Labour issues stricter compliance checks on work permits

The Department of Labour says “it will tighten up compliance procedures, maintain strict conditions and measures on the issuance of work permits, whether it be for request of first issuance or renewals of work permits.”
The Department has been “noticing in the past and currently that most companies have not been complying with the checklist process of requesting a new or renewal of work permit when it comes to identifying a local counterpart with a training plan.”
The Labour Department on the other hand “takes into account the technicality of a few positions in which a company is required to engage the service of a foreigner for a long period of time.”
Though few positions are technical, the department is of the view that “companies and business houses should take the lead to provide a training plan to the most suitable local counterpart for a certain period of time in order for the local counterpart to take over the position after the expiry or end of contract of the foreigner/expat.”
The Department of Internal Affairs says “some companies have taken the liberty to re-engage the services of a foreign/expat employee in a position that can suit a Ni-Vanuatu, without providing any local counterpart with a training plan and this has been an ongoing practice and the Department of Labour under the Ministry of Internal affairs will no longer entertain such practice.”
As a result, the Department of Labour is issuing the following directives and measures to be imposed, applied and is effective from 1st November 2018:
The Department of Labour and Employment Services will only allow a foreigner/expat to occupy any local positions for up to 3 years. In the application of work permits, companies are required to submit and provide the names of a local counterpart with a training plan attached to the form and submit to the Department for further consideration and endorsement. However, only on exceptional circumstances exclusively for highly technical jobs, the conditions of the work permit and the term of the employment will be prescribed and approved under the discretion of the Commissioner of Labour.
ALL foreigners/expats who have been occupying any positions locally for more than 3 years and have not trained a local counterpart, and those that came in to occupy a different post and have changed positions yet have continued to reside and changed places of work and positions will have their work permits terminated at the expiry dates of their work permits starting from 01st of November 2018.
In case where a foreigner/expat continue to occupy a position given that the status of his/her work permits has already expired, the Department of Labour will NOT renew the request of work permits and the individual concerned has to leave the country. If he/she intend to apply for a position in Vanuatu, he/she must leave the country, send in his/her application and wait for the approval before he/she can enter the country. This will mean that his/her residence visas will also expire at the expiry of his/her work permits.
The Department of Labour will not approve or renew any work permit on the failure of a company to comply with the requirements provided under the Work Permit Act and the checklist process of the Department.
The Department of Labour will closely monitor those issues through its compliance checks.
It is advisable for all Business houses and companies in Vanuatu to observe very closely the requirements and criteria of issuance of work permits under the Work Permit Act and Regulation.
Failure for any Business house to comply with the requirements of issuance of work permits under the Act or regulation will result in the Department of Labour imposing a strict penalty notice.
Should you wish further clarification or queries on this matter please do not hesitate to contact the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the Department of Labour.