Every employer is obliged to provide its employees with a safe and non-discriminatory work environment, standardized working hours, and decent pay. They must provide all labor guarantees to the employee without any obstacles. They cannot illegally terminate or suspend the employment relationship.
Every employee has the right to have their labor rights protected at work.
Who should your turn to when your rights at work are violated?
The Labor Inspectorate is a legal entity under the public law of the Ministry of Health of Georgia, and from January 1, 2021, its goal is to oversee the effective enforcement of labor norms established by law.
When can you petition the Labor Inspectorate?
If your work environment is hazardous
Every employee has the right to work in safe environment, and employers are obliged to ensure the safety of the work environment.
Employers are required by law to implement safety policies and procedures, which should include organizational, technical and sanitary/hygienic measures. Employees have the right to refuse to perform a task if it does not comply with safety regulations, or if it endangers the life and health of the employee or third parties.
If you do not have a written employment contract, or your employer refuses to provide one
A written employment contract must be signed for any employment relationship that lasts for more than one month. The contract must include all the essential conditions of the employment relationship, including working hours, place of work, rules for remuneration, work breaks, and vacations. The employee must receive a copy of the written employment contract.
If you work more hours than permitted by law
Working hours include any time where you are at your employer’s disposal. By law, working hours should not exceed 40 hours per week.* In addition, the employee must have at least 12 hours of rest between work days and at least 24 hours total rest per week.
If the working day lasts longer than 6 hours, the employee is entitled to a break of at least one hour.
If shift work is unregulated when the working period is connected to a 24-hour continuous mode, the working time of the employees is determined by shift. Concretely, working in shifts refers to the method by which employees replace each other over a defined period of time. It is forbidden to work in two shifts in a row.
* Government regulations provide that workers in certain fields may work up to 48 hours per week. Employees who fall under this exception should be informed of this fact when they are hired.
If you are not paid for overtime work
Working beyond your normal working hours is considered overtime. Overtime hours must be paid at an increased hourly rate. Unfortunately, the precise amount for overtime pay is not regulated by Georgian legislation. However, the International Labor Organization recommends that the overtime wage rate should be at least 125% of the normal hourly wage.
If your right to vacation is restricted
Employees are entitled to 24 days of paid vacation per year, and 15 days of unpaid leave per year. There are no exceptions to this right.
If there is discrimination in the workplace
The Georgian Labor Code defines discrimination as “intentional or negligent discrimination or exclusion of a person, or the giving to him/her a preference, on the grounds of race, skin colour, language, ethnic or social affiliation, nationality, origin, property or titular status, employment status, place of residence, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, health status, religious, public, political or other affiliation (including affiliation to trade unions), marital status, political or other opinions, or on any other grounds, with the purpose or effect of denying or breaching equal opportunities or treatment in employment and occupation.”
All people should be protected from discrimination, both during the employment-seeking period and during employment. In cases of discrimination, the burden of proof rests with the employer.
How the Labor Inspectorate works
On what basis does the labor inspectorate conduct inspections?
The Labor Inspectorate may initiate an inspection in the following ways:
- When notified by any identifiable person who alleges violations of labor safety norms in the workplace.
- When a complaint is filed by any employee, trade union member or Public Defender alleging a violation of labor rights.
- On its own initiative.
How soon will my workplace be inspected if I file a complaint?
Inspections should be immediate in cases where there is a risk of harm to human life and health. In other cases, both the inspection and imposition of appropriate penalties on the employer should be carried out within 2 months.
Will the employer be notified in advance of the inspection?
The Labor Inspectorate carries out inspections within its jurisdiction without any prior notice, at any time of the day or night.
What measures can the labor inspectorate take?
A warning is issued by an inspector to correct any violations that are identified.
The minimum fine for each violation of general labor rights is 200 GEL. The maximum is 3,000 GEL. The amount of the fine depends on the degree of the violation.
The minimum fine for each violation of labor safety norms is 100 GEL, and the maximum is 14,000 GEL.
Suspension of operations
Severe violations of labor safety norms will result in the Inspectorate suspending the employer’s operations.
When petitioning for inspection, is the employee's identity protected from disclosure?
Yes. The Labor Inspectorate is obliged to follow the principle of confidentiality. This includes not disclosing the identity of the complainant (including if the complainant is an employee). They are also forbidden from disclosing the identities of people they interview in the workplace and the information received from these interviews.
Contact details for the Labor Inspectorate:
Ak. Tsereteli Ave. N144, Tbilisi
Tel: 15 05
Office of the Public Defender of Georgia
The Public Defender of Georgia ensures the protection of human rights throughout Georgia. The Public Defender also ensures the effective protection of any person from discrimination within the framework of the obligations contained in international treaties that Georgia has signed.
In what cases does the Public Defender of Georgia investigate allegations of discrimination in the workplace?
- On their own initiative
- Based on the petition/complaint of any natural or legal person
What types of cases does the Public Defender handle?
The Public Defender investigates cases of possible discrimination in the workplace.
To file a complaint, you can go to the Public Defender’s office in person (at D. Agmashenebeli Ave N80, Tbilisi) or call them at 1481.
How long does the Public Defender take to respond?
The Public Defender is authorized to obtain necessary documentation from any workplace during an investigation of discrimination. The investigation should take place within 10 days of the request. In addition, they must receive a written explanation on the issues to be investigated.
What measures can the Public Defender take?
After completing an investigation, the Public Defender issues recommendations and shares these with the appropriate institution(s).
What happens if an employer does not comply with the Public Defender's recommendation?
If an employer does not comply with the Public Defender’s recommendation, the Office of the Public Defender can apply to court for an enforcement order.
In what other cases can you apply to the Public Defender?
The Public Defender is a member of the Labor Inspectorate’s Advisory Board. If you feel the Labor Inspectorate has not properly investigated your complaint, you can request that the Public Defender raise the issue at Advisory Board.
Contact details for the Public Defender:
D. Agmashenebeli Ave., N80, Tbilisi
Common Courts of Georgia
In what cases can you go to court?
Termination from work
The Labor Code of Georgia contains a list of valid legal grounds for termination of an employment contract. Unfortunately, this list is not exhaustive, and the legislation allows dismissal for “other objective circumstances.”
If you are terminated for “other objective circumstances,” your employer must justify the existence of such “objective circumstances.” The failure to do so can be challenged in court.
You can also challenge cases of termination where you believe your employer has not followed proper termination procedures.
Illegal working conditions
The following issues can also be challenged in court:
- The violation of human rights and freedoms;
- the violation of labor laws related to working conditions; and
- the violation of the terms of an employment contract.
What procedures should you follow to bring your case to court?
For dismissal/termination cases
If you are dismissed from your job, the law requires that your employer notify you of this fact, in writing, 30 calendar days in advance. You must also be given one month’s compensation. If the employee is notified of the dismissal decision 3 calendar days in advance, then he/she should be given two months of compensation.
Within 30 calendar days after the decision to terminate the contract is made, the employee can ask the employer in writing to provide a written justification for the termination.
The employer is obliged to respond to the employee with an explanation within 7 days after receiving the request.
After receiving the explanation*, the employee has a window of 30 days to file a court case challenging the dismissal. If this 30-day period passes, the employee can no longer petition the court.
* If the employer does not provide a written justification within 7 days, the employee is entitled to apply to the court within 30 days from the end of the 7-day period. In such cases, the burden of proof for proving the validity of the dismissal in court rests entirely with the employer.
For cases challenging illegal labor conditions
In cases challenging labor conditions, the employee must first file a written complaint with the employer, specifying the grounds for the complaint, detailing the employee’s demands, and requesting direct negotiations.
The employer is obliged to inform the employee of their position on the disputed issue within 10 calendar days after receiving the complaint.
If the parties fail to reach an agreement within 14 days after the submission of the written complaint, the employee is entitled to file a civil lawsuit in the general courts of Georgia.
The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit with the common courts of Georgia is 1 year. The calculation of this period starts from the moment when the employee has heard or should have heard about the violation of his/her labor rights. After the statute of limitations expires, the employee can no longer file a case.
Remedies, how to file & free legal assistance
What remedies are available if the employee wins their case?
The following remedies are available in court:
- Reinstatement of the employee to their original position, or
- Providing the employee with equivalent work, or
- Compensation in the amount determined by the court.
- Compensation for lost wages
For compensation for lost wages, the period is calculated from the date of termination until the date of execution of the court decision.
How do you file a petition with the common courts?
Court petition forms are posted on the website of the Supreme Court of Georgia. In order to file a lawsuit, you must complete and file these forms.
In the court of the first hearing, any person has the right representative him/herself or to assist another person.
In the courts of second and third hearings, representation by a member of the Georgian Bar Association is required.
Free legal assistance
Numerous non-governmental organizations, trade unions and union confederations offer employees legal assistance in labor disputes free of charge across the country.
Any worker can apply to these organizations for free legal support without any obstacles. Organizations assist employees in identifying and positioning a legal problem and obtaining and requesting additional documentation. In addition, these organizations can petition regulatory bodies, such as the Labor Inspectorate or the Public Defender, and act as a legal representative for workers.
Who can you contact?
Georgian Young Lawyers Association – Tel: (995 32) 293 61 01/295 23 53. E-mail: email@example.com
“Social Justice Center” – Tel: (995 32) 2 233 706/599 65 66 11. E-mail: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Solidarity Network – Tel: 557 99 65 34 E-mail: email@example.com
Open Society Foundation – Tel: +995 32 2 25 04 63 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Social Agents Trade Union”
“Metro Professional Union”