Employment focus – Morocco

1. What are the key employment laws and regulations in Morocco that employers and employees should be aware of?

Both employers and employees are expected to be aware of their rights and obligations under a subordination relationship. One of the most important laws to be familiar with in this area is (i) Law no. 65-99 relating to the Labour Code (the ‘Labour Code’), which governs the relationship between employer and employee by setting out the rights and obligations applicable to both parties.

The Labour Code sets out a panoply of legal provisions governing, among other things, the recruitment of foreign employees in Morocco, legal working hours, the prohibition of discrimination in employment and occupation, equal pay, paid vacations, annual leave and public holidays, social security contributions, work-related accidents, and illnesses, etc.

Other legislation, notably (ii) Law no. 18.12 on compensation for work-related accidents, and (iii) order no. 1356-19 of 19 April 2019, issued by the Minister of Labour and Professional Integration, setting out the model employment contract for foreigners, are no less important (iv) civil code and (v) law 08-09 related to data protection.

2. Can you explain the rights and obligations of employers and employees regarding working hours, rest days, and annual leave in Morocco?

The Labour Code sets out the rights and obligations of employers and employees in terms of working hours, rest days and annual leave. The following are the main points to bear in mind:

i. Regarding working hours:

The legal working week is set at 44 hours, ie, eight hours a day with one day off. Additional hours must be paid at an additional rate of:

  • 25% for overtime worked during the day (between 6am and 9pm) on weekdays for non-agricultural activities.
  • 50% for overtime worked at night (between 9pm and 6am), on Saturday afternoons and public holidays for non-agricultural activities.
  • 100% for overtime worked on the employee’s weekly rest day.

Please note that it is illegal for employees to work on paid public holidays. In such cases, the employer is required to pay them, in addition to the salary for that day, compensation equal to 100% of the salary for that day.

ii. Regarding annual leaves

Any employee who has worked for at least six continuous and consecutive months in the same company or with the same employer is entitled to paid annual leave equal to 1.5 days’ actual work per month of service.

Employees on annual leave are entitled to the same remuneration as they would have if they had remained at their job. Payment for annual leave must be received at the same time as the monthly salary. In addition to annual leave, employees may be entitled to paid leave for special events such as marriage, birth, or death. The number of days of paid leave varies according to the event.

However, employers may provide more favourable provisions for employees in their internal regulations, collective bargaining agreement or employment contract.

iii. Regarding rest days

Regarding rest days, employees must be granted a weekly rest period of at least 24 hours from midnight to midnight. This can be suspended when justified by the nature of the establishment’s activity or the products used, as well as in certain cases of urgent work or exceptional work overload.

It should be noted that compensatory rest may be granted in the event of overtime work.

3. What is the legal framework surrounding termination of employment contracts in Morocco?Are there specific grounds or procedures that need to be followed?

The termination process of an employment contract is governed by the Labour Code. The applicable legal framework varies according to whether the termination is initiated by the employer or the employee.

i. Termination initiated by the employer
  1. Disciplinary dismissal: the employer may dismiss an employee for serious or repeated misconduct. Before proceeding with dismissal, the employer must comply with the disciplinary procedure provided for in the Labour Code, which notably consists of summoning the employee to a preliminary interview to allow them to explain their actions.
  2. Dismissal for economic reasons: if the employer must make employees redundant due to economic difficulties, he must justify a real and serious economic reason. A specific procedure must be followed, including consultation with employee representatives and, in certain cases, the obligation to propose redeployment measures.
ii. Employee-initiated termination
  1. Resignation: the employee may terminate the employment contract by sending a letter of resignation to the employer. The notice period depends on the employee’s seniority.
  2. Contractual termination (or termination by agreement): the employer and employee may mutually agree to terminate the employment contract by signing an agreement known as a ‘transactional agreement’. This procedure requires the agreement of both parties and approval by the labour inspector or the court.
iii. General termination procedure

Whatever the initiative for termination, certain general rules apply:

  1. Written notification: the termination of the employment contract must be notified in writing, whether by the employer or the employee. A letter of dismissal or resignation must be sent to the other party.
  2. Notice period: except in the case of serious misconduct, a notice period must be observed. The length of the notice period depends on the employee’s seniority.
  3. Termination indemnities: depending on the circumstances of the termination, the employer may be required to pay indemnities. The amounts are determined according to the employee’s seniority and certain other specific conditions.

4. Can you provide guidance on the rights and protections for employees against discrimination, harassment, and workplace bullying in Morocco?

It should be noted that discrimination and harassment are prohibited under Moroccan law. In order to protect employees against all forms of discrimination, harassment or intimidation in the workplace, we believe it would be advisable for all employers to adopt an internal rule or policy, duly communicated to each employee, setting out the actions to be refrained from and the appropriate sanctions to be applied where applicable.

5. Are there any specific regulations or requirements for hiring foreign workers in Morocco? What are the considerations for obtaining work permits?

Recruiting foreign employees in Morocco is governed by the Labour Code. Any employer wishing to hire a foreign employee must obtain authorisation from the government labour authority and the employment ministry. This authorisation is granted in the form of a visa affixed to the employment contract.

For this purpose, the employer is required to take into consideration a specific contract template, determined by regulatory means. The employer is required to compile a file including a set of documents to be submitted to the competent authority. Today, the procedure is carried out electronically.

6. What are the legal obligations of employers regarding workplace health and safety in Morocco?

In general, the employer is required to take all necessary measures to protect the safety, health, and dignity of employees in the performance of the tasks they carry out under his direction, and to ensure that the rules of good conduct, morality and good character are upheld in his company.

Under the terms of the Labour Code, the employer is also required to ensure that work premises are kept in a good state of cleanliness and offer the hygienic and sanitary conditions necessary for the health of employees. This applies in particular to fire prevention systems, lighting, heating, soundproofing, ventilation, drinking water, cesspits, drainage of waste and washing water, dust and fumes, changing rooms, toilets and sleeping facilities, depending on the nature of the activity.

In the case of construction sites, the employer must guarantee a normal supply of drinking water, as well as sanitary housing and satisfactory hygiene conditions for employees.

In addition, when an industrial, commercial or craft company, and in farms and forestry operations and their dependencies employing more than 50 employees, a health and safety committee must be created.

7. Can you explain the legal requirements and procedures for collective bargaining and the formation of labour unions in Morocco?

Firstly, it should be noted that the establishment of professional labour unions is a constitutional right, as provided for in article 3 of the Moroccan Constitution. The purpose of professional unions is to defend, study and promote the economic, social, moral, and professional interests, both individual and collective, of the categories they represent, and to improve the level of education of their members. They also participate in the formulation of national economic and social policy. They are consulted on all disputes and issues relating to their field of competence.

i. Regarding collective bargaining

Defined by the Labour Code as the dialogue between the representatives of the most representative trade unions or the most representative employee unions on the one hand, and one or more employers or the representatives of professional employers’ organisations on the other (collectively called hereafter as the ‘parties’ and individually, the ‘party’).

Each party to the collective bargaining agreement appoints a representative in writing. The other party may not object. Negotiations take place directly at company, sector or national level, and each party may be assisted during negotiations by as many advisors as it wishes.

In this respect, the party wishing to negotiate is required, where necessary, to give notice to the other party by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt. It should be remembered that collective bargaining takes place at company and sector level once a year.

The parties may, by mutual agreement, set the starting date of collective bargaining within 15 days of receipt by the first party of the second party’s consent. The parties may, by joint agreement, set the ending date of negotiations, provided that this period does not in any case exceed 15 days from the opening date of the said negotiations. A copy of the aforementioned joint agreements is sent to the relevant government authority in charge of labour.

Thus, the relevant government authority in charge of labour shall provide the parties with statistics, economic, social, and technical information, and other information to facilitate collective bargaining.

The outcome of collective bargaining is recorded in minutes, or an agreement signed by the parties, and a copy of which is sent to the government authority in charge of labour, which forwards a copy of said minutes or agreement to the Collective Bargaining Council.

Finally, we bring to your attention that a council has been set up under the government authority in charge of labour, to be known as the ‘Collective Bargaining Council’, which is in charge of putting forward proposals to promote collective bargaining, issuing proposals and opinions concerning collective agreements, and studying the annual inventory of collective bargaining results.

ii. Regarding labour unions

According to the Labour Code provisions, labour unions may be freely formed by persons exercising the same profession or activity, or related activities involved in the manufacture of specific products or the provision of specific services, under the conditions provided for in the Labour Code, regardless of the number of employees in the company or the establishment.

In this regard, the Labour Code gives the opportunity to employers and employees to freely join the trade/labour union of their choice.

It should be noted that professional labour unions formed in accordance with the provisions of the Labour Code have the legal personality.

Thus, when a labour union is constituted, its representatives, or the person appointed for this purpose, must deposit a copy of the file at the offices of the local administrative authority, against a receipt, issued immediately or against a visa, pending the issue of the receipt, or send the said authority a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt:

  • The bylaws of the labour union to be set up, which must be in line with its purpose, and specify its internal organisation, the conditions for appointing members to its board of directors or management, and the conditions for membership and withdrawal.
  • A list of all the persons entrusted with its administration or management, in accordance with current legislation.

The union’s administrative and management members must be Moroccan nationals enjoying their civil and political rights and must not have been convicted of any criminal offence or imprisonment.

Furthermore, professional association (ie, syndicats professionnels) may form a union or similar organisation under any name. In this regard, the unions of professional association are entitled to all the rights granted to the professional association. The same rules governing the constitution of a professional association apply to unions of professional associations.

8. What are the options for resolving workplace disputes in Morocco, such as mediation, arbitration, or litigation?

In addition to traditional legal proceedings, the Moroccan legislator has introduced a range of alternatives for resolving collective labour disputes. These include conciliation and arbitration before the labour inspector.

9. Are there any specific regulations or considerations for employee benefits, such as social security, insurance, or retirement funds, in Morocco?

In general, all employers are required to provide employees with a certain amount of information upon hiring, including their registration number with the National Social Security Fund (ie, Caisse Nationale de Sécurité Sociale), and the insurance organisation insuring them against work-related accidents and illnesses.

The pension fund scheme, whose membership is optional, is open to private-sector employees as a supplementary scheme to that of the National Social Security Fund. It is open to any Moroccan employer with at least three employees.

10. What are the potential legal implications for employers who fail to comply with employment laws and regulations in Morocco?

Any employer who breaches the provisions of the Labour Code may be held criminally and/or civilly liable for this breach, notwithstanding pecuniary penalties, which may be doubled in the event of a repeated breach.