Study of labor laws and obstacles to compliance in Honduras

Publication Date: 

March 1, 2004



La Reporte en Espanol


This report, commissioned by ILRF in Costa Rica in (x year), found evidence of the following labor rights violations in summary.

Right to Associate

Freedom of association is not granted to agricultural workers at workplaces with fewer than ten permanent workers. As many agricultural workers are seasonal or otherwise contractual, they are denied the right to associate.

Obstacles and delays in union registration constitute a violation of ILO Convention 87 on the right to associate.

Decree 10-97 from February 26, 1997, called the Regulations for Union Associations, also openly violates freedom of association by imposing illegal obligations and requirements that limit union organizations' right to freely create their statutes and regulations. It also expressly establishes the possibility that the Ministry of Labor can directly convoke an assembly, and authorizes the presence of administrative authorities at a union's assemblies. These are clear violations of freedom of association.

The number of union members who are not Honduran citizens is limited to 10%. This discriminates against foreign workers and prevents them from fully participating in unions, violating the principles of freedom of association.

Foreigners are also prohibited from holding leadership positions in unions (Article 510), which constitutes discrimination and violates ILO Convention 87.

If the number of union members drops below 30, labor law allows the Ministry of Labor to dissolve the union. This violates Article 4 of ILO Convention 87, which prohibits unions from being dissolved through administrative processes.

There is no special procedure for addressing the dismissals of union leaders.

State security agents systematically repress unionization attempts through firings, detentions, and physical abuse, "to guarantee the security of investments."

Right to Bargain Collectively

While public employees have the right to unionize, they are prohibited from negotiating collective bargaining agreements, according to Article 534 of the Labor Code. This situation, besides being discriminatory, also violates Article 1.1 of ILO Convention 98.

The Honduran Labor Code determines the thematic content that collective bargaining agreements must include, and indicates what may not be regulated by these agreements (Articles 58, 78-). In other words, the law restricts the issues that collective bargaining agreements may address, and also restricts unions' autonomy. The Honduran government also reserves the right to standardize and register the results of the collective negotiations before the Minister of Labor, meaning that there is rigid state control of the content of the negotiations.

Both situations violate ILO Convention 98.

Child Labor

The Constitution establishes that the minimum working age is 16. However the Labor Code allows children to start working at age 14, if they continue to attend school.

In principle, children between the ages of 14 and 16 may only work 4 hours per day and 20 hours per week. However, the Law on Child Labor in Honduras says that adolescents over age 16 can be authorized to work past 8 p.m. as long as the work does not affect their ability to attend school. Obviously, any child that works until 8 p.m. is not going to attend school regularly.

Wages, Hours and Working Conditions

Although health and safety in the workplace is regulated on paper, there are no measures of prevention or control, and most significantly, no sanctions for violations of the law.