Myanmar has taken significant steps to promote landmark labour rights and policies in recent years. In 2007, a Supplementary Understanding was reached between the Myanmar Government and the International Labour Organization which established a complaint process that would not prejudice the complainant or subject the complainant to retaliatory action. This understanding was followed by another agreement in 2012 to establish a plan of action to eliminate forced labour completely by 2015.
On 30 August 2013, in the latest bid to create job opportunities, enhance workers' labour skills and reduce unemployment in Myanmar, President Thein Sein signed the new Employment and Skill Development Law ("ESDL"), thereby repealing the Employment and Training Act of 1950.
Under the ESDL, a 'Central Body' will be formed and be responsible for formulating policies on job creation, the reduction of unemployment and the promotion of skill development among workers. In order to implement such policies, the Central Body will employ two teams: 1) the employment development team; and 2) the skill development team.
With respect to the development of skills, the skills development team will prescribe requirements for employers to either conduct on-job training or afford employees other forms of training. This move aims to ensure that workers' skills are updated and kept relevant. Employers that employ workers in factories, workshops or similar establishments, will further be required to contribute to a skill development fund. The rate of contribution by the employer shall not be less that 0.5% of the salaries and wages of their employees.
Under the ESDL, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (the "Ministry") will be responsible for matching employment seekers with suitable employers on the operations front. This will not only apply to job opportunities in the private sector, but also to jobs in government, as well as those posted by employment agencies that provide a free service to job seekers. To ensure a complete employment contract, the ESDL has stipulated what must be covered by the employment agreement, such as the wage, probation period, working hours, overtime, medical treatment, termination and accommodation. Furthermore, all employment agreements will be subject to approval by the relevant employment and labour exchange office set up by the Ministry.
Of particular interest are the provisions that allow foreigners to set up training schools or skills assessment entities under the ESDL. Foreigners seeking to establish a training school will be required to submit an application to the skill development team for a registration certificate. Upon approval, the foreigner will then be allowed to appoint foreign experts (with current work permits) and to import teaching or assessment tools.