The ministerial decree of 19 April 2019 establishing a new template for foreign employment contracts allows foreign employees to be treated in the same way as Moroccan employees.
Foreigners wishing to work in Morocco must comply with certain procedures and complete formalities leading to the issuance of a work permit which takes the form of a visa affixed to the foreigners' employment contract by the Moroccan Ministry of Labor and Professional Integration.
Moroccan judges have long considered that the duration of the employment contract with a foreign employee should be linked to the duration of the visa issued by the Ministry. Yet, such visas have always been fixed-term, thus a foreigners' employment contract was considered by Moroccan courts as a fixed-term contract as well. In that respect, the legal nature of an expat's employment contract has consequences regarding the entitlement of foreigners to severance pay in the event of wrongful termination of the contract. Indeed, in the event of a breach of a fixed-term contract, the employee is only entitled to compensation as wages corresponding to the unpaid months of said contract and therefore will have no right to severance indemnities specific to open-ended contracts.
However, a decision of 16 October 2018 reversed the existing case law: the Moroccan Court of Cassation ruled that the visa procedure has "no impact on the legal construction of the contract" and construed the foreign employment contract as an open-ended contract.
In addition, the Moroccan Supreme Court has considered that depriving a foreign employee of severance is discriminatory and in contradiction with the international conventions governing workers' rights to which Morocco is a signatory.
Considering this issue, the decree of the Minister of Labor and Professional Integration no. 1356-19 of 19 April 2019 establishing the new template of the foreign employment contract allows henceforth equal treatment between Moroccan and foreign employees. Indeed, the latter are entitled now to conclude open-ended contracts and can therefore benefit from severance pay in the event of a wrongful termination of their employment contract by the employer.
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