Right to work and duty to work

Whilst in prison, you have the right to apply for paid work if any position is available. However, you cannot demand that the prison administration create a position for you. You may also be asked to do certain unpaid work for the maintenance of the prison.

Read more about the specific rules for paid and unpaid work:

Unpaid work

The prison administration may ask you to do some work which is necessary for the maintenance of the prison facilities. This work should not exceed 4 hours a day. This work may involve cleaning the prison territory, helping to organize a cultural event and other similar tasks. Although this work is unpaid, it will not be considered to be forced labour and will not, therefore, violate your rights. 

According to Latvian law, certain categories of people (such as nursing mothers or people of old age) may not be required to do this work. 

important Work should not be used as a punishment or means of discrimination and humiliation. In addition, the work must not be excessively long or heavy.

What human rights violations may there be?

If you have been forced to do work that is not for prison maintenance or other type of work for periods clearly exceeding limits set under the law, this may lead to the violation against the prohibition of forced labour

How to complain

If you are forced to do maintenance work exceeding the limits allowed by law, you should complain to the Latvian Prison Administration. Read more about how to complain.

Paid work

The prison administration does not have a duty to provide you with the type of work you want to do. It is only required to try to find work for as many prisoners as reasonably possible, depending on resources and the availability of positions.

Application procedure

According to Latvian law, if paid working places are available in prison, you may apply for those positions to the head of the prison. The prison head will then examine your application and make a decision on your suitability, based on security and other reasons. Priority for a particular position will be given to prisoners with the most suitable education and experience. Where there are several equal applicants, the one who was the first to submit an application will be chosen. 

The position must not be denied to you on illegally discriminatory grounds. 

example The reason that you did not get the position must not be due to your nationality, skin colour or religion.  

Investigative prison 

If you are in an investigative prison, you may work if the prison administration provides position. According to Latvian law, you should receive permission not only from the head of the prison, but also from the official or institution in charge of your case (for example, from the police, prosecutor or court) to be allowed to work during this period.

Applicable law

General rules in the Labour law must be complied with during your work. However, the Sentence Execution code provides some exceptions. For example, the minimum salary of prisoners accommodated in closed or partly closed prisons equate to half of the minimum salary of persons outside of prisons. 

What human rights violations may there be?

If you have been denied a paid work position because of your nationality, skin colour or for other prohibited grounds, the prohibition against discrimination or unequal treatment may have been violated.

How to complain 

If you believe that the head of the prison has denied your application on unlawful grounds, you should appeal this decision to the Latvian Prison Administration. You cannot appeal this decision in court.

If you are employed in prison by either a state institution or a private employer, all disputes related to employment must be resolved according to the procedure set out in the Civil Procedure Law and in the Labour Law. You can also submit a complaint to the State Labour Inspectorate. Read more about how to complain.

Human Rights Guide

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