This is the first post of a monthly series featuring labour and employment related issues in Yemen. The series will provide a comprehensive review of most employment-related issues including statutory and contractual issues, remuneration and working hours, statutory leave entitlements, and termination and gratuity. 

  1. Statutory and Contractual Issues

The relationship between employers and employees is governed by the provisions of the Yemeni Labour Law No. 5 of 1995 as amended in April 2008 (the "Law") and the employment contract. The Law guarantees employees equal rights and opportunities at work and prohibits any form of discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, colour, beliefs or language. The Law also imposes an obligation upon employers to create fair job opportunities for disabled persons, according to their resources and available opportunities.

As a general rule, employment contracts are made in writing and specify the following:

  • remuneration;
  • type of work to be carried out;
  • place of work;
  • date of commencement;
  • duration of employment contract.

In the event a written contract is not in place, the burden of proof is placed on the employee, who must demonstrate, using all permissible evidences, the employment relationship.

Some of the highlights of the Law are as follows:

  • the probation period of an employee may not exceed six months, and it is prohibited for an employee to be employed on probation more than once for the same position;
  • unless otherwise stipulated, the duration of the employment shall be for an indefinite period;
  • if the relationship between the employer and employee continues after the expiry of an employment contract term, such contract shall be considered extended for an indefinite term;
  • in the case where the parties are in the process of negotiating an expired employment contract, the duration of such contract shall automatically be extended for a period of three months;
  • copies of all employment contracts must be deposited with the competent Ministry office;
  • in the event of a change of employer, unless otherwise agreed, the previous employer's obligations are automatically transferred to the new employer.

Strictly speaking, the Law imposes an obligation upon employers to notify the Labour Office at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour of any vacancies within seven days of the vacancy arising, and thereafter, the employer may fill such vacancies only if the Ministry fails, within 15 days, to nominate employees for the vacant positions.

The Law does not provide any specific regulations in regard to obtaining employment references or carrying out background investigations on employees. These are actions taken by the employer to ensure the employee is well suited for the position upon an offer of employment. The Law merely requires employers to provide to the authorities copies of new employment contracts.

The next post will shed light on issues related to remuneration and working hours of employees.