Update on jurisdiction of the labor arbitration council in Cambodia

In this text, I am going to discuss about the jurisdiction of the labor arbitration council in Cambodia after the recent amendment of the Labor Law under the Royal Code dated 05 October 2021.

Under the Labor Law of Cambodia which has been in force since 1997, the arbitration council has jurisdiction only over collective labor dispute. According to Article 302 of the Labor Law, collective labor dispute refers to any dispute between one or more employers and a certain number of their workers regarding the working conditions, the exercise of the recognized rights of professional organizations, the recognition of professional organizations within the enterprise, and issues regarding relationship between employers and workers, and the dispute could jeopardize the effective operation of the enterprise or social peacefulness.

The arbitral award in collective labor dispute can be either binding or non-binding decision. Pursuant to Article 314 of the Labor Law, the decision of the arbitration council is enforceable only if the said decision is not objected by either party. Furthermore, according to Article 40 of Prakas No. 099 dated 21 April 2004 on Arbitration Council, either party can reject the arbitral award within 8 working days upon receipt of notice of the award. If the award is rejected within this period, it is not enforceable. In this case, if the dispute on rights which relates to implementation of employment contract, provision of labor law or collective agreement, the party to the dispute may further submit the case to the court for final decision. However, based on Article 42 of the same Prakas, the rule of Article 40 as motioned above is not applicable if there is mutual agreement of the parties to be bound by the arbitral award or if the parties are bound by the collective bargaining agreement to abide by the arbitral award.

After the summary of the effect of arbitral award for collective labor dispute, I am now going to discuss the recent amendment to the Labor Law. Based on this amendment, the labor arbitration council is now empowered to resolve individual labor dispute after the dispute cannot be resolved through the conciliation process conducted by the Labor Inspector. I am going to compare the old and new Article 300 of the Labor Law regarding the individual dispute resolution as below.

Article 300 (OLD) reads:

An individual dispute is a dispute that arises between employer and one or more workers or apprentices in their respective cases and relates to the interpretation or implementation of the provisions of the employment contract, apprenticeship contract, or employment regulations, collective agreements as well as applicable laws and regulations.

Before going to court in any case, any of the parties may initiate an idea to bring the dispute to the Labor Inspector at province or town of the said party for conciliation first.

Article 300 (NEW) reads:

An individual dispute is a dispute that arises between employer and one or more workers or apprentices in their respective cases and relates to the interpretation or implementation of the provisions of the employment contract, apprenticeship contract, or employment regulations, collective agreements as well as applicable laws and regulations.

For all individual labor dispute, either party to a dispute may file a complaint to the competent labor inspector for conciliation first. In case of non-settlement, the party may file a complaint to the Labor Court or the Arbitration Council in accordance with the Prakas of the Minister in charge of Labor.

Based on the above provision of Article 300 (NEW), either party can submit the dispute to the labor court or labor arbitration council after the said dispute cannot be resolved through conciliation by the labor inspector. In the absence of the labor court, the ordinary court will play the role of the labor court. (Read more Jurisdictions of Labor Court in Cambodia) The question is whether arbitral award for individual dispute and collective labor dispute have the same or different effects. Can any of the parties submit his or her case to the court if he or she is not happy with the arbitral award? Is award of the labor arbitration council in individual dispute a binding or non-binding decision?

In my opinion, based on the wording of second sentence of Article 300 (NEW), it is more likely that the party can choose either the labor court or the arbitration council upon the failure of conciliation by labor inspector and that the parties cannot bring their case to the labor court even if they do not agree with the arbitral award. Consequently, the arbitral award in the case of individual dispute should be a binding and enforceable decision. However, it is too early to make any assumption about the detail resolution procedures of the individual labor dispute to be decided by the Prakas. We need to wait for the Prakas to get the answers to the questions mentioned above.

This text is not a legal advice or legal opinion.

Categories Employment and Labor Laws

2 thoughts on “Update on jurisdiction of the labor arbitration council in Cambodia

  1. Thank you very much Lokru.

    I have a question regard to art. 300 new.

    Does the employment contract need to abide the principle of private autonomy of the parties? If abide, if there is an arbitration clause in the contract for settlement the dispute arise from the contract, can a party or any parties bring dispute to any Arbitration (s) without conciliation process as mentioned in Art. 300 new?

    1. Dear Brother/Sister, we need to wait for the Prakas from the Ministry. It is early to make any assumptions on the procedural rules of arbitration council in resolving individual labor dispute. My opinion is an individual point of view and serves as food for thought.

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