JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq -- Business owners from the local Iraqi-Based Industrial Zone met to discuss Iraqi labor law here, June 29.

The conference was coordinated by I-BIZ and Provincial Reconstruction Team officials here to educate I-BIZ employers on JBB about Iraq's labor laws.

"Even though the Iraqi labor law has been in existence since 1987, not everyone may be aware of the specifics of the law," said Lt. Col. Barbra A. Bachmeier from the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and I-BIZ officer in charge.

Bachmeier said some I-BIZ employees recently expressed concerns about not being paid, working extended hours and receiving pay cuts.

"We wanted to bring someone in to educate the businessmen so they know what is within Iraqi labor law," Bachmeier said. The conference included two local Iraqi attorneys who spoke on the specifics of the Iraqi Labor Law, addressing such issues as minimum wage, sick leave and written contract requirements.

The lawyers also spoke on changes made in 2005 to the Iraqi labor law. "The conference was very beneficial for the employees and the workers," said Raed Muzahim, an Iraqi business owner on JBB. Raed has operated on JBB since October of 2008.

"If a workers stops working because of illness or an accident as a result of his work, I learned how to help ensure his rights for him and his family." Unlike the American labor system, which relies heavily on 'at-will' employment -generally meaning either employer or employee can terminate employment any time without liability - Iraqi labor code requires a labor contract for any job lasting more than one month.

"Several of them expressed now that they know what the laws are, they will draft contracts with their employees to ensure they are in compliance with Iraqi law," Bachmeier said.

I-BIZ hosts seven businesses on JBB which employ 119 Iraqis.