Quality of Work for Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Maha Kattaa and Meredith Byrne

Forced Migration Review 58, June 2018, pp. 45-46



Over 100,000 work permits have been issues to Syrian refugees in Jordan as of May 2018, providing an indicator of formalization of employment but not necessarily job creation nor quality of work. This article makes the case that obtaining a work permit is only the first step towards formalizing Syrian workers in Jordan, and policies must also improve working conditions. A 2017 ILO rapid impact assessment found:

  • Only 20 percent of Syrian workers with work permits reported being covered by social security; 13 percent did not know whether they were covered.
  • Labor inspectors appear to prioritize verifying that all foreign workers, including Syrian workers, have the required permits but pay less attention to work conditions. Only 8 percent of Syrian workers with work permits reported that their working conditions were checked during labor inspections.
  • Syrians with work permits are more likely to have written work contracts, but hourly wages, safety provisions and relations with employers are not necessarily better. Syrians with permits are working in excess of a standard 40-hour work week, but none reported receiving overtime compensation.

The authors recommend that government policies must continue to promote decent work conditions including mechanisms that bring workers into national social protection systems. They also suggest that labor inspectors could help to promote decent work if they were equipped to provide recommendations to employers and workers to help them comply with regulations and standards.