It is stipulated under Art. 3(3) (b) of proclamation number 42/85 that the council of ministers by regulations will determine the inapplicability of the proclamation on employment relations established by religious on charitable organizations. So does it mean unless specific regulations are set employment disputes of religious organs are to be settled as per this proclamation? 

A case instituted in the Federal First Instance Court entertained claims of certain deacons that they had been serving their church for quite some time and since their employment contract was ceased unlawfully, they demanded to be reinstated. The court, stetting Art.3 (b) of proclamation 42/85, stated that the employment was terminated unlawfully hence ordered the reinstatement of the deacons. The High Court affirmed the lower court’s decision. The case was brought to the Cassation bench. The bench after analyzing the issue decided proper interpretation ought to be giving to art. 3(b) of proclamation 42/85. 

Generally the labor law incorporates, with the exception of certain circumstances, all things related to worker employer relations. When we come to religious institutions different kinds of work relationships may be there. One of such relations may be a work relation that could be directly linked to the faith and religion of that certain institution (e.g. – deacons, priests). On the other hand there are also other work relations that are not linked to the religion like cashier, store keeper…). 

If one looks at the work relations directly linked with the religion, any dispute arising from the employer-worker relationships has to be dealt with the procedures and rules of the particular religion. Otherwise interfering with the work relation will indirectly imply interfering with the religion. 

So, if one interprets Art. 3(b) of proclamation 42/85 in a way that the labor law will be applicable on religious work relations directly linked to faith and religion of the institution, it will be contradicting to Article 11 of the constitution which states that state and religion are separate. 

Hence proclamation 42/85 Article 3(b) has to be interpreted in a way that the code may apply to relations that are not linked to the faith or the religion of the institution. 

Having said that, the bench dismissed the decision of lower courts giving the justification the labor law doesn’t have jurisdiction to try matters that involve religions work relations. 

So, what one can infer from this is that any employment relations involving employees employed for direct religious matters cannot be judged based on the labor proclamation. 

If you have an additional question or comment please  Contact us.

Any pertinent information on the subject can be available from any Ethiopian Lawyer, Ethiopian Employment Lawyer, Ethiopian Investment Lawyer, Ethiopian Tax lawyer, Ethiopian Immigration lawyer, Ethiopian divorce Lawyer, Ethiopian Tax lawyer, and Ethiopian Labour Relationship Lawyer.