I don’t often talk about my work because it’s largely administrative. It’s more interesting (and photographic) to share what other folks on the team are doing. But I thought that I’d give you a quick snapshot into one of my current projects. It helps that Catherine decided to read my Cambodian Labour Law book for bed giving me a cute photo to use!
I’m studying Cambodian Labour Law through networking meetings (including one with local lawyers), reviewing analysis/summaries, and just putting it in the time of reading it. This is important for MCC’s legal compliance and planning in Cambodia. I’ll use what I learn to update the National Staff Handbook and Strategic Plan. In many ways, rule of law in Cambodia has improved dramatically since my last term and is continuing to strengthen. It’s hard not to focus on sectors where rule of law is still weak…but it’s clear to me that a lot of progress has been made. I suspect that big business investments are a major reason for the push. Corporations don’t like uncertain legal standards.
The current Cambodian Labour Law was drafted in 1997 and had a major amendment in 2007. There have been other small amendments (law) and prakas (regulations). However, earlier this decade there was a major shift in the interpretation of the 1997 law that has had great affect on non-Cambodian NGOs here (including MCC). MCC and other non-Cambodian NGOs had long been considered an International NGOs which exempted them from most of Cambodian Labour Law. Earlier this decade, I think around 2015, the government slowly shifted to considering non-Cambodian NGOs to be Foreign NGOs. International NGOs, in the current interpretation, are limited to those established by the Geneva Convention – such as UNICEF, World Bank, UNDP, and so on. The distinction between Foreign NGO and International NGO is a big one! This raises some challenges balancing MCC’s internal practices and Cambodian Labour Law.
Here’s one example – Cambodian Labour Law sets the retirement age for Women at 60 and the retirement age for Men at 65. But MCC policy dictates that Men and Women should have the same requirements and benefits when doing the same work!
Another example – Cambodian Labour Law considers any position with a supervisor, a job description, and a stipend (even a modest one by international standards) to be paid work. But MCC Cambodia’s entire expatriate work force is comprised of volunteers! We’ve been able to negotiate that point with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.