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Perspectives on the Palestinian Labour Law: Arbitrary Dismissal

The Institute of Law at Birzeit University organized, with support from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, on 8 March 2011 a legal encounter entitled “Perspectives on the Palestinian Labour Law: Arbitrary Dismissal” by the speaker Dr. Salem Aldadouh, lecturer at the Faculty of Law – Alazhar University.

In the beginning of the meeting, Ms. Leen Altunsi, IoL coordinator in Gaza, welcomed the speaker Dr. Salem Aldadouh, and stressed the importance of continuing cooperation between Birzeit University Institute of Law and Alazhar University- Faculty of Law in the Legal Encounters Program for the year 2011.

Dr. Aldadouh began with a brief introduction on the Labor Law, explaining the different terminology like work contract, worker and his/her qualification. He then explained the labor laws effective in the Gaza Strip, which were promulgated under the British Mandate between 1925 and 1941. He explained that such laws were unjust vis-à-vis working married women and treated them like a minor child, considering them unqualified to act or work and treating them as under qualified persons. He also addressed the question of minor children and the precedents issued in terms of such provisions. On the other hand he addressed the issue of provident pay, which amount to one month for every year in service unless the worker is arbitrarily dismissed; in which case he would be entitled to two-month pay for every year in service.

In a second part, Dr. Adadhouh spoke of the philosophy of arbitrary layoff and reasons for termination of a work contract, in addition to tackling the issue of short-term contract. He explained the difference between resignation and arbitrary dismissal, explicating that arbitrary dismissal is a kind of punishment inflicted by an employer among a worker. He mentioned that the Palestinian Labor Law, in effect since 25 December 2001, and subsequent court decisions usually give right to the employer since workers cannot prove their rights and entitlements without witnesses. The judge cannot adjudicate upon personal discretion in such cases and rarely have judges pronounced a ruling in favor of a worker arbitrarily dismissed except in one case. In the said case, the employer must issue a letter to the worker stating that the worker in question is dismissed. In the end of his intervention, Dr. Aldahdouh stressed that labor laws do not fall by prescription and that it is necessary to amend a number of provisions in the Labor law, benefiting from other applicable laws in the area, mainly the Jordanian one.

In the end of the encounter, which was attended by forty-eight students from the Faculty of Law in Alazhar University, questions and comments were received from the floor and the audience exhibited high level of interaction and interest in the proposed topic.