Regulations Governing the Recruitment of Foreigners in Libya.
Article (9) of Law No. (12) of 2010 on Labour Relations “the Labour Law” expressly states that: “Non-nationals may not practice any work before obtaining a permit therefore from the competent authority – i.e. the Ministry of Labour – and employers may not recruit non-nationals from abroad, contract with them, or enable them to work without obtaining prior approval from the competent authority, which shall issue a decision to specify the conditions for employing foreigners and the jobs in which foreigners may be accepted.”
Before addressing the recent decision of the Minister of Labour No (392) on the Issuance of Restrictions on the Importation and Employment of Non-nationals of 22/12/2021 “the Resolution”, it should be noted that the definition of foreigners can be deducted from Law No (24) of 2010 on the Provision of Libyan Nationality. Article (1) of this law defines the Libyan nationality as “the nationality of the citizens of the State of Libya according to the conditions outlined in Article Two of this law.” The same law provides that foreigners married to Libyans and their sons and daughters will enjoy the same benefits as the Libyan citizens do in the provisions and systems of work, social security, and tax legislation (Articles 10 and 11). This is also confirmed by the Resolution in Article (17).
Legally, any company or branch of a foreign company operating in Libya and registered under the Libyan Commercial Registry cannot employ more than 25% of foreign workers (Article 51 of the Labour Law). However, this percentage increases to become 70%, according to Article (7.7) of Law No. 9 on Promoting Investment, which permits companies and branches registered under the Investment Law to employ foreigners when there are no national alternatives.
In practice, the Ministry of Labour used to issue an annual bulletin that determines the professions that are prohibited to non-Libyans. However, this yearly practice stopped in 2014 due to the circumstances in Libya in the last decade. Resolution (392), the subject matter of this comment, comes after a long period to regulate the rules and conditions of the employment of foreigners. It also provides a list of the jobs allowed to be the subject of employment (Article 2).
This Resolution includes 25 articles. It stipulates new rules on the percentages and fields of work allowed for foreigners, whether recruited by national or foreign companies, agents of accredited foreign companies, medical and health companies, hotel services companies, and investment companies.
It should be noted that there is a circular issued by the Department of Employment (Ref No. D-188), dated 26/10/2021, which prohibits contracting with foreign workers holders of visas other than a work visa. This is a restriction to the general rule, which allows the recruitment of holders of such visas in Libya. Being merely a circular, it should be easy to revoke or amend it by the legislator.
We conclude this comment with another circular recently issued by the Social Security Fund in Libya, which determines a salary ceiling of LYD 16,000, from which the social insurance deductions are allowed, and a minimum salary of LYD 900, according to the Council of Ministries Decision No. (448) of 2021 on Minimum Wages.