An overview of the current labor law in Iraq

This law replaces the old Labor Law No. 71 of 1987. The issuance of the new labor law took a long time as the draft law went through many amendments and was under discussion from 2005 to 2010 with international, local and governmental bodies before being presented to the State Council. The issuance of the new labor law was necessary, given the major changes that have occurred over the past thirty years and the transformation of the Iraqi economy from socialism to an open economy, especially with the entry of migrant workers into Iraq.

To whom does this law apply?

The new labor law applies to all employees in Iraq (i.e., including Iraqis and foreigners) with the exception of public sector employees who are appointed in accordance with the Civil Service Law and all security forces.

What are the most important observations that must be taken into consideration in this law?

In terms of its content, the new labor law appears more detailed than its predecessor. It aims, as described by the Iraqi Parliament, to address the shortcomings of the old law and harmonize Iraqi labor regulations with international labor principles ratified by Iraq.


The new labor law differentiates between jobs according to the circumstances and duties performed by employees, knowing that the new labor law includes more than 170 articles that include a number of new terms and additions. These articles have been drawn up after consultation with the labor community, trade unions, entrepreneurs and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. The most important feature of this law is that the new labor law ratifies all international labor-related standards and agreements that were not ratified by the previous law and which remained pending. The new labor law is fair to employers and employees and is comparable to labor laws in developed countries.

There are many foreign workers working in Iraq. Does this law include them?

In addition to the above, the new labor law regulates the work of foreigners in the country, and devotes a special section to the rights of foreign workers, the work permits and visas that must be obtained, and the requirements and conditions for obtaining them. In addition, the new labor law gives the foreign worker the right to submit his complaint directly to the inspection committees of the Ministry of Labor, in the event of any violation. The new labor law also emphasized the principle of equality between workers, to eliminate any direct or indirect discrimination, in accordance with international standards.

What is the contractual relationship in labor law?

With regard to regulating the contractual relationship between the employer and the employee, the new labor law carefully regulates these relationships by stating the requirements of labor agreements, the rights of both parties, and the mechanism for settling any disputes with the responsible committees. In this regard. In addition, the new labor law clearly defines the conditions for cancellation and termination of the employment agreement, in order to cover all possible circumstances that may occur during the validity of the agreement. It also specifies in a specific way the amount of compensation relating to the employment agreement as a result of breach, cancellation, dismissal and termination, allowing both parties to be aware of the ramifications of their actions in the context of the employment agreement. Furthermore, the new labor law establishes one or more labor courts in each governorate that govern all disputes that may arise from labor agreements. Hence, the new labor law differs from the old law and covers all aspects of work comprehensively. The following are the formations stipulated in the new labor law:

  • Forming a termination committee based on instructions issued by the Minister of Labor. This committee is competent to consider appeals submitted against service termination decisions, and the decisions of the aforementioned committee are subject to appeal before the labor court within thirty days from the date of notification or supposed notification.
  • Forming at least one labor court in each governorate consisting of: a judge nominated by the Supreme Judicial Council based on the proposal of the President of the Court of Appeal, a representative of the most representative General Federation of Trade Unions, and a representative of the most representative Employers’ Federation.

This court has jurisdiction to consider civil and criminal lawsuits, issues and disputes referred to in the new labor law, the pension and social security law for workers, and temporary decisions that involve procedures that fall within the jurisdiction of the labor courts.

Mechanism for terminating the employment contract and restrictions, if any

Similar to the previous Labor Law 71 of 1987, the new Labor Law continues to restrict the termination of an employment contract, and places restrictions on how an employment relationship can be terminated. However, the new labor law provides more details in such a situation including dividing termination cases into general cases, actions by the employer, or actions by the employee.

One of the important notes that must be noted here is that the new labor law emphasizes the legal concept of a mutual agreement between the employer and the employee in order to terminate the employment contract, and the employer (for his part) may not do this except by sending a warning to the employee, unless This is according to one of the cases specified in the new labor law.

Force majeure and employee death are two new situations that have been added to the general service termination cases, and are applied according to special conditions set out in the new labor law. This is in addition to other general cases such as:

  • If the employee is sentenced to imprisonment. The law differentiates between imprisonment for a period of one year or more, and imprisonment for a period of less than a year.
  • The death of the employer if his personality was taken into account in the employment contract, and this cannot be completed with the employer’s heirs.
  • If the project is liquidated pursuant to a final judicial ruling or voluntary liquidation with the approval of the Minister of Labor.
  • When the parties mutually decide to terminate this Agreement, as set forth in writing.
  • At the end of the contract period if it is of a limited duration.
  • Completing the work or performing the service if the contract specifies a specific work or service.
  • The employee’s resignation, taking into account the procedures stipulated in the law in this regard.

When can the employer terminate the employment contract on his part?

The employer may terminate the employment contract on his part, in the following exclusive cases, provided that prior written notice is provided to the worker at least 30 days before the date of termination. If this notice is not provided, the employee is entitled to compensation equivalent to his salary for the notice period. Such cases are:

  • If the employee becomes ill with an illness that renders him unable to work and is not cured within six months with an official medical report.
  • When the employee becomes disabled by 75% or more and is unable to work, this is proven by an official medical report.
  • If the employee completes retirement age in accordance with the provisions of the Iraqi Retirement and Social Security Law.
  • When the working conditions in the establishment require reducing the workload, subject to the approval of the Minister of Labor.
  • When an employee acts in violation of his duties under the employment contract.
  • If the employee impersonates a false identity, or submits forged documents.
  • If the employee does not show acceptable competence during the probationary period.
  • If the employee commits a serious error that leads to huge losses and harms the work, workers, or production, based on a final judicial ruling.

Does the worker have the right to terminate the employment contract? Do notifications need to be sent?

The worker may terminate the employment contract on his part, without the need to send notice, in the following cases:

  • If the employer violates any of his obligations stipulated in the new labor law, the labor regulations, or the employment contract.
  • If the employer commits a felony or misdemeanor against the worker or a member of his family at or outside work.
  • If there is a serious danger threatening the employee’s safety or health, provided that the employer is fully aware of this danger and does not work to remove it.