Reports & Researches

Organizing the work of foreigners in Lebanon, including Palestinians living in Lebanese territory No clear laws, no decrees are made, interpretations are varied and subject to high discretion

Organizing the work of foreigners in Lebanon, including Palestinians living in Lebanese territory

No clear laws, no decrees are made, interpretations are varied and subject to high discretion

Explanatory bulletin

This bulletin describes the most important laws and decrees governing foreign labor in general and Palestinian labor in particular. It can be said that there are no clear and decisive laws and there are no practical decrees in this regard which are subject to multiple interpretations and do not carry in their content justice for the Palestinian worker, and it’s not comprehensive, it need to be increased in some to include liberal professions and others need substantial structural development.


First: Did the Labor Law of 1946 include Palestinian refugees?

The first labor law was issued in Lebanon on September 23, 1946, which regulated the legal status of the employer, workers and employees in Lebanon, and at that time the Palestinian refugees did not emigrate to Lebanon due to the Nakba.

One of the sections of this law concerns foreign workers who have been identified as newcomer workers and who must obtain prior approval to work in Lebanon through Lebanese embassies and consulates abroad and in contact with employers.

With regard to the Palestinian refugees and their working forces, they cannot be categorized as newcomer workers or foreigners in the technical sense and under the previous conditions stipulated in the law, considering that Palestinian workers arrived in Lebanon forcibly because of the 1948 Nakba(catastrophy) and not within the labor mechanisms which require obtaining prior approval for work and coming from abroad In particular.


Second: What is Legislative Decree 17561, which regulates the work of foreigners and the extent of its legal strength?

Law and Legislative Decree: The law is passed by the People's Assembly. The Legislative Decree is issued by the President of the Republic in special cases of urgency when the People's Assembly is outside its regular session. It is similar to the law, It can amend the laws, and the laws can also amend legislative decrees.

Decree No. 17561 - issued on 18/9/1964 was clear by the definition of foreign labor in Article 2 through the following text:

"A foreigner wishing to enter Lebanon to engage in a profession or work, with or without remuneration, must obtain the prior approval of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs before coming to it, unless he is an artist who obtains this approval from the Directorate of Public Security."

The Palestinian is originally residing in Lebanon for reasons beyond his control. How can the above decree be applied, and what if he violates the working conditions and withdraws his work permit? Where will he be deported?

And the mechanism that is generally recognized annually that the Lebanese Minister of Labor issues a resolution specifying the work confined to the Lebanese alone, in addition to works in the liberal professions such as engineering, medicine, law, pharmacy and professions organized by syndicate, Foreigners have the right to practice the remaining occupations, sometimes ranging from 40 to 45 occupations, including agriculture, construction and other occupations.

In 2005, the Lebanese Minister of Labor, Trad Hemada, and within the powers granted by Decree No. 17561 of 1964, issued Memorandum No. 1/67 in June 2005, which allowed Palestinian professionals to work in manual and office professions confined to Lebanese which was previously forbidden to Palestinians, under certain conditions, most notably being Palestinians born on Lebanese territory and being registered in the records of the Directorate of Political Affairs and Refugees of the Ministry of the Interior and that after receiving work permit as foreigners.

As for the professions organized in the unions (medicine, engineering, pharmacy and law), they are completely forbidden to Palestinian refugees because the law governing these professions requires reciprocity and the employee must be Lebanese.


Third: Did the law in 2010 regulate Palestinian labor?

In 2010, after a series of popular moves and with the support of the Democratic Gathering bloc headed by MP Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Parliament issued legislation that carried Law No. 129 dated 24/8/2010, which amended Article 59 of the Labor Law, which exempted Palestinians from the requirement of reciprocity and required a free working permit from the ministry of labor.

As well as Law No. 128 dated 24/8/2010, which amended Article 9 of the Social Security Law and exempted Palestinians from the requirement of reciprocity to benefit from social security contributions, and exempted them from the contributions of sickness and maternity funds and family allowances. The mechanisms applied became as follows:

oRepeal of the reciprocity

oTo separate the administration of the National Social Security Fund into a separate account for the contributions of Palestinian refugee workers, provided that the Treasury or the National Social Security Fund do not bear any financial obligation towards it

oBenefit from end of service indemnities and work emergencies.

oExemption from Sub-Subventions of sickness, maternity and family allowances.

Conditions for benefiting from social security were as follows:

While retaining the provisions governing the application of the Social Security Act, The Palestinian Refugee Fund working in the Lebanese territories is subject to the following conditions:

oTo be a resident of Lebanon.

oBe registered in the Directorate of Political Affairs and Refugees - Ministry of Interior and Municipalities.

oBe associated with one or more employers.

oHave a work permit in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations

The problem with this procedure is that the Palestinian refugee will be deducted from his income about 23.5% in favor of social security and benefit in only 8% which is the end of service benefits.

The 23.5% that must paid distributed as follows:

o9% illness and maternity (7% of the employer, 2% of the wage earner)

o6% Family compensation (from employer)

o8% end of service (from employer)

o0.5% for the management of the fund (from the employer).

This fact made the Palestinian worker not seek for work permit due to these deductions, which will not benefit from it. Moreover, the conditions for obtaining a work permit require a work contract between the employer and the worker in order to obtain work permit from the Ministry of Labor, and many employers refuse to employ or employ Palestinian labor on contracts that commit them in the end-of-service benefits and social security deductions, Therefore, Palestinian labor is exploited in this regard.Also the procedures for obtaining work permit are also complex to the point of impossibility.

Under the Lebanese-Palestinian vision issued by the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, it recommends an amendment regarding the use of social security revenues and the deduction of only 8% of the income of the Palestinian worker, which is the benefit under the heading "end of service benefits" only. And the vision called to facilitate the procedures for obtaining work leave without complications


Fourth: The Palestinians are again foreigners according to the plan of Minister Kamil Abu Suleiman to regulate the employment of foreigners

The inspectors of the Ministry of Labor in the Lebanese territories statred on Thursday, 11/7/2019, in the context of imposing the application of the Labor Law and ensuring that foreign workers have work permits, including the Palestinian, and that After the period declared by the Minister of Labor Kamil Abu Sulaiman during the launch of the plan to fight illegal foreign labor, and lasted a month in front of companies and institutions to settle their status and get work permits for illegal foreign workers.


The Ministry has imposed the following conditions on Palestinian employers:

1.Obtaining a work permit of 480,000 LL

2.Deposit of 100,000,000. L.L in the bank

3.commitment to hire Lebanese (one Palestinian for every 3 Lebanese)


1.There is no fixed system of laws regulating the employment of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

2.Palestinian refugees in Lebanon cannot be considered foreigners for objective and practical reasons.

3.To consider the Palestinian as a foreigner who must obtain a work permit complicate the situation and not regulating it.

4.The Palestinian refugee in Lebanon is prohibited from practicing the liberal professions, especially medicine, engineering and pharmacy. All the amendments that have occurred have not addressed this category of professions.

5.The legal amendments of 2010

6.Concerning the work and social security were not fair and did not have applicable decrees that take into account the rights of Palestinian workers, in which there is clear arbitrariness.

7.The plan of the Minister of Labor, Abu Suleiman, regarding the Palestinian refugees was not based on clear laws or implementing decrees. it considered Palestinian refugees as foreigners and imposed on them the need to obtain work permits


First: Not to consider the Palestinian refugee a foreigner who must obtain work permit.

Second: Amend the applicable decrees on work and social security so that the deductions from the pensions of Palestinian workers are returned to them later as the ratio is quite

Third: Allow Palestinian professionals, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, and others to work in this profession and amend the laws governing it.


Beirut on 20/7/2019

Palestinian Association for Human Right (witness)