Labour Law for foreigners planning to work and live in Mauritius

Mauritius, and without any doubt, is now positioned as a leading international business centre. This is the result of a combination of factors: the vision of our leaders, constant investment and effort over the years and implementing a well defined national strategy. From an agriculture based economy, the island has successfully transformed itself into a world class financial hub . One of the drivers of such a success story lies in the way foreign capital and expertise have been injected into our economy.

Foreign labour is today part and parcel of almost every economic sector in Mauritius. And the proper management of foreign labour according to set laws is therefore a growing concern for business owners. Contrary to common belief, employing of foreign labour involves several laws over and above the Employments Rights Act. We have often came across cases where expatriates are not fully aware of their rights, obligations and responsibilities. They are pushed to the wall and are, in a lot of cases, left with no other choice than to leave the country (without adequate compensation). In some cases where matters go to court, it is fairly common practice for employers to trigger the deportation of the employee themselves. This then results in the concerned person being absent from court with no case to answer. Next in our HR series of articles, we intend to devote some time to foreign workers living and working on the island. This article focuses on the first stage of foreign labour employment : securing work and residence permits.

Foreigners who work in Mauritius need to abide by the Immigration Act as far as their residence is concerned. The employer has the responsibility of ensuring that all required Laws are respected. Work and residence can be considered as two separate things and both call for distinct procedures to be followed. Basically one needs to get approval to work (through a work permit for example) and based on this approval, you are then allowed to stay and work in Mauritius. This permission to stay comes in the form of a residence permit. The work permit scheme is regulated under the labour law and the Immigration Act. The scheme caters for employees with a salary not exceeding Rs45,000 a month.

A Mauritian company wishing to employ a foreigner, has to make an application for a work permit to the Ministry of Labour. Depending on the industry, the employer needs to seek prior approval to recruit foreign labour before actually submitting an application. In other words, one has to ask for permission to apply for work permit. The Ministry will then decide whether there is a scarcity of such labour on the local market and allow the employer to look for the ideal candidate abroad. Once the candidate is selected, there is a specific set of procedures to be undertaken. At this stage, the application stage, the employee must not undertake any travel to Mauritius. He or she should await the final outcome of the application before entering the country. Application procedures involve presenting the qualifications of the candidate, original copies of medical examination results, a job profile and details of the post to be occupied. In cases when the proposed salary is less than Rs30,000, the proposed contract of employment has to be validated by the Ministry prior to submitting the work permit application. The medical results should be submitted to the Ministry of Health for a provisional clearance. In parallel, the employer has to also submit an application for a residence permit to the Passport and Immigration Office. The processing of both applications may take from one to three months.

The work permit scheme can in some cases also cater for business promoters who do not fit the criteria of Investor Occupation Permit, i.e. invest US$100,000 and generate Rs4 million as annual turnover. Here the promoter may apply as a managing director drawing a salary of less than Rs45,000 per month. However, the company needs to justify the presence of the managing director, why such presence is essential and why no Mauritian is able to hold this post.

The biggest constraint with the work permit scheme is that applicants must stay in their country and wait for the outcome of their application prior to entering Mauritius. On the brighter side though, and contrary to the Occupation Permit (see below) where the applicant needs to be in Mauritius, a work permit allows you get approval before spending huge sums of money on flights and accommodation to come all the way here.

With changes in the global socio-economic environment coupled by the need for Mauritius to attract higher skills, other schemes have been introduced with time. One such scheme is the Occupation Permit (OP). This scheme is managed by the Board of Investment (BOI) but the Passport & Immigration office is the authority that issues this permit; operating under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Office. Occupation Permits provide for a streamlined set of procedures, faster processing time and also take into account the modern human resources environment.

Occupation Permits (OP) are divided into four categories; investor, retired, self-employed and professionals. Employees are classified under the professional category while self-employed caters for ‘gold-collar’ professions such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, consultants, etc.

An essential condition is that the candidate should be a qualified professional and is in possession of a job offer with Rs45,000 as minimum basic monthly salary. The only exception here is in the IT sector, where the proposed salary can start as from Rs30,000 per month.

A notable difference in the procedure (as compared to work permits) is that the candidate should be present in Mauritius during the application process, on a business visa. He or she should show his original documents such as birth certificate, marriage certificate (if the spouse intends to move over as well), original or certified copies of all qualifications and testimonials. All medical examination have to be exclusively carried out in Mauritius. There is no prior clearance to to be sought from the Ministry of Health as all documents are submitted at one counter, and this is at the Board of Investment (BOI). The BOI, like most institutions in the country, has been caught in the tide for innovation. As such it his introduced a preliminary online application procedure. I admit, however, not being too sure as to the effectiveness of this step at this stage, especially since one still has to present all his documents in the conventional manner to the counter once the online step has been completed. But let’s assume that this is only due to being at teething stage and the online system, will soon be a full fledged and complete procedure that will replace conventional paper work. As an aside though, I beg to be allowed to doubt the effectiveness of the online system – officers of the BOI keep repeating this to applicants: ‘Ignore all our emails until you get the last one’. I’m sure you ask the same question as I am; how to know which one is the last email? And why must ignore official correspondence from an authority, if it takes the trouble of sending or generating these emails? Well, this is not the subject of our blog but I can’t refrain myself from adding two pinch of my personal salt (!).

The processing time for an Occupation permit ranges between 10 to 15 days. In the earlier days, Mauritius was boasting itself of a processing time of 3 working days. This processing time was initially part of an overall strategy to attract foreign labour and capital, reflecting the standards of a modern business jurisdiction. The law even stated that if one did not get one’s permits within a maximum delay of 7 days, it can be assumed that the permit has been granted. The receipt certifying submission of your application would legally stand as the Occupation Permit! Today this ‘speed processing’ strategy seems to have vanished.

Holders of an OP have access to other incentives over the medium and long term. Under certain conditions, they can purchase an apartment in, at its minimum, a two-storey complex. Those earning more than Rs150,000 a month can even apply for a Permanent Residence. Word of caution though: Permanent Residence is a 10 year renewable permit with the ability to purchase any type of residential property.

Those aspiring to work and live in Mauritius have ensure they adequate knowledge of the immigration laws first. This law might, in some cases, supersede the labour act. In cases of breach, it can lead to expulsion even if the person is happily working in the job of his or her dreams. It is recommended that you consult a professional to assist (or confirm) foreign labour recruitment plans. If you are a future expatriate or thinking about the ways to benefit from the professional residence scheme, do not hesitate to contact our team for advice and guidance.

Foreign labour is an essential and integral part of the progress achieved by our island. Expatriates have been contributing at every level and we, as Mauritians, need to acknowledge this contribution. The legendary hospitable culture of the island makes work and living a very enjoyable experience for foreigners. However, at times abuse by employers, mostly in bulk employment situations, have tarnished the reputation of the island. Inhuman accommodation conditions, bad work conditions and insufficient remuneration (or even its complete absence) have been highlighted in the press. It should be said and noted, however, that the reaction of the Minister of Labour in the recent part was quick, to the point and very effective.

This is proof enough that Mauritian authorities are doing their best to maintain the reputation of Mauritius as a world class destination for entrepreneurs and skilled professionals.

Http://Www.gibsonandhills.com

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About Gibson & Hills

Gibson & Hills Ltd is a consultancy firm that offers specialized services and solutions to people and businesses , operating in or with Mauritius. We advise on business creation, management and immigration issues to help foreigners set base in paradise-island. Mauritius is one of the world's most avantgarde business jurisdictions and offers an excellent quality of life standard. Invest in Mauritius and choose to live next to the world's finest beaches and turquoise lagoons. A low tax regime, streamlined procedures and friendly business framework give you a cutting-edge advantage on the international playground. Our team will advise you in selecting the best options available through personalized counseling. We take every project as a unique one. We know that behind every project lies the dreams and ambitions of someone. Our philosophy is to value, respect and ensure this dream and give what it takes to transform it into reality. Invest in Mauritius. Relocate and open the doors to paradise.
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10 Responses to Labour Law for foreigners planning to work and live in Mauritius

  1. Daden Venkatasawmy says:

    Please note that the contents here need updating. Check official websites for reliable information.

    • Thank you for your comments Daden. If you understand the basic principle of web contents, you would understand that this is a blog not a website. A blog is an article written at a particular time and it is relevant at that time. A blog is read in context with the time it is written.

      A website is dynamic and shows information relevant all the time.

      So, please read our contents bases on the time tag it appeared.

      I hope you understand internet contents principles better now.

      We had Next Jobs which copied our blog three years after its publication. This is an example of plagiarism of outdated contents which you should also take note 🙂

      I would presume, Mr Daden, that this is not so unfamiliar to you !

      If you want to compete do not copy, do your own content. This is our message to those who copy us. We extend our thanks to them for taking freely education from us. We are glad to participate in the education of pseudo experts.

      Our loyal readers here will appreciate that our copiers do not make difference between blogs and website, yet they run blogs.

      Unlike the blog where they censored my comments, I’ll published this one to show that we know what we are doing! Mr Daden, if you need further assistance to understand the web and its contents, feel free to send us your questions.

      All the best to those copy enterprises. We are coming with more original contents. Take your pen and notebook…. Ready to copy Next ?

      Regards
      Nadeem

  2. Hi,
    Am from Nigeria, I was recently given a job offer to work as a restaurant security in Mauritius. the name of the company is Shoprite Port Louis. with salary of Rs 95000. pls I want to know all about this offer from the company. The date for my entering into the country is by 4/06/2017 Thanks for your assistance

    • Hi Isaac

      Congratulations for the job!
      A first sight, I can tell you that you are qualified to get an Occupation Permit (and your family a residence permit) based on the salary you mentioned. The other part of your question is not clear, viz: you want to know all about the offer. Can you please clarify?
      You may also contact me by email nadeem@gibsonandhills.com

      Kind regards
      Nadeem

  3. Thank you very much.
    Someone interpreted this statement to mean yearly while it stands for monthly here in my country, so I want you to please explain base on Mauritius policy if the salary stands for monthly or year. here is the statement as it appears “The Employer shall pay the Employee a basic wage of Rs 95000. At the basic wages shall be adjusted each year as per the appropriate Additional Remuneration Act” thanks for the more emphasis.

    • Hello Isaac

      Salary is normally mentioned on monthly basis in Mauritius.

      It’s true that it is not clearly defined, in your case. It is usually ‘taken for granted’ that the figure represent payment per month.
      Yearly adjustments does not mean adjustment on the ‘yearly wages’ but an annual exercise to adjust the ‘monthly wages’.

      Kind regards
      Nadeem

      • Thanks a lot.
        Now I can be rest assured that it is per month and not yearly as was early misunderstood. God bless. Will be in Mauritius on 4/06/2017.

      • Isaac

        Still, I think you should clarify this point with management.
        Contact me when you’re around. We can chat around coffee someday !

        And this applies to all our readers!

        Regards
        Nadeem

  4. Thanks.
    I don’t think there will be any difference since that is the payment policies, that is per month.
    will be glad to meet with you. Thanks and God bless. I will signal you as soon as am opportuned

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