Lebanon’s Adoption Of The Standard Unified Contract Could Be One Step Closer To Abolishing The “Kafala” System

In light of the constant international criticism of the country’s migrant sponsorship framework, the Lebanese Ministry of Labour recently decided to adopt the Standard Unified Contract, which many believe is a step closer to ending the kafala system in Lebanon.

The aim of the new Standard Unified Contract (SUC) is to ensure a much safer environment for migrant domestic workers. The provisions of the contract stipulate that domestic workers will be allowed to keep their passports and personal documents, which contrasts with the current practice that permits the kafeel (sponsor) to confiscate passports and documents for “safekeeping”. In addition, domestic workers will be given the freedom to socialise with friends when on annual leave or during the holidays—without the fear of repercussions.

Prior to recent developments, the kafeel could deny migrant workers holidays, as well as denying them contact with their families. The contract further states that the domestic worker should also have their own private room in the home in which they are working. Importantly, the contract can be terminated without notice if the kafeel violates any provision within it. The domestic worker will also be permitted to terminate the contract without notice if they find themselves exposed to any degree of abuse. The domestic worker cannot work more than forty-eight hours a week. This added protection will hopefully ensure that domestic workers are not overworked. Yet, the new contract does not include any provision allowing domestic workers to form, join, elect, and be elected to unions.

English | November 9, 2020



We depend on your donation to fight for domestic workers in Lebanon.