What is the change? Zambia has revised its Employment Permit application policies, including rules on where to submit applications, compliance with  Zambianization policies and documentation requirements.

What does the change mean? The changes are largely aimed at ensuring that jobs Zambian nationals can fill are filled locally, which may make recruiting foreign workers more difficult. Foreign workers are likely to receive Employment Permits with shorter validity periods and companies will be expected to help train local workers. Authorities have also increased documentation requirements and have indicated they will conduct more frequent audits.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing. The changes were implemented May 26.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment Permits.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals seeking work in Zambia for six months or longer.
  • Impact on processing times: New processes for determining how long foreign workers will be permitted to remain in Zambia with work authorization could slow processing times.
  • Business impact: The changes could make recruiting and retaining foreign workers more difficult and time consuming.

Background: The Zambian government recently announced new guidelines for employment permits. The changes will affect the following areas:

  • Submission of applications. Applications must be submitted directly to the Department of Immigration Headquarters in Lusaka. Foreign nationals seeking work in Zambia must be outside the country when the application is submitted. Companies relying on third parties to file applications on their behalf must use only one firm and must provide a letter designating the third party as their representative for each permit application.
  • Zambianization. Employers will be expected to do more to help the government achieve its Zambianization goals. In this regard, employers must state how long the foreign nationals they are recruiting will be in their job and the Department of Immigration will make final rulings on the maximum allowable time periods. The department will work closely with relevant professional bodies when determining maximum time periods, and the professional bodies will have to answer how long it would take for a local worker to be trained to obtain the skills necessary for the job the foreign worker is filling. Employers will be required to provide names of local employees who are in training to eventually take jobs filled by foreign workers.
  • Employment Permit validity. Validity periods for employment permits will no longer be two years; instead they will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Among factors that will be considered are: company size, stage of development and level of investment in Zambia.
  • Labor audits. Authorities will conduct quarterly audits to provide the government with up-to-date information on the number of local and foreign workers companies are employing at any given time.
  • Subcontracting. Companies that subcontract with a foreign company must provide information about the foreign company’s organizational structure to both immigration and labor authorities.
  • Required documents. Employment Permit applications will require extensive documentation, including a completed application form; letter saying how long the employee will be working in the country; employment contract; police clearance certificate; registration with relevant professional body (if applicable); certification of academic and vocational qualifications; a copy of marriage and birth certificates (if available); passport information; two passport photos; relevant corporate documents, including a certificate of share capital and a list of directors; copy of employer’s succession plan; the certificate of incorporation; and copies of press advertisements demonstrating compliance with labor market testing requirements. Mining, construction and engineering companies must provide an additional letter with information about the project on which the foreign employee will be working, the value of the project and a copy of the letter of award, including specifications on a completion date.

BAL Analysis: Employers should take note of the changes and make sure they are in compliance with the new rules. The Zambian government seems particularly interested in limiting foreign nationals’ work in Zambia in jobs for which local employees are qualified or for which they can be trained. Employers should prepare for a more difficult and time-consuming process when recruiting foreign workers.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.
Copyright © 2017 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact