A victory for labor rights and transparency in Georgia

In a positive step for workers’ rights, the Labor Inspectorate of Georgia reversed its decision to hide employers’ names from their inspection reports, effectively shielding infringing companies from public scrutiny.

The Labor Inspectorate monitors labor safety and rights in the country, conducts scheduled and unannounced inspections of workplaces, documents violations of labor laws, and makes recommendations for remediation. It can trigger alerts, impose fines, or even shut down operations if a company doesn’t fix violations.

Between 2020 and early 2023, the regulator regularly shared the reports — including information on employers — with the Georgia Fair Labor Platform, a labor rights advocacy coalition that includes unions and unions civil society organizations. But in April 2023, regulators suddenly began blacking out employers’ personal details, falsely claiming that this information was “confidential”.

The Georgia Fair Labor Platform had asked for the reports to be uploaded to its Labor Rights Monitor, a public database that tracks and publishes Georgia Labor Inspectorate inspections and provides easy access to the documents. Although Georgia’s labor inspection reports are technically public, they are not proactively published by the inspectorate. Therefore, the monitor fills an important gap by allowing people to search the documents based on various parameters, including the name of the employer.

Companies may have been uncomfortable with their labor law violations being exposed publicly, but transparency is key, especially given the young nature of Georgia’s labor rights inspectorate. It was completely abolished between 2006 and 2015 and only resumed its full mandate in 2021. During her absence, Georgia’s labor law landscape deteriorated dramatically: research shows that unpaid overtime is now widespread, wage theft by employers is common and workers are subject to abuse. and most salaries are well below a living wage.

Against this backdrop, the Fair Labor Platform filed a lawsuit challenging the regulator’s new policy in July. Human Rights Watch also publicly called on the Labor Inspectorate to reverse the case regardless of the outcome of the case.

In late August, the Labor Inspectorate did the right thing and resumed sending unedited reports to the Fair Labor Platform. This ensures the transparency of its work, which is crucial for improving business practices in Georgia and strengthening workers’ rights.