Industry Update/National Response
- As of 31 May, 77 factories had partially resumed operation, and an estimated 58,638 workers returned to work.
- An amendment to Defence Order No. 6 was announced on 31 May allowing the 24 most affected economic sectors and facilities to deduct 30 per cent of workers’ salaries based on mutual agreement, and 60 per cent of workers salaries who are not performing any work during the lockdown, without any required consent from the workers themselves or the Ministry of Labour. Moreover, employers can deduct 50 per cent of the annual leave of employees not performing any work on the field or remotely, under the condition that they have not worked for 30 days, consecutive or not, from when Defence Order No. 6 came into effect until the issuance of the amended order.
- On 21 May, Jordan’s Ministry of Labour and the ILO signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen collaboration to advance labour inspectors. Under the framework of the agreement, a Better Work section will be established within the Directorate of Inspection and a comprehensive training plan will be adopted to build the capacity of labour inspectors in addition to digitize the work of the Inspectorate Department.
- The Prime Minister decided to resume trading in the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) as of Sunday, 10 May 2020.
- The government has announced the resumption of all economic sectors as of 6 May 2020, including those that were not allowed to operate fully during the lockdown. The sectors will be permitted to work at full production capacity provided that the percentage of Jordanian employment in the establishment does not fall below 75 per cent. The government is easing lockdown restrictions by extending the mobility hours window from 8am until 7pm.
- On 26 May, Jordan’s public sector employees began a phased return to work. The Jordanian Civil Service Bureau issued a set of procedures to help institutions regarding the resumption of work for public sector employees.
- Defence Order No. 11 released on 3 May 2020 addresses the government’s social distancing instructions to gradually relax curfew restrictions to allow various productive, service, economic and commercial sectors to operate, and compel business owners, citizens and residents to apply preventive and precautionary methods to reduce practices that may cause transmission of infection among people.
- The Jordanian government announced on 3 May defence order no. 10 related to extending the submission period of the tax returns and tax dues to the Income and Sales Tax Department during the official holiday until end of June 2020.
- On 26 April, the government launched an online platform for migrant workers to apply to return to their home countries. Regardless of legal status, applicants will be exempted from overstaying or any work permit fees due to the current situation in the kingdom. Based on a statement by the Ministry of Labour, foreign workers in Jordan wishing to leave the Kingdom amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to withdraw their social security benefits before their departure. Foreign workers will be able to receive their financial entitlements after registering their application through Hemayeh platform and obtaining the MoL approval on their requests. Starting 31 May for a period of two weeks, the Ministry of Labour will reactivate the platform for foreign workers requests to travel back home. Exemption of fees still apply.
- The government has announced a number of defence orders to protect people’s wellbeing and rights. The recently issued defence order number (6) aims to ensure minimum layoffs and addresses conditions for institutions and individuals to benefit from support programmes in light of the economic challenges caused by the pandemic crisis. Defence order 9 released on 16 April aims to ensure livelihood and job stability for workers and support the private sector through setting up a programme for protecting businesses, freelance workers and daily wage workers.
- The government has provided additional guidance, including initial financial support such as suspending some provisions of social security payments. Companies have the option of stopping contributions to the Old Age Program (keeping only disability and health insurance) for March-May 2020. Where firms choose to do so (they have the option to do so for all or some employees only), they will only pay a 5.25% contribution rate, instead of 21.75%. All employees will still be covered with Disability, Death, Unemployment, and Maternity insurance. Those employees who would be affected by a change in payments by their employer will still be able to contribute voluntarily during this period. Firms will also be given the choice to pay contributions in instalments until the end of 2023.
- The government also issued safety instructions to prevent the spread of coronavirus for employers and employees. The nine guidelines relate to grocery shops and supermarkets, drinking water bottles, gas cylinder transportation, bakeries, shopping centres and supermarkets that sell food supplies, the distributors of food supplies (home delivery), a shopper’s guide, a pharmacies guide and a guide for large industrial institutions. Better Work Jordan supported the translation of the guide to large industrial establishments to English and disseminated it to the union and employers’ associations in the apparel industry.
- The Ministry of Labour has announced a number of measures to ensure the protection of workers health and labour rights. It has established a hotline to receive complaints from workers on labour violations, and issued nine guides for vital sectors on COVID19 safety measures (i.e. food supplies, shopping, bakeries, pharmacies, grocery, water, gas, salary transfer, industrial establishments). Better Work Jordan supported the translation of the guide to large industrial establishments to English and disseminated it to the union and employers’ associations in the apparel industry.
- Amid the growing developments related to the pandemic, The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) launched a JD500 million soft financing programme to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The central bank also introduced measures related to restructuring of loans to individuals and institutions.
- The government is promoting e-wallets, which will ensure wage payment as well as health safety since wages will not be paid in cash/paper bills. To date, 159,000 e-wallets have been created over a span of one month.
- The government and the Social Security Corporation (SSC) are putting plans to protect all workers that are working in the formal and informal sector – depending on the status of the enterprise (i.e. enterprises that need temporary support to sustain its business during the crises, and enterprises that are closing down). These measures may include: the utilization of the unemployment fund to pay wages for the employees that lost their jobs, employees their employers has currently no capacity to cover wages for, daily workers, and subscribers in SSC on a voluntary basis. The unemployment fund; and the possibility of using other funds available at the CBJ.
- During the previous curfew period from 19-31 March, all employees have been considered on paid leave regardless if they were teleworking or not. The government has also decided to suspend the annual salary increase for employees of public, civil and military institutions, excluding civil and military retirees, for 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 on the state budget.
- Travel to and from Jordan has been restricted since 17 March until further notice.
- As of 2 June, the Ministry of Health reported 755 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.
- To learn more about the government’s COVID-19 response and labour-related defence orders and regulations, please follow this link.
Factory Service Update
- As of early May, Better Work delivered seven sessions of virtual training sessions on workplace communication to union labour committee members. Upcoming training sessions, based on factory request, include:
- Training for PICC committees
- Customized supervisory skills training (SST)
- Factory visits, including assessments, are suspended until further notice.
- The Better Work Jordan team is delivering virtual advisory services to management.
- In the absence of union activities, Better Work consultants are conducting calls to workers in their dormitories to raise awareness on the pandemic. As of 22 April, around 700 calls were conducted to migrant workers in their housing facilities.
- Better Work Jordan has commenced virtual training services to factories.
Additional Better Work Activities
- As factories in the southern region of the factory are gradually returning to business, Better Work Jordan resumes collaboration with MoL. Through a secondment programme, the MoL Labour inspectors are conducting visits to factories in the areas and Better Work Jordan Enterprise Advisors are conducing virtual calls with factory management.
- Better Work Jordan is liaising with all stakeholders to limit the impact on workers and business and identify a collective approach to support the industry. Upcoming training sessions include:
- Workplace Communication
- Covid-19 awareness raising
- Sexual Harassment Prevention
- Personal Hygiene
- Advanced PICC training