Syria/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.6 Labour laws

The main system of State workers (Law No.50 for the year 2004):

This law is the organizer of the relationship between public and governmental commissions and their workers. In its first article, the law defined a worker as each person who is permanently posted in one of the noticeable jobs in the numerical property of the public side. Thus, it provided total equality amongst all employees despite the nature of their jobs and their employment ranks.

Artists were exempted, according to the Law, from the section especially for transferring employees as what it was stated in Article (33 – G). They were also exempted in Article (37 – B) from the principles of blame to be replaced with the principles mentioned in the laws and regulations, especially for them. Also, Article (42 – A) transferred the task of specifying the hours and the amount of work done by artists to the laws and regulations, especially for them.

While in the section of tasks and restrictions, Article (63 – A) clearly stated that “workers should work by performing their assignments in reinforcing the socialist system by which it guarantees the adhesion of principles of the united Arab socialist society. They should also abide by performing the State plan and objectives in unity, liberty and socialism.” This takes us back to the policies of the Baath Arab Socialist Party and its effective role in dominating the socialist, nationalist and Arabism features over the society in general.

There is no doubt that considering an artist as an employee in the public sector forms a possible obstacle for artistic creativity and development. Article (64 – 2) restricts workers from “practicing an open career along with their employment except the ones that laws and regulations state on allowing the practice of and within the specified conditions.” Since there isn’t a united syndicate or law that brings together artists in general, regardless of the differences in their work, this article makes cultural work harder for some activists to achieve.

Speaking of compensations, Article (96 – 2) of the law along with retaining the principles mentioned in the laws and regulations, especially for disposing compensations, states that the disposing of compensations are for “those of medical professions and members of scientific research commission”, not mentioning cultural or artistic professions. Seven categories were defined in the section of compensations which can be legally gained, along with the salaries, by workers. The second category was for “compensating nature of work and art specialization” which is detailed later in Article (98 – A – 5) as for “specialized art” work without clarifying the meaning of the specialization. Knowingly, paragraph (B) specified that “work nature and specialization compensation should not exceed, regardless of the number of its kinds granted to one worker, forty percent of the salary at the time of performing work,” while paragraph (G) specified the ratios by five percent as a reward of distinguished intellectual or physical effort and by eight percent for specialized art work.

In paragraph (D) of the article, the article keeps in charge of the government cabinetright of issuing a decision based on the suggestion of: the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, the General Union of Workers Syndicates and the Specialized Syndicate Organization, on specifying the kinds of  compensation (according to the elements it’s granted to), the groups benefiting from all its kinds and the amount of benefit each group gets, the conditions and fundamentals of its issues and restrictions, and lastly, the conditions of mixing between its kinds. Thus, neither the Ministry of Culture nor any of the artistic syndicates has a role regarding this, which brings up a question on the role of the Ministry of Culture in protecting those who are working in the cultural sector and to what extent the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor and Workers Union can evaluate the nature of art work to suggest the appropriate compensations.

It gets more clarified within the context of Article (105 – A) stating that it’s possible, when needed, and by the decision of a specialized minister, “assigning some workers limited additional tasks outside the official work hours that are agreed on in the departments they work for and granting them, as a reward, a cut compensation specified in that decision, as long as the monthly total payment they get in reward of those tasks, no matter how much/many, doesn’t exceed five percent of the  maximum amount of wage in their categories.” Also, Article (105 – B) clarifies that “Mixing between assigning additional work and additional work hours is not allowed”, confirming that theatrical and artistic work, particularly, may require long hours of work outside the official work hours. Later, Article (109) exempts the article from compensation amounts that are assigned in Articles (101), (108) about additional hours, payments, additional work compensations, and commissions’ compensation….(2) compensation of composing or invention (4) compensation of press and intellectual production (5) compensation of art production and artistic works that are performed by artists. The question is to what extent these articles are being implemented in a way that serves the art and cultural sector and encourages creativity and development.

Article (131) states that one of the reasons for the worker service termination is the worker having reached the age of sixty, so is it possible to implement this article on those who are working in the cultural sector? Would it not have been better if the project had chosen different standards that are related to the capability of cultural production and creative works?

Like the other issued law statements and legislations, the practical application and the occurring events have approved an urgent need to amend Law No.50 for the year 2004 which is named, the Main Law for State’s Workers, and which is the modified version of Law No.1 for the year 1985 in matters of cases that need to be organized according to different mechanisms and restrictions. As a practical example of the determined intention for modifying the law, a commission was established on 26/2/2013 whose task was restudying and modifying the Main Law for State’s Workers No.50 for the year 2004. The commission was joined by representatives from the Ministry of Labor, the General Union of Workers’ Syndicates, the Central Bureau of Financial Surveillance, and other related parties. Based on the commission request, most ministries submitted their suggestions and feedback for the law modification[1]. The commission formed by the Ministry of Labour by decision number 337 for 2013 reached findings in September of the same year to establish general principles and parameters through which the draft amendment will be made. We were not able to update the results of the amendment on the level of labour at the date of this research.

Private Labor Law (law No.17 for the year 2010)

Along public labor law which includes artists working for the public sides in the State, there is a group of artists whose daily work is supervised by statements and principles of the private labor law. A worker is defined by this law as “each normal person who works for someone who owns a job, no matter the job kind, and under their authority and supervision.” The second article encouraged the fundamentals of equality in treatment and opportunities, with equivalence with no discrimination. Despite the necessity and the positive aspect of this article, it encouraged the fundamentals of not having differentiation in cultural and art work based on its special nature.

What’s meant by the word “work” according to Article (27 – G) is that it’s “each work that is industrial, trade, agricultural, craft, banking, service, art, or other.” This clearly defies Article (37) that’s especially for theoretical, artificial, or practical training and which has totally neglected art work in terms of training and practice. It was followed by Article (38) which imposed conditions on the trainee to have reached eighteen years of age, thus, children were prohibited from professional art training in private art institutions.

One of the things that denies independence of art work and restrains creativity in it, especially in terms of training staff, is what was mentioned in both Articles (42), (43) which granted privilege to the specialized Minister to interfere in the information stated on the training certificates given to trainees, and that he specifies, by a decision he makes, the permission requirements for establishing training centers in the structures of private sector  and the topics covered in the artificial training.

Once again, the cultural sector has been neglected, although it’s considered a service sector in the State Five-Year Plan. Article (69), especially for wages, states on the establishment of the National Committee of the General Minimum Wage by a decision made by the prime minister and under his command, which doesn’t include the Minister of Culture nor art syndicates principals. Thus, the question about the role of the ministry in protecting artists and the cultural sector is brought back. This role is reinforced later in Article (71) which states on the establishment of a committee, by a decision made by the minister, in each specialized directorate to suggest the minimum wage for all professions that are subject to the principles of this law, excluding the membership of the minister.

Public sector workers in the domain of cultural field are subject to Labor Law no. 91 of 1959. Artists and workers in the cultural sector being not exempted from subordinating to the articles of this law is considered, as they believe, amongst prominent factors that hinder the cultural movement[2].

The 10th five-year Plan underlines the importance of developing the legislations with regard to the cultural sector based on nature of work. Artistic and cultural activities should be held at night and no incentives are available on the nature of these activities.

In line with directives of the 10th Five-Year Plan, the Cabinet has issued law No. 20/M in its meetings held on the 24th of April, 2005 in which percentages of allowance on the nature of jobs are specified as well as allowances on the specialized artistic work as follows:

Article 1: Percentages of allowance on nature of work and activities as proclaimed in article 98 of the Basic Law of the Civil Workers No.50 for the year 2005, are specified in line with the salary or wage as of the date of work performance as follows:

  • Journalists registered in compliance with regulations at the Journalists Union payroll in the Syrian Arab Republic, get according to the provisions of decree No. 58, for the year 1974 and its amendments included in the provisions of decree No. 48 for the year 1980, a percentage of 6.5% of the total wage.

  • Artists working at the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Information, and other official bodies, included in the provisions of the decree No.32 for the year 1973 have a maximum 5% of total wage.

Legislation for Free Lance Artists

No special legislations are applicable in Syria with regard to freelance artists or calculating the average rates of income or taxes except for the decision No.213 on 11/1/2011 that specified the wages of artists (participating in the art works produced by the General Institution of Television and Radio Production itself or by another) and with all of their specializations (writers, directors, actors and actresses, musicians, decoration engineers, make-up, fashion designers).[3]


[1] Atthawra newspaper- 20/5/2013

[2] It is worth considering here the categories of public servants who are exempted from Law of Labor as stipulated in article 174 of the 17th Chapter. Exempted from the provisions of this law are:1. Judges subject to the law of the judicial authority, judges of the Higher Constitutional Court, judges of the State Council, and lawyers of the Administration of the State Courts. 2.Members of the educational board, technical, and lab staff subject to the law of Universities.3. Workers at religious jurisdiction (fatwa), religious teaching, imams, preachers, Quran readers, servants at mosques, and other individual working in the religious domain.4. Military men, armed forces, and policemen. 5.Members of the General Intelligence. 6.The custom authorities. 7. The technical staff, members of the Commission of Scientific Research at the Center of Scientific Research, members of the technical staff, members of the lab,  and staff members of the Commission of the Scientific Research at the Atomic Energy Commission. 8. Scientific workers at the Arab Encyclopaedia Institution. 9. Flights crews at the Syrian Airlines and the sailing cruise personnel at the Syrian Maritime Company.10. Domestic personnel appointed at Syrian diplomatic missions abroad.

[3]Website of the “Syrian Law” in 2/2/2011


Chapter published: 06-05-2016