladesh Labor Rules 2015.

Workers' Profit Participation and Welfare Funds

If any company or establishment has a paid-up capital of at least taka 1 crore or permanent assets valued at least taka 2 crore on the last day of an accounting year, or operates within specific sectors such as 100% export-oriented industrial sectors or 100% hundred percent foreign exchange investing sectors or within export-processing zones, such companies are required to establish Participation Fund, Welfare Fund, and Workers' Welfare Foundation Fund. These funds are set up under the Bangladesh Sramik Kallyan Foundation Ain, 2006. Employers are required to contribute 5% of the previous year's net profit to these funds in the proportion of 80:10:10, respectively, within 9 months of each year's end.

Holidays and Leave

  • Weekly Holiday: 1½ days per week.
  • Casual Leave: 10 days annually.
  • Sick Leave: 14 days annually with full wages, if certified by a medical practitioner.
  • Annual / Earned Leave with wages: This applies to workers who have completed 1 (one) year of continuous service as stipulated in section 117(1)(a) - 1 day for every 18 days worked in the preceding year, with a maximum of 60 days' earned leave permitted in a given year. Moreover, any worker has the option to receive cash in exchange for their unused earned leave (Rule 107). However, they cannot cash out more than half of their earned leave at the end of the year, and cashing out is limited to once per year.
  • Festival Holidays: 11 days annually with wages. However, a worker may be required to work on a festival holiday, but they must be compensated with two days of holiday with wages and an additional substitute holiday.
  • Maternity Leave: 8 weeks before and 8 weeks after delivery.

Procedure for Taking Leave (section 10)

  • Application: A worker seeking leave of absence must submit a written application to their employer, including their address during the leave period.
  • Employer Response: Within 7 days of receiving the application, or 2 days before the requested leave begins (whichever comes first), the employer or an authorized officer must issue an order. If the requested leave is to start on the day of application or within 3 days, the order must be given on the day of application due to urgent reasons.
  • Approval/Refusal: If the requested leave is approved, a leave pass will be issued to the worker. However, if the leave is denied or postponed, the reasons must be recorded in a dedicated register and communicated to the worker before the expected commencement date of the leave.
  • Extension of Leave: If a worker on leave wishes to extend their absence and is entitled to do so, they must apply in writing (by registered post) before the leave expires. The employer will then send a written response to the worker's leave address, either granting or refusing the extension.

Unauthorized Absence from Work

Section 27(3A) of the BLA addresses unauthorized absence. It is recommended to include this provision in employment agreements. If a worker is absent for 10 consecutive days without notice or permission, the company will issue a notice instructing the worker to explain the absence and resume work within 10 days. If the worker fails to respond or return, an additional 7-day period is given. Failure to comply results in the worker being deemed released from service from the first day of absence.

Workers on Probation

According to section 4(8) of the Bangladesh Labour Act (BLA), the probation period for clerical workers is 6 months, and for other workers, it is 3 months. For skilled workers, this period can be extended by an additional 3 months if their work quality is undetermined within the initial period. After completing the probation period, a worker is considered permanent even without a confirmation letter.

Termination by Employer:

According to section 26 of the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006, the employer must follow specific procedures for terminating a worker's employment. For permanent workers, the employer must give a written notice of 120 days if the worker is paid monthly, and 60 days for other workers. Alternatively, the employer can terminate the worker without notice by paying wages for the specified notice period. Additionally, the worker is entitled to compensation equal to 30 days' wages for each completed year of service or gratuity, whichever is higher.

Resignation by Worker:

A permanent worker who wishes to resign must give the employer a written notice 60 days in advance. If the worker wants to resign without notice, they can do so by paying the employer an amount equivalent to the wages for the notice period.

Upon resigning, a permanent worker is entitled to compensation from the employer. If the worker completes 5 to less than 10 years of continuous service, they receive compensation at the rate of 14 days' wages for each completed year of service. If the worker completes 10 or more years of continuous service, they receive compensation at the rate of 30 days' wages for each completed year of service. Alternatively, they receive gratuity if applicable, whichever amount is higher.

Discharge Due to Illness

A worker may be dismissed from their job due to physical illness, mental incapacity, or ongoing ill-health certified by a registered medical practitioner. If a dismissed worker has completed at least one year of continuous service, the employer must provide compensation equivalent to 30 days' wages for each year of service, or gratuity if applicable, whichever amount is higher.

Death of a Worker

If a worker passes away while in service for a period exceeding two years continuously under an employer, the employer is obligated to provide compensation equivalent to 30 days' wages for each completed year of service, or gratuity if applicable, whichever amount is higher.

Retrenchment

Section 20 of the Act governs the termination of employees due to redundancy, allowing any worker to be retrenched from service on such grounds. If a worker has served continuously under an employer for at least one year, the employer must adhere to specific steps. This includes providing one month's written notice explaining the reasons for retrenchment or paying wages for the notice period if no notice is given. Additionally, the employer must send copies of the notice to the Chief Inspector or another specified officer, as well as to the collective bargaining agent of the establishment, if applicable. Moreover, the employer is required to compensate the retrenched worker with 30 days' wages for each year of service, or gratuity if available, whichever amount is higher.

Dismissal from service

A worker may be dismissed from service without notice or wages in lieu of notice if the worker is convicted of any criminal offence or found guilty of misconduct after following the prescribed procedures for punishment.

Procedure: Dismissal for Misconduct

Before imposing a punishment for misconduct, the worker must receive a written notice containing the allegations or charges, and should be given at least 7 days to submit their explanation. Thereafter, an enquiry committee, comprising an equal number of representatives from the employer and employees, must be formed, with a maximum of 6 members. During the enquiry, the worker has the right to present oral and documentary evidence. The enquiry should conclude within 60 days and the enquiry committee will submit its investigation report to the disciplinary authority. If the worker is found guilty, the disciplinary authority must provide a written notice specifying the proposed penalty and allow the worker at least 7 days to respond. The disciplinary authority will then make a decision based on the inquiry report and the worker's response. Thereafter, the management will approve the punishment order, and a copy will be communicated to the worker.

 

⦿ Employment Practices

Appointment Letter and Identity Card

Under Section 5 of the BLA, every worker is entitled to an appointment letter and an identity card with a photograph. Employers must provide these documents upon employment.

Maintenance of Service Book

Employers must maintain a service book for each worker, which includes their photograph and details such as name, parents' names, address, date of birth, identification particulars, designation, department, ticket or card number, previous employer details, employment period, wages and allowances, leave taken, and conduct.

Requirement to Maintain a Register of Workers

Employers must keep a register of workers available for inspection by the Inspector during working hours. The register must include details such as the worker's name, date of birth, parents' names, date of appointment, job nature, designation, department, work hours, rest intervals, day of rest, group (if applicable), and shift relay information.

Certificate Relating to Service

Workers are entitled to a service certificate from their employer upon retrenchment, discharge, dismissal, removal, retirement, or termination of service.

Group Insurance

Employers with at least 100 permanent workers must introduce group insurance in accordance with existing insurance laws.

Employment of Children and Adolescents

Section 34(1) of the BLA prohibits the employment of children under 14 years of age. Adolescents may be employed if they have a fitness certificate from a registered medical practitioner. This certificate must be kept by the employer, and the adolescent must carry a token referencing the certificate while at work.