Egypt Watch

Egyptian Senate refuses amendments to improve work environment for women

The Egyptian Senate rejected all proposed amendments to the draft labour law submitted by the government to ensure the improvement of the work environment for women and the prohibition of violence, harassment, and discrimination.

Among the articles that the Senate refused to add in the draft labour law is an article prohibiting any act, behaviour or threat that aims, leads to or is likely to lead to psychological or sexual harm in the work environment, including harassment and gender-based violence.

The Minister of Manpower, Muhammad Saafan, rejected the suggestions, arguing that the penal code is sufficient in such cases. Some senators responded that their proposals are in line with the objectives of the National Human Rights Strategy, and ILO Convention No. 190. They also emphasised that securing the work environment from harmful practices has nothing to do with punitive texts.

The Senate also rejected a proposal to create a workplace violence and discrimination unit in the Ministry of Manpower that would develop manuals for anti-violence policies, set up a complaints hotline, and provide psychological support.

Also, the government and the Senate refused a proposal to raise the minimum fine to be imposed on the employer in case of committing the crime of forced labour. The government insisted on maintaining the minimum amount of EGP 2,000, while it agreed to raise the maximum to EGP 20,000.

The House of Union and Labour Services in Egypt issued a statement last month describing the draft labour law submitted by the government to the Senate as worse than it was.