Recent changes to work permits in Vanuatu

As you may have heard; on 30 November 2018, the Parliament adopted a series of amendments to the law governing work permits. The amended law was subsequently published in the official gazette on 15 January. As such, it has now entered into force and is hence fully applicable.

The key amendments which were adopted are as follow:

1. Recruitment of foreign workers

Employees wishing to recruit non-residents will from now on have to submit to the Labour Department a much more detailed file justifying the selection and recruitment of a non-resident candidate.

If AJC is already supporting you with your recruitment and work permits, you do not have to worry about this, as we will adapt our procedures according to the revised law.

If AJC is not supporting you with your work permits, please feel free to contact us to get more information on this service that we are offering.

2. Work permits and VIPA

People holding a VIPA foreign investment approval will no longer be able to work as an employee (with a work permit) in a business different from the one for which they have a VIPA certificate. The opposite is also forbidden, an employee that holds a work permit cannot become a foreign investor unless he has left his foreign employee status to become only an investor with a VIPA.

If you are in this situation, please feel free to contact us so that we can review together the possible alternatives.

3. Cost of work permit

The cost for a work permit will increase from Vt210,000 to Vt330,000.

4. Renewal of work permit

From now on, no work permit will be renewed beyond 4 years.

Please note that from the discussion that we held with the Department of Labour, we understand that the 4 year period commences from January 2019, i.e. at the date the law entered into force, NOT at the date that the first work permit was issued.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

5. Cancellation of work permit:

The Department of Labour will be empowered to cancel a work permit if it considers that the holder of the work permit did not comply with the terms of this work permit (this includes the obligation for all employees to train a local counterpart, prohibition of mistreatment of staff (such as verbal or physical abuse, etc. )

The Department of Labour has decided to tighten its controls over possible abuse by non-resident workers and managers and strictly enforce the work permit cancellation provisions. This gives more flexibility to the Labour office to not renew the work permit of a foreigner that does not strictly follow the Act. 

6. Appeal of decisions by the Department of Labour

In order to contest a decision by the Department of Labour, the appeal will no longer be with the Minister, but with a special committee created by the revised law.

If you are in such case and you need assistance, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.

We hope that this email provides some clarification on these recent developments. If you still have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Changes to the Partnership Act in Vanuatu

Partnership (Amendment) Act n°26 of 2018, as published in the Official Gazette dated January 9 2019, has made some significant changes to the Partnership Act.

In short, partnership is the relation which subsists between persons carrying on a business (ie. every trade, occupation or profession) in common with a view of profit (this definition does not apply to companies or associations which are registered under the Companies Act n°25 of 2012 or any other Act).

You may have, in the course of your business, entered into an agreement, to share the profits of a business, which might characterize a partnership.

Whereas the Partnership Act did not require the registration of partnerships, the Act n°26 now set forth the obligation to register partnerships and to fulfil all annual requirements (renewal, annual report).

According to the information that you may provide, we will be glad to help you determine if some of your businesses can be seen as partnerships.

When appropriate, we can propose to organize your registration and to take in charge your annual obligations.