Year: 2011 (Date of Decision: 15 July, 2011)
Forum, Country: Constitutional Court, Azerbaijan
Standards, Rights: Right to decent work; Right to health; Right to life
Summary Background: Mr Tahirzade initiated civil proceedings against the “AMEC Services Limited” company, claiming compensation for harm caused to his health in the performance of his employment. The assessment of this claim required an interpretation by the Constitutional Court of the expressions “employer, guilty (completely or partially)” and “through employer’s fault” contained in the text of article
1. The employer who is fully or partially responsible for unfortunate incidents or work related illness is to pay in full both compensation for losses or poor health of the employee, and his medical bills for curing himself, and also pay the costs of social security organizations which paid the employee pension and stipends. 2. The employee who has suffered health problems as a result of production accidents or work illnesses that were employer’s fault, or family members and other dependents of an employee who has died because of the same reasons are to be paid a lump sum amount, monthly payments, and other extra fees related to the unfortunate incident as specified by law. of the Labour Code.
Holding: The Court addressed the right to work as enshrined in article
I. Labor is the basis of personal and public prosperity. II. Everyone has the right to choose independently, based on his/her abilities, kind of activity, profession, occupation and place of work. III. Nobody might be forced to work. IV. Labor agreements are concluded voluntarily. Nobody may be forced to conclude labor agreement. V. Based on decisions of the law court there might be cases of forced labor, terms and conditions being specified by legislation; forced labor is permissible due to orders of authorized persons during the term of army service, state of emergency or martial law. VI. Everyone has the right to work in safe and healthy conditions, to get remuneration for his/her work without any discrimination, not less than minimum wages rate established by the state. VII. Unemployed persons have the right to receive social allowances from the state.III. The state will do its best to liquidate unemployment. of the Constitution. As per article 35.I, the right to work impacts on the welfare and development of individuals and families and plays a vital role in both personal and public wellbeing. The Court affirmed the right to fair payment of wages and safe working conditions. It reaffirmed the legal protection of the right to safe and healthy working conditions and to receive payment from employment at or above the minimum wage set, and free from discrimination (article 35.VI Azerbaijan Constitution.) The Court emphasized the link between this right and the rights to life and health.
With regard to financial liability and compensation for violation of labour safety regulations, an employer may only be held liable where their guilt is proven. The Court considered article 239 of the Labour Code and held that an employer will only be liable for harm suffered to an employee’s health due to violations of labour safety standards where the employer is at fault. Article 239 of the Code requires an employer guilty of occupational accident or illness to pay full compensation to the employee for damage resulting from the injury, as well as costs of treatment, benefits and other additional costs established by the Civil Code.
According to the text of article 239 of the Labour Code, regardless of the full or partial fault of an employer, where the conditions in article 191 of the Code are satisfied (a. detection of actual damage, b. the act/omission of the guilty party contradicts a law and c. causal link between act/omission and damage suffered), the employer bears full responsibility for providing redress to the employee.
Link to Full Case: http://www.codices.coe.int/NXT/gateway.dll/CODICES/precis/eng/eur/aze/aze-2012-2-002?f=templates&fn=default.htm&vid=