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Labour/Employment Law

Somaliland Labour/Employment Law

For laws relating to public employees, please see the bottom half of this page.

[Page last updated 01 May 2021]


01/05/2022: The new Somaliland Labour (Amendments & Additions) Law, No. 31/2020 which is only in Somali is now available, as gazetted on 02/05/2021, Xeerka Shaqaalaha Rayidka, Xeer Lr. 31/2020. The law repeals its previous versions kept below for historical purposes only.

An SLLaw version of the Law with the arrangements of the articles is also available SLLaw Xeerka Shaqaalaha, Xeer Lr. 31/2020. No English version is currently available.


Here is the Som-Eng Arrangements of the  new Labour (Amendments & Additions) Law 2020.








The main Law covering private sector employment is the recently amended Private Sector Employees’ Law which covers all non-public employees, other than casual “daily” workers.  The law titled, in Somali, Wax ka Bedelka iyo Kaabista Xeerka Shaqaalha Rayidka (Xeer Lam 31/2004 - Private Sector Employees Law – Law No. 31/2004 (As amended 2010) .  This version of the Law also  includes the Presidential Decree  No. 0431/032010 dated 02 March 2010 which brought the (amended) Law into force. (A smaller file copy of the Law, as finally passed in 2010, is attached here : Xeerka Shaqaalaha Rayidka 31/2004 & 2010)


The law reduces the previous Law passed by the House in 2004 from 79 articles to 57, but covers broadly the same grounds.  The Law follows the model of the previous Somalian employment laws, such as the Labour Code No. 65 of 18 October 1972. It does, however, introduce new provisions, such as the positive quota for recruitment of employees from the excluded communities. The main chapters of the Somaliland law are:

    Chapter 1: General provisions

    Chapter 2: Hours of work

    Chapter 3: Holidays and rest periods

    Chapter 4: Employees’ pay and emoluments 

    Chapter 5: Employment Contracts

    Chapter 6: Employees’ recruitment procedures

    Chapter 7: The duties of employees and employers

    Chapter 8: Dismissal and resignation of employees

    Chapter 9: The employment of young persons

    Chapter 10: Employees’ grievances

    Chapter 11:  Health and safety in the work place 

    Chapter 12: The structure of employees’ associations

    Appendix: Pay as you earn Income Tax deductions & Rates (linked to Article 40 of the Law)

Until an accurate English language translation is available, the following subject matter table pointing to the relevant articles might be of some help:


Coming into force

Art. 57

Disciplinary acts, suspension

Art. 51 - 51

Dismissal & resignation

Art. 36 - 37

Duties of employees & employers, appraisals

Art. 33 - 35

Employees’ grievances and cases; Labour Directorate, Regional Courts.  

Art. 39

Employment contracts, types of contracts, apprenticeships, registration of employment contracts

Art. 24 - 30

Fundamental employment rights - equality and non-discrimination on grounds of gender, colour, religion, clan origin, political opinion, HIV/AIDS.

Art. 7

Health & safety

Art. 41 - 45

Holidays, rest periods, sickness leave, maternity leave, family responsibility leave

Art. 11-19

Hours of work

Art. 8 - 10

Labour Directorate & Inspections

Art. 2 – 6,  48

Labour organisations

Art. 52 - 55

Minors – non-employment

Art. 38

Recruitment; foreign employees

Art. 31 - 32

Regulations under this Law

Art. 56

Salary and emoluments; Eid payment, funeral expenses.

Art. 20 - 23

Scope of the Law

Art. 1

Tax – rates

Art. 40, 46; Schedule

Transfer of undertakings

Art. 47, 49

Public Holidays

Article 12 of the Law sets out the paid public holidays totalling 11, but another day has been added under Ministerial Regulations. 

See : list of holidays here.


The Civil Code

Article 605 of the Civil Code (1973) defines contracts for labour as one involving agreement for labour or work in consideration for remuneration.  The Code also covers the general principles that underlie contractual obligations, but Article 605 of the Code states that a special law shall govern employment contracts. That law in respect of private employees is the above law. 

The Civil Code also covers liability for “tort” acts committed by employees.  Art. 171  of the code states that:

1.  An employer is liable for the damage caused by an employee who commits  unlawful act in the course of, or in relation to,  his employment.

2.  The relationship between employer and employee exists even when the employer has not been free to choose his employee, provided he has actual powers of supervision and control over his servant.”

This  employer’s liability for unlawful tort acts was challenged in various cases relating to injury or death brought about by vehicle accidents where the employers of the drivers challenged this Article as being contrary to Islamic principles.  The Somaliland Supreme Court rejected such arguments and on 1 February 2005, the Chairman of the Supreme Court issued a Direction in which he re-confirmed the applicability of Article Article 171 of the Civil Code in respect of the liability of employers for the road traffic accidents caused by their employees. The Direction also confirmed that the monetary value of a camel, for the purposes of compensation, was equivalent to 200,000  Shillings .




The ILO’s Governing Body has identified eight conventions as “fundamental”:

These principles are also covered in the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998) (see section 3). In 1995, the ILO launched a campaign to achieve universal ratification of these eight conventions. There are currently over 1,200 ratifications of these conventions, representing 86% of the possible number of ratifications.


The ILO’s Governing Body has also designated another four conventions as “priority” instruments, thereby encouraging member states to ratify them because of their importance to the functioning of the international

labour standards system.  These are:

  • Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No. 81)
  • Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention, 1969 (No. 129)
  • Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144)
  • Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (No. 122)



Source: ILOLEX – (5. 4. 2009)





C16 Medical Examination of Young Persons (Sea) Convention, 1921



C17 Workmen's Compensation (Accidents) Convention, 1925



C19 Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Convention, 1925



C22 Seamen's Articles of Agreement Convention, 1926



C23 Repatriation of Seamen Convention, 1926



C29 Forced Labour Convention, 1930



C45 Underground Work (Women) Convention, 1935



C50 Recruiting of Indigenous Workers Convention, 1936


denounced on 15:09:1981

C64 Contracts of Employment (Indigenous Workers) Convention, 1939


denounced on 11:09:1978

C65 Penal Sanctions (Indigenous Workers) Convention, 1939



C94 Labour Clauses (Public Contracts) Convention, 1949



C95 Protection of Wages Convention, 1949



C105 Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957



C111 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958



Ratified: 12

Conditional ratification: 0

Declared applicable: 0

Denounced: 2




1. Civil Servants - 

The main law governing the conditions of employment of civil servant is the 1996 Somaliland Civil Service Law No. 7/96. ( copy of the Law in both English and Somali).  Here is the  English copy on its own - 1996 Somaliland Civil Service Law (English only) .

This Law which was issued under the 1993 Somaliland National Charter which did NOT allow for the use of any post 1969 Somali Republic Dicatorship era legislation and hence, as stated in its preamble,  it was based on the 1962 Civil Service Law. (That 1962 law was subsequently amended many time and the last pre 1991 Somali Republic Civil Service Law was Law No. 5 of 2/2/1980 which purported to cover all public employees (including public industrial workers)  and which was no longer applicable to Somaliland, anyway.

The 1996 Somaliland Civil Service Law covers permanent civil servants and does not apply to local government employees and to members of the armed forces or the police and  corrections corps (see Article 2).


2. Local Government Employees:  Article 59(4) of the Regions and Districts Law (Law No. 22/2002, as amended) states that local government (and water Agencies) employees shall have a separate law which shall pbe repared by the Ministry of Interior and approved by the “Councils”.  There is a bill currently being considered by a House Committee.  The last pre 1991 Regulations which specifically addressed separately local government employees were the Local Government Regulations  1973 - Decree No. 4 of 15 July 1973, which were slightly amended by  Decree No. 116 of 5 September 1974. The Somaliland I1997 Interim Constitution and the final 2000 Constitution both included a provision which allowed the continued  use of pre 1993 Somali Republic laws which are not in conflict with the Somaliland Constitution, fundamental human rights and freedoms and Sharia until new laws are promulgated.


Separate laws govern the employment conditions of the following:

  • The Armed Forces.
  • The Police,  the Corrections Corps and the Immigration Services
  • The Judiciary and the Prosecution Service




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