Client Alert : Equatorial Guinea

 

REVISED RULES ON THE ISSUANCE, RENEWAL AND CANCELLATION OF WORK PERMITS

What happened?

Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Labour, Employment Promotion and Social Security (the “Ministry”) has passed Ministerial Order1/2018 dated 5th of September (the “Order”) regulating the procedure for the issuance, renewal and cancellation of work permits in Equatorial Guinea.

The Order reaffirms that any person who enters Equatorial Guinea to work or do business as an employed or self-employed worker must obtain a work permit.

What are the consequences?

The Order cancels all existing work permits and requires businesses to resubmit an application for a work permit. Businesses have been granted a 45-day grace period (which will not be extended) to obtain new work permits for its expatriate employees under the new rules.

The Order provides for the following types of work permits:

Application Process
  • Applicants must submit a formal letter addressed to the General Director of Labour enclosing an application form and other required documents.
  • Once the complete application is received, within 7 days, the application should be given to the General Directorate of Labour for the General Director to decide on the merits of the application and hand down his decision.
Work Permit for Employed Workers

The employer must provide documents proving its business activity and specify the services that will be rendered by the foreign worker.

When the job position requires a specific qualification, the foreign employee must provide the same.

Work Permit for Self-employed Workers

Self-employed workers must provide documents that proof of their business activity in the country.

Fees

The fees are only payable once the work permit has been approved. Payment must be made to the Public Treasury.

Fees

The fees are only payable once the work permit has been approved. Payment must be made to the Public Treasury.

Administrative Appeals

Appeals may be filed by applicants whose applications have been rejected by the General Director of Labour. Appeals must be filed with the Minister of Labour, Promotion of Employment and Social Security. The Minister’s decision exhausts the administrative appeal process.

Cancelation of Work Permits

Valid and legally granted work permits must be cancelled if:

  • The work permit holder has had his/her residence card application rejected by the competent body;
  • The work permit holder changes employer.
Invalid Work Permits

The following work permits will be considered invalid:

  • Those granted by incompetent bodies; and
  • Those granted outside the procedure established by law.
Invalid Employment Contracts

All employment contracts entered into with a foreigner without a valid work permit or with an invalid work permit will be null and void.

Infringements and Sanctions
  • Any entrepreneur who contracts a foreign worker without a valid work permit will be sanctioned in accordance with the applicable law.
  • Foreign self-employed workers that carry out business activities without a work permit will be sanctioned in accordance with the applicable law.
  • The forgery of work permits or of documents submitted with a work permit application will result will be notified to the Attorney General with the applicant’s file enclosed. In addition, the documents will be null and void.

Businesses that may be affected ought to contact their external advisors promptly to request a copy of the Order and seek further advice with regards to its ramifications and implement measures to ensure compliance.

Does my company need to take any action?

Businesses that may be affected ought to contact their external advisors promptly to request a copy of the Order and seek further advice with regards to its ramifications and implement measures to ensure compliance. As a minimum, businesses ought to consider the below measures:

Inform Stakeholders

The HR department ought to perform an assessment of the affected expatriate personnel and their families, if applicable, and inform them about the new rules and their ramifications.

Internal Assessment

Conduct an internal assessment to ascertain the type of work permit applicable to each expatriate employee.

Prepare and Submit Applications

Request and compile the required information and documents from the expatriate employees, draft the application letter and complete the application form. Then proceed to submit the applications to the Ministry enclosing all pertinent documents.

Application and Appeals

Follow up on the progress of the application. Should the work permit application be rejected by the General Director of Labour, we recommend that you evaluate the grounds for rejection and consider filing an appeal in consultation with your external advisors.

Your Visa & Immigration Policy

Review and amend your business’ internal visa and immigration policy to reflect the changes implemented by the Order.

It is crucial that full compliance is ensured as the Ministry has recently issued Ministerial Order 2/2018 regulating the procedure for labour inspections. Therefore, it is likely that – after the 45 days grace period granted by the Ministry have passed – the Ministry will start conducting inspections to establish the level of compliance with the Order and with other labour rules.

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