Islam and Labour Laws

The concept of regulating workers’ rights is relatively new, with many laws only coming into being in the last few years. Well before labour unions were founded to fight for workers’ rights, Islam already laid out a comprehensive set of guidelines in this regard.

The first basic right of a worker is the right to compensation in return for the effort exerted and the time spent on the job. The Hadith says that Allah will be an opponent on the Day of Judgement of one who employs a worker and takes full work from him but does not pay him for his labor. (Bukhari)

Workers should not be overburdened with work. They have the right to physical and mental rest. The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam spoke about giving the body its share of rest by saying ‘and your body and your family have a right on you’. (Bukhari) Also, he recommended that workers should be treated kindly in order not to be made to feel inferior. He used to sit on the floor and eat with his servant Anas ibn Malik.

He also said: ‘Your servants are your brethren upon whom Allah has given you authority. So, if one has one's brethren under one's control, one should feed them with the like of what one eats and clothe them with the like of what one wears. You should not overburden them with what they cannot bear, and if you do so, help them in their hard job. (Bukhari)