The Iraqi Labor Law No. (37) Of 2015 regulates the relationship between employers and workers and outlines their respective rights and obligations in Iraq. This includes wages, working hours, leave entitlements and working conditions. It also outlines rules and provisions to support specific groups such as women in the workplace.  

Unemployment continues to be a problem in Iraq. The following shows the unemployment rates according to the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Ministry of Planning for the years 2014 and 2016:

Employment and unemployment indicators



Unemployment rate for ages 15+



  Youth unemployment rate for ages (15-24)/males



  Youth unemployment rate for ages (15-24) / female



  Youth unemployment rate for ages (15-24)/ total



According to the latest report of the World Food Program, the unemployment rate has reached more than 40%.


To whom do the provisions of this law apply?

The provisions of this law apply to all workers in Iraq, except for:

  1. Government employees appointed in accordance with the Civil Service Law or special legal text or designation orders.
  2. Members of the armed forces, police and internal security personnel.


What is the minimum working age?

Article (7) states that the minimum age for work in Iraq is (15) years.


What rights do workers have?

The law provides a whole array of rights to the worker. According to Article 42, the worker enjoys the following rights:

  1. Get paid for the work they did.
  2. Enjoy daily and weekly rest periods in accordance with the work contract, collective agreements and the provisions of this law.
  3. Equality of opportunity and treatment in employment and employment, away from any form of discrimination.
  4. Harassment-free work environment.
  5. Respect in work relations within the work environment.
  6. Take advantage of vocational training programs.
  7. Informing and consulting them about matters that directly affect his work.
  8. Work in safe conditions and a healthy work environment.
  9. Negotiating to improve working conditions and conditions.
  10. Strike, in accordance with the provisions of this law.
  11. Freedom to establish and belong to trade unions.

When work is not considered as forced or mandatory?

A. Any works or services imposed on any person based on a conviction by a court of law, provided that they are carried out under the supervision and control of public authorities, and that the person is not leased to, or placed at the disposal of, individuals, companies or associations.

B. To perform any works or services that are part of the normal civil duties.

C. Any works or services that are usurped in emergency situations, meaning any circumstance that threatens the survival or prosperity of all or some of the population.


Workplace Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Union Rights in the law

  • Any violation or transgression of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment for whatever reason, especially discrimination between workers, whether direct or indirect discrimination, in everything related to vocational training, employment or work terms and conditions.

This law prohibits sexual harassment in the profession, whether it is in terms of searching for work, vocational training, employment, or terms and conditions of work.

  • Any other behavior that creates an intimidating, hostile or degrading work environment.
  • Also, according to Article (9), this law prohibits forced or compulsory labor in all its forms, including
  1. Slave labor or debt.
  2. Work with the restrictions attached to people.
  3. The clandestine trade in persons and migrant workers, which by its nature is a non-voluntary work.
  4. Housework that includes compelling factors.
  • It is prohibited to employ the worker on the condition that he does not join the labor union or relinquish his membership in it.

The rights of a worker when exposed to any form of forced labor, discrimination or harassment?

The worker has the right to resort to the court to file a complaint when is exposed to any form of forced labor, discrimination or harassment in employment and occupation. Whoever violates the provisions relating to child labor, discrimination, forced labor and sexual harassment shall also be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding one million Iraqi Dinars, or by one of these two penalties.


Are the conditions in the work contract nullified if any of the worker’s rights are waived?

Every condition in a contract or agreement whereby the worker waives any of the rights assigned  to them under the provisions of this law shall be void.


The law also sets out the obligations of the worker to abide by while employed.  

The worker must abide by the following:

  1. To perform their duties and responsibilities accurately and honestly in accordance with the work contract and work regulations in the establishments issued by the employer.
  2. Preserving the employer’s property placed in their custody and not keeping for themselves any records, bonds or papers related to the work.
  3. Not to disclose any secrets that he becomes acquainted with by virtue of his work.
  4. Follow the rules of occupational health and safety.
  5. Commitment to the dates of attendance and departure and rest periods as stipulated in the work system.
  6. Not to come to work in a state of apparent drunkenness or under the influence of drugs.
  7. They should not carry weapons in the workplace unless the nature of the work requires that and they are legally licensed.
  8. Not to pretend in order to get rid of the job.
  9. Not to receive any person at the workplace without the approval of the employer.
  10. Refrain from accepting any commission or other agents or contractors contracting with the employer except with his knowledge and approval, provided that such funds are placed in a special fund and distributed equally to the workers under the supervision of the employer, and these funds are considered as wage supplements.
  11. Does not perform work for others during the hours designated for work.
  12. They shall not use a machine, device or machine that they are not assigned to use by the employer.
  13. Not to hold meetings inside the workplace without the consent of the employer.


The rights of women in the workplace

According to Article (85) of the Iraqi Labor Law, it is prohibited to compel a pregnant or breastfeeding woman to perform additional work or any work considered by the competent health authority to be harmful to the health of the mother or child, or if the medical examination proves that there is a significant danger to the health of the mother or child. It is also prohibited to employ working women in work that is stressful or harmful to health.


Women and working at night

According to Article (86) of the Labor Law, a working woman may not be employed in night work unless:

  • Work is necessary or due to force majeure.
  • Preserving raw materials or perishable products.
  • If there is a force majeure that led to an unexpected halt in the project, provided that this is not repeated, but this provision does not apply to groups working in administrative or commercial work, workers in health or recreational services, and workers in transportation and communication services.

What is the daily rest period for woman in a  workplace?

According to the article 86, second, of the Iraqi labor law, a working woman shall be granted a daily rest period of not less than (11) eleven continuous  , among which shall necessarily be no less than (7) seven hours of the night period between (9) nine o’clock at night and (6) six o’clock in the morning.


What is the entitlement of a pregnant working woman of leave?

Article (87) states that the female worker shall be entitled to a leave for pregnancy and childbirth with full pay for a period of no less than (14) fourteen weeks per year. The pregnant female worker after giving birth shall continue to compulsorily enjoy the remainder of this leave, provided that the period of such leave shall not be less than (6) six weeks after giving birth.


What is the period entitled to a pregnant working woman if the birth is difficult?

The competent medical authority may decide to make the leave period of this article for a period not exceeding (9) nine months in the event of a difficult birth, the birth of more than one child, or the appearance of complications before or after delivery.


Return of a pregnant worker to the same job after pregnancy and maternity?

The working mother is guaranteed, at the end of her pregnancy, delivery and maternity leave, to return to the same or equal work and for the same wage.


Obligations of a pregnant working woman towards work

It is not permissible for a working mother during pregnancy and maternity leave to work in paid work for other employers. A female worker may not take advantage of the special maternity leave to take care of her child for other purposes. If it is proven that the female worker who enjoys this leave is employed in paid work for others, the leave shall be considered canceled and the employer may request the female worker to return to her work with him from the date he determines for that.


Can a working woman enjoy a maternity leave without pay?

According to Article (89), a working mother, with the consent of the employer, is entitled to enjoy a special maternity leave to take care of her child without pay for a period not exceeding one year, during which she spends taking care of her child if he does not complete one year of his age, and the work contract is considered suspended during this period.


Are there obligations for the employer regarding the working pregnant woman?

Certainly, the nursing worker is allowed two breastfeeding periods during the working day, not exceeding one hour, and the breastfeeding period is considered from the working time. A female worker who has one or more children under the age of six shall be exempted from work if the sick child needs care, for a period not exceeding (3) three days for each case that requires that, and this exemption results in her not being entitled to wages for the duration of her interruption from work.

According to Article (92), the employer who employs women must provide places for their rest in accordance with the requirements of the work, and is obligated to establish nurseries.


What is the penalty for violating the provisions of the entitlements of a pregnant working woman?

Article (94) stipulates that every violating employer shall be punished with a fine of no less than (100,000) one hundred thousand dinars and not more than (500,000) five hundred thousand dinars.




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