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Hala Qutteineh - Associate - Corporate Structuring
The Jordanian Parliament, following increasing calls for a legislative regime change catering to the flexible needs and requirements of a diverse workforce, has recently enacted a new regulation pertaining specifically to flexible working arrangements in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Such regime, which is contained in the Regulation of Flexible Employment (Regulation No. 22 of 2017) (the “Regulation”), was published in the Official Gazette on 16 March 2017 and came into effect immediately as of such date.
In short, the Regulation offers certain categories of employees (see below) the right and opportunity to choose, with their employers consent, a flexible working arrangement tailored to their personal and familial circumstances, needs and/or requirements – ultimately fostering a very tangible and concrete work-life balance and, in turn, employee satisfaction and engagement.
Who is covered by the Regulation?
The Regulation covers the following specific categories of employees only (collectively, the “Employees”):
What is the scope of the Regulation?
The Regulation provides the Employees with different forms of flexible working arrangements, patterns or schedules of work, including the following:
The above options are, of course, subject at all times to the prior approval of the employer. It is not, therefore, an unconditional automatic right for the Employees. There will need to be an element of mutual consent to such arrangements taking into consideration the business needs and requirements of the employer at the relevant time. An employer cannot, however, compel an Employee to adhere to a specific arrangement, as otherwise, such arrangement would be deemed as void.
Where an Employee and his/her employer agree to a flexible working arrangement subject to the Regulation, the following key points should be considered:
In order to ensure unhindered implementation of the Regulation, the Regulation obliges the employer to periodically report to the Tripartite Committee (a committee specifically formed by Article 52 of the Labour Law) of its application, where relevant, of the Regulation. Such report should include (i) the forms of flexible arrangements adopted, (ii) the number of Employees who have adopted a flexible working arrangement and the start date of their employment, (iii) the strategy that was implemented by the employer to adopt a flexible working arrangement and (v) the number of all employees working with the employer. The Tripartite Committee shall look into and examine the reports provided by the employer and regularly issue its recommendations to the Minister of Labour in this regard, as required under Article 11 of the Regulation.
The Regulation has received notable positive feedback from various industry circles and is a welcome step in the direction of catering to, and ultimately accommodating, a workforce shouldering differing familial circumstances for female workers, in particular, and in general, the possibility of reducing traffic and avoiding stress of commuting during rush hours. However, certain residual creases still need to be ironed out with regards to the Regulation, including the necessity of amending the Labour Law to align it to the terms of the Regulation and separately, the “employer consent” element attached to the flexible working options generally. Whilst it is acknowledged that any flexible working arrangement requests will invariably need to be considered in the light of an employers business needs and requirements, there should be a careful balance and mechanism in place to ensure that such requests are not flatly rejected or denied by employers arbitrarily; particularly as such an approach would go against the very spirit and aim of the Regulation.