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Jordan Labor Watch: Violations against resident doctors amount to “forced labor”

A report  issued by Jordan Labor Watch of the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation argued  that labor violations faced by doctors enrolled in hospital residency programs amount to “forced labor”, and that they are considered interns rather than doctors.

Residency programmes are defined as programmes that doctors join to gain experience within a particular medical specialty, through a 5-6 year residency in the field. Training in residency programmes includes providing treatment and patient diagnosis, attending lectures and taking examinations.

The report showed  that a majority of resident doctors work without pay, while a minority  are paid the minimum wage of 260 JOD within the Ministry of Labor’s employment and training programme.

The report highlighted the most prominent violations to which resident doctors were subjected, such as lengthy working hours – sometimes exceeding 100 hours per week without any pay – and the majority of resident doctors’ exclusion from  Social Security.

According to the report, resident doctors are under constant pressure due to daily work shifts of up to 38 hours, in addition to not granted days off on weekends, public holidays, annual leave, and – for female resident doctors – rarely  being granted  maternity leave.

The report attributed the practice and increase of these violations to the multiplicity of residency programs offered by some hospitals in the public and private sectors or in medical services.

Some private medical institutions offer residency programmes either without pay or with pay that often will not exceed the minimum wage of 260 JOD per month.

Some hospitals also require doctors to pay an annual fee for their training, which ranges from 1,200 to 3,000 JOD, with the justification that they are interns, not doctors.

The report showed that residency programmes in Jordan are divided into two types: paid residency programmes for doctors on contract in Ministry of Health hospitals and some private hospitals, and unpaid residency programmes.

The number of residencies available ranges from 1,100 to 1,200 per year, while the number of medical school graduates is approximately  2,500 graduates annually.

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