Labor Regulations and Work Permits
Somaliland workers enjoy many rights and benefits that have been mandated under the Labor Law.
Pre-Employment & Early-Employment Requirements
The Labor Law provides guidance to employers seeking to recruit employees: It requires that open positions be advertised for two weeks in the local media. Employers seeking to hire employees must form an employment review committee comprised of a minimum of three people – two from the enterprise and one from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. This committee should review each of the applications as well as any oral or written examinations required by the enterprise. At least two of the members of the committee need to agree on the person(s) to be hired for the position(s) and sign a declaration as such. The Labor Law has a strict antidiscrimination requirement. New investors can learn more about this hiring procedure and contact the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs here: http://molsa-slgov.org
The Labor Law allows employers to provide their employees with contract rights. Employment contracts are able to layer on additional rights and benefits for their employees which do not meet the required baseline standards of the Labor Law. Employment contracts are also used routinely to clarify and standardize rights which may not have a fully developed regulatory system overseeing that particular right.
Determination of the Employment Relationship
Somaliland is currently developing its methodology and case law that will provide more clarity as to whether an individual is a contractor – and therefore the relationship will be contractually regulated – or whether an individual is an employee – and therefore the relationship will be regulated by both the terms of the contract and the Labor Law.
Discipline and Termination
Both the Ministry of Labor and Labor Law encourage employers to establish a department where employees are able to bring grievances to an appropriate authority within the enterprise, which will both increase morale within the enterprise’s workforce and will also work to reduce litigation risk for the enterprise.
The Labor Law provides employers with a fairly significant level of discretion for disciplining employees. The two most often utilized discipline methods are docking pay and suspension of the employment contract. Disciplinary action proceedings against employees should be properly documented. Warning letters and show cause notices should be given to employees within seven (7) days of the misconduct, and a copy of such document must also be given to the Ministry of Labor so that the Ministry can provide oversight of the discipline, if needed. Where the employer seeks to suspend the employment relationship, the following:
- Conditions must be met in order to properly sever the relationship.
- Suspensions, as with any warnings or other disciplinary measures, must be notified to the Ministry of Labor.
- It should be noted that the employer has an opportunity to present their case for suspension to the Ministry of Labor, rather than taking the decision within the enterprise.
- The Ministry has the ability to give a suspension of up to 90 days.
- The Labor Law allows for immediate dismissal with cause for gross violations of workplace rules, as well as a six week notice for other dismissals. The allowable reasons for immediate dismissal must be either contained within the Labor Law or within the contract with the employee.
Immigration and Residence Permits
Immigration requirements in Somaliland are easily fulfilled. Single entry visas in the business classification may be applied for at either the Somaliland missions abroad or at any port of entry. Two passport photos, a letter of invitation from the sponsoring organization (if any) or the business contacts of the applicant, a standard form and the filing fee are what is required to attain a single-entry visa. Applicants should also be prepared to show evidence of sufficient funds for a visit and a continuing or return ticket. Visa forms and current information may be found at the Somaliland Immigration Department’s web site: (http://slimmigration.zzl.org/Visa.html).
Multiple entry visas are available for investors as well. Multiple entry visas generally must fulfill the same requirements as single entry visas, although multiple forms are required to be attained for investors who wish to visit the country more regularly. Multiple entry visas may not be granted from outside of Somaliland. A form for multiple entry visa must be procured from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, another from the Ministry of Labor, and a third one from the Ministry of Interior, in addition to the form from the Immigration Office. The current filing (as of this drafting) fee for multiple entry visas is $500 for a one year permit.
The Somaliland immigration authorities are in the process of establishing the regulatory system that will support a residency permit. However, at this time longer term multiple entry visas are available if the investor so desires.