Labor Law Violators to Face Stiffer Daily Fines

Companies that violate the Labor Law will now face a five-fold increase in fines following a new order from the justice and labor ministries intended to encourage more compliance.

According to a joint statement from the ministries, released on September 14 and obtained Wednesday, the daily fines that can be levied against enterprises for violations ranging from discrimination to health hazards have been increased from 8,000 riel, or about $2, to 40,000 riel, about $10.

“The previous 8,000 riel fine was too little and the punishment of the factories and enterprises was not high, so the [Labor] Ministry asked the Justice Ministry to discuss revising the [fine] to $10, which is multiplied by one month to three months, to make the fine heavier and put more pressure on the enterprises and factories that do not respect the rules to improve,” said Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Suor.

“If the fine is too low, they will let themselves get fined,” he said. “We want to avoid this, so we increased the fine.”

Mr. Suor said his ministry has carried out about 7,000 workplace inspections this year and fined 30 companies for a total of 100 violations. He said 17 companies were fined in all of 2014.

Labor unions say workplace violations remain rife inside the country’s 500-or-so exporting garment factories, which are the country’s single largest formal employers. Rights groups and unions blame the problem partially on the dearth of serious inspections and fines.

Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch, citing government records, said the government fined only 10 factories from 2009 through 2013 and called the state’s oversight of the industry “dismal.”

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