The Parliament of Georgia greatly expanded women’s labor rights via amendments to the Labor Code that were shaped by the guidance and expertise of the USAID-funded Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia Activity (PROLoG). Passed on September 29, 2020 after 18 months of discussions with different social partners and intense public and parliamentary debates, the Labor Code amendments promote gender equality in the workplace and provide new protections for all workers.
The amendments expand protections for pregnant women and mothers, who could be denied the right to return to the same job and working conditions following maternity leave, child care leave, or leave due to adoption of a newborn under the previous version of the law. The amendments further support the professional development of women by requiring employers to consider participation in professional trainings or qualification upgrading courses as work time for which employees will be remunerated in cases where the employer has required the participation of the employee.
Under the amendments, the scope of prohibition of discrimination in employment and professional activities within labor and pre-contractual relations has been expanded as well, and will also apply to pre-contractual selection criteria and employment conditions and promotion on all levels of professional hierarchy regardless of the sphere of activity. The amendments also prohibit discrimination on the grounds of a health condition.
Protections for all workers are further strengthened by requiring written employment agreements for all employment relationships exceeding one month.
Most significantly, the amendments have established an effective enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance to the code. According to Dimitri Tskitishvili, Georgian Member of Parliament (MP), “as a result of the adoption of this amendment package, Georgia now has significantly improved legal standards for labor rights and a solid legal foundation to establish an independent and fully-pledged Labor Inspection.”
PROLoG became involved in the legislative reform efforts in 2018 when the Parliament’s Gender Equality Council (GEC) requested experts to advise on the drafting of a legislative package on women’s labor rights. PROLoG experts Anna Maisuradze and Zizi Chkhaidze collaborated with the GEC to draft a law and explanatory notes that later became part of Labor Code reforms. The draft law not only reflected European directives and international obligations, but also included recommendations prepared by PROLoG legal aid grantee NGOs based on strategic litigation in common courts.
The GEC supported an inclusive and participatory process to amend the Labor Code and, before the adoption of the legislative changes, PROLoG conducted several meetings with relevant stakeholders to discuss the existing practices and challenges in women’s pre-contractual and labor relations, as well as future prospects for reform. PROLoG’s experts also participated in discussions with the Ministry of Labor, Health, Social Affairs, MPs, and business sector representatives.
Following the passage of the amendments, Mr. Tskitishvili expressed his gratitude to USAID for its “continuous support and significant contribution in this very long and challenging journey to improve the labor rights and standards in Georgia for the benefit of the employees and economic prosperity of the country.”