AMMAN — Minister of Industry, Trade, Supply and Minister of Labour, Yousef Shamali, on Sunday revealed that there are over 400,000 undocumented workers in Jordan’s labour market.

This figure was announced during a parliamentary labour committee meeting, which resulted in the adoption of a draft amendment to the 2020 Labour Code.

Speaking with The Jordan Times on Monday, Head of the parliamentary labour commission MP Tamam Riyati said that “The draft law comprises of 17 articles which deal with crucial topics concerning the labour market”.

The draft law tackles issues related to providing a safe working environment for women, imposing strict workplace harassment laws, and regulating foreign labour, Riyati added.

“This draft law comes as part of a legal overhaul, but in order to have discernible progress, controversial issues need to be considered in greater depth,” economist Mazen Marji told The Jordan Times during an interview on Monday.

Foreign labourers are major contributors to the country’s GDP and play a positive role in broadening Jordan’s workplace culture, in addition to their role in the consumer market, Marji said.

The economist added that solving the unemployment issue requires the effective implementation of mechanisms and economic plans, and it is only associated with foreign labour regulations by a relatively small degree.

“Over 4 million people who live in Jordan are non-Jordanians, and regulating foreign labour in Jordan will for sure require more than just a draft law; government seriousness and realism must be borne in mind,” Marji stressed.

Noting that Jordan is considered a “buffer zone” against regional turmoil, Marji said that foreign workers include people who have fled their countries seeking refuge in the Kingdom, “which means that the foreign labour issue is not a simple topic that can be resolved by a draft law”.

On the same note, economist Mahmoud Abdullah told The Jordan Times that “the grace periods granted for foreign workers is a positive measure, but given the large number of illegal workers, more effort should be made”.

An irregular and unsteady labour market “definitely limits” employment opportunities for Jordanians, he said, adding that the draft law was adopted in order to provide a legal framework for the regulation of foreign labour.

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