Komron Tursunmurodov

Image source: www.politicalyouthnetwork.org

Teachers in Uzbekistan were often victims of forced labor and various labor violations, such as salary withholding for school improvements and involvement in tasks unrelated to their professional duties. While the Labor Code of Uzbekistan addresses pedagogues’ work within the framework of general labor relationships, the recently enacted Law “On the Status of Pedagogues” confers special status to teachers, recognizing them as a distinct entity within labor relations.

This post aims to clarify the term “pedagogue,” examine two cases of teachers’ labor rights violations, and highlight the protection of labor rights afforded by the new status accorded to teachers through a detailed comparison of the new law with the existing Labor Code of Uzbekistan. Additionally, it proposes that lawmakers consider implementing a new form of accountability, specifically criminal liability, for those found guilty of infringing upon pedagogues’ labor rights.

Who is a pedagogue?

First, it is important to make clear who a pedagogue is due to the common misconception that only school teachers are considered pedagogues.

Article 3 of the Law “On the Status of Pedagogues” defines a pedagogue as “an individual who carries out professional activities in the field of education and upbringing in an educational organization based on an employment contract concluded by legislative acts, and who possesses the appropriate education, professional training and spiritual and moral qualities.”Despite this definition, the law does not specify the type of educational organizations in which they work — whether governmental or private — or the level of education, such as higher, secondary, or professional.

However, educational organizations (governmental or private) are categorized into three types according to Articles 29-30 of the Law “On Education”: higher educational organizations (universities, academies, institutes, and higher schools), secondary educational organizations (such as schools), and professional educational organizations (vocational schools, colleges, and technical schools). Therefore, teachers working in any of these educational organizations should be recognized as pedagogues.

Protecting pedagogues’ labor rights through new regulations.

Case 1. Forced Labor – When Does It End?

In 2019, teachers at a school in Namangan, were subjected to forced labor. The principal claimed that teachers were willingly cleaning up the school’s territory and improving conditions, referring to the practice as a “hashar,” a voluntary work aimed at landscaping. In 2023, similar incident occurred at a school in  Yashnabad district, Tashkent, where teachers were again forced to clean the territory of the school.

These cases highlight the issue of teachers becoming victims of forced labor. National legislation, such as the Labor Code (Article 5) and the Resolution of Cabinet of Ministers “On additional measures to eliminate forced labor in Uzbekistan” prohibits the involvement of employees in forced labor. Furthermore, Uzbekistan has ratified the Forced Labor Convention and the Abolition of Forced Labor Convention. According to these conventions, forced or compulsory labor refers all work or service exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. Additionally, countries that ratified these conventions should undertake to suppress and not to make use of any form of forced or compulsory labor.

Despite these national and international acts, employers, particularly head of educational organizations, have continued to involve pedagogues in forced labor. This was a significant factor leading to the enactment of a law establishing the status of pedagogues. The Law “On the status of pedagogues” prohibits the involvement of teachers in tasks unrelated to their professional activities including landscaping and agricultural tasks. That means teachers should not be involved in any form of “hashar” by their employers as in aforementioned cases. With the implementation of this law, the penalties for committing this type of offense have increased. For instance, Oliy Majlis (parliament of Uzbekistan) has passed new legislation as part of efforts to eradicate forced labor, focusing on enhancing legislative frameworks and enforcement mechanisms to effectively address cases where educational staff are being tasked with duties unrelated to their job responsibilities.

Another reason for developing this kind of law derives from the Constitutional norms. Since Article 52 of the Constitution enshrines that in Uzbekistan, the work of a teacher is recognized as the foundation for the development of society and the state, the formation and education of a healthy, harmoniously developed generation, the preservation and enhancement of the spiritual and cultural potential of the people – a special law must establish teachers’ status. Moreover, the government ensures the protection of teachers’ honor and dignity, their social and financial well-being and professional development.

As a result, amendments were made to the Code of Uzbekistan on Administrative Liability (CAL) as well as the Criminal Code (CC). Article 51 of CAL was revised to establish liability for administrative coercion to work in any form, committed against a pedagogical worker of an educational organization. A new part was added to Article 1482 of CC, stipulating that administrative coercion to work in any form, except in cases provided by law, committed against a pedagogical worker of an educational organization, after the application of an administrative penalty for the same act is punished by several sanctions.

Case 2. Teachers’ salaries are not a school’s property, are they?

The administration of school №30 in Urgench notified teachers that almost 30 percent of their August salary would be withheld to buy blinds and furniture for school classrooms. Teachers who objected to such extortion were threatened with dismissal or reduction of working hours. As they reported, such salary deductions were a recurring issue.

Docking teachers’ salaries has become a common dilemma in Uzbekistan. Consequently, a new law established prohibitions on withholding funds for goods and services from the teachers’ salaries without their written consent (Article 5). However, this appears to duplicate existing labor legislation which already limits deductions from salaries with the employee’s consent. Article 269 of the Labor Code determines that deductions from salaries are generally made with the written consent of the employee.

Article 5 of the new law also introduced a new prohibition – forcing pedagogues to purchase goods and services. In the abovementioned case, we can see that teachers are forced to contribute to the purchase of furniture for school classrooms using their salaries. Based on the interpretation of the Labor Code, employers are not given the right to force their employees to buy anything from them. Such relationships go beyond the scope of labor legislation and fall under civil relationships which are regulated by the Civil Code because the process of buying and selling things is carried out based on a contract. Importantly, Article 354 of the Civil Code establishes that citizens are free to enter contracts, emphasizing that it is an obligatory element of a contract. That means forcing someone to enter into a contract is not allowed. The violation of this rule means the invalidity of a contract, according to Article 116 of the Civil Code.


It is true that the legislators took a comprehensive and correct approach to eradicating forced labor by introducing new types of liability or increasing the existed ones. However, a more practical method for ensuring pedagogues’ labor rights would be to enhance the type of liability for breaching labor legislation and develop oversight mechanisms. For instance, only Article 49 of CAL stipulates administrative liability for violating labor legislation. This article covers all violations that breach the Labor Code. Simultaneously, Articles 5 and 25 of the Labor Code directly set forth that “forced labor is prohibited,” meaning that involving a pedagogue in forced labor would be considered as a violation of labor legislation. Therefore, improving liability for violating labor legislation – specifically, establishing criminal liability for this kind of offense would be more effective.

Besides, threatening teachers with dismissal for rejecting salary deductions is a violation that should incur administrative liability for employers under Article 49 of the CAL. Hence, broadening the liability is preferable compared to amending certain norms that are also related to labor relations. While the new law aims to protect pedagogues’ labor rights, including their salaries, it duplicates some provisions of existing labor legislation. Enhancing liability for labor law violations, such as those against teachers at schools in Namangan and Urgench, could better safeguard their rights.


This blog post has discussed the challenges in ensuring the implementation of pedagogues’ professional activities within the sphere of labor law, particularly focusing on the issue of forced labor and docking salaries. It is assumed that while labor rights of pedagogues are guaranteed by existing labor legislation, the new Law “On the Status of Pedagogues” specifies some new prohibitions, establishing pedagogues’ special status in labor relationships; however, almost repeating the norms of current legislation. The Uzbek parliament established new types of administrative and criminal liability for forcing pedagogical workers to be involved in work unrelated to their professional activities. However, similar outcomes could have been achieved by broadening liability for labor law violations, including the introduction of criminal sanctions for offenses in the labor field. Therefore, to fully ensure pedagogues’ labor rights, it’s imperative to both refine the labor legislation itself and strengthen the liability for its breach.

Cite as:  Komron Tursunmurodov, “Overcoming Barriers: Protecting the Labor Rights of Pedagogues from Forced Labor and Docked Salary”, Uzbekistan Law Blog, 09.07.2024.