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Life and health of employees must be more important than economic profit

Interview with  Chairman of the State Labour Inspectorate Service under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population Fuad Alizade

Q: How would you characterize the current national legislation on labour protection in Azerbaijan?

A: Labour protection norms and regulations are determined by the Labour Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan, other legislative acts, normative legal acts adopted by the appropriate executive bodies within their jurisdiction, as well as international treaties to which the Republic of Azerbaijan is party.

A range of interstate documents determining the international labour protection standards in either form have been ratified by the Republic of Azerbaijan. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights may be emphasized among these documents. Besides the

Republic of Azerbaijan has ratified and became party to the range of conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Organization on Labour protection.

Appropriate authorities, duties and instructions for realization of the “right of everyone to work in safe and healthy conditions” which is stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and is one of the main obligations of Azerbaijani Government and implementation of activities in this direction are provided in the “Labour Protection” Section of the Labour Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Q: What about the situation with mandatory insurance of employees?

A: Social Insurance against Industrial Accidents and Occupational Illness provided in the Article 225 of the Labour Code

of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the form of mandatory social insurance.

Thus, Employers must provide employees working at high-risk jobs, on machinery, mechanisms, equipment, electrical equipment, in jobs with the risk of explosion and fire, or other similar jobs, with mandatory personal insurance against industrial accidents. That is why employees when employed and concluding employment agreement for work at high-risk jobs shall require mandatory social insurance which correspond with their social position and in not against the law.

In addition a list of employees requiring personal insurance and the amount of the insurance coverage shall be stated in the collective agreements. After that in accordance with the will of parties any other type of insurance coverage may be bought with agreements signed with insurance agencies.

In addition to the abovementioned cases the aforesaid mandatory insurance shall be issued on the basis of the list of production or non-production sites considered extremely dangerous to human life.

The State Labour Inspectorate Service observes the fulfillment of the provisions of the law on Social Insurance against Industrial Accidents and Occupational Illness.

Q: What novelties did the application of electronic information system in labor agreement notification?

A: In his speech at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to results of the first half of the country`s socio-economic development President Ilham Aliyev said that because new enterprises, factories and plants are put into operation in Azerbaijan almost every week, the employment rate is growing. “There should also be more rigorous control over the labor market. Relevant instructions have been given in this regard. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan has yet to apply a precise system to this sphere. There are cases of unofficial employment, of foreign migrants coming to our country and working illegally, and these trends are increasing.” The President gave his recommendations related to improvement of the situation on this front.

In this regard, relevant amendments and supplements were made to the Labour Code in 2013.  Under these amendments and supplements, the conclusion, amendment or termination of an employment contract will only come into force after its registration in the electronic information system of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan and electronic confirmation of registration being sent to the employer.

The notice in question is an electronic document and confirmation of its registration in the system is sent to the employer electronically through the system within one business day.

Q: According to media reports, employees can receive employment certificates and information about their salaries in an electronic way…

A: We have created an electronic database of labor agreement notification. This allows employees to receive employment certificates and information about their salaries in an electronic way without wasting time and going to the office. In 2014, 3,113 officials and legal persons were fined a total of 4,292,600 for administrative faults, and this is 68 times more than in 2013. Some 44.6% of the fines were paid to the state budget, and it is 24 times more than in 2013.

Q: Could you please provide some statistics on occupational accidents?

A: In 2014, the State Labour Inspectorate Service under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population monitored 225 occupational accidents. A total of 90 people were killed in these accidents, while 183 people received various injuries. The majority of accidents happened in the construction sector (28.9%), processing industry (15.1%), energy sector (10.7%), mining industry (10.2%) and transportation sector (8.9%).

This shows that there are problems with labour security regulations, observance of legal requirements and technical security rules in the construction sector.

Q: Is your Service carrying out enlightenment campaign for employers?

A: Yes, of course. Raising employers` awareness of legislative basis and security measures, including protection of labour is one of the key priorities of our work. For example last year we held numerous events to promote the application of electronic information system for labour agreement notification. We held Open Door forums in all regions of the country. The Service also conducts enlightenment to raise employers` awareness of how to ensure security and protection of employees and prevent occupational accidents.

In addition the Service announced a “Safe Work Week” last year during which labour inspectors together with the representatives of the governmental and non-governmental agencies inspected safety measures at work places.