6 of the most unusual labor laws around the globe

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Last week, the media erupted about a provision in France’s recent labor reforms, which are known as the “El Khomri law.”

The regulation encourages companies to develop policies limiting work-related use of digital devices during nonwork hours, The New Yorker reports.

Reactions from the US have varied, but the commentary that followed illustrates the novelty of such provisions to American workers.

But France isn’t alone in its experimentation with workplace rules. Here are seven of the most unusual labor laws from around the globe:


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In Japan, employers are required to measure the waistlines of employees between the ages of 40 and 74

The so-called Metabo Law was introduced in 2008 in an attempt to reduce the number of overweight citizens in Japan.

The law requires companies (and local government) to measure their employees within this age range to make sure that their waistlines don’t fall outside of predetermined limits, The New York Timesreports. These limits are 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women.

If the employee’s waistline exceeds the maximum measurements allowed, or an employee has a weight-related illness, he or she is required to go to dieting classes if he or she doesn’t lose the necessary weight in three months.


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Women are barred from doing physically demanding work in China.
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In China, women are prohibited from performing jobs that the government deems ‘physically demanding’

These jobs include mining, logging timber, and high-altitude work that involves carrying anything 44 pounds or more, according to a study in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.


The municipality of Isesaki, Japan, requires its male employees to shave their beards

In 2010, local government banned its employees from exhibiting any form of facial hair, after the public allegedly complained about beards being “unpleasant,” according to The Guardian.

At press time, we have found no evidence to suggest that this law has been repealed, though we are unable to verify the extent to which it is enforced.


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In Saudi Arabia, men are not allowed to work in lingerie stores.
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In Saudi Arabia, only women can work in lingerie shops

The regulation was supposedly introduced due to women expressing discomfort with purchasing underwear from men, the Los Angeles Times reports.


In India, companies with more than 100 employees cannot fire people without government permission

The exception to this rule is if the employee was found guilty of criminal misconduct, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The law is rooted in the period when the British ruled the region and has been largely been left unchanged, even as India underwent substantial economic reforms in 1991, The Washington Post reports.


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In Madagascar, women cannot work at night unless it’s for a “family establishment.”
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Women in Madagascar are prohibited from working at night, except in ‘family establishments’

Prohibited workplaces include charities and religious establishments, according to Equality Now.