Virginia, US

May 31 2019

New Occupational Limitations and Local Worker Succession Plan Requirements Introduced for Work Authorization Applications

Zambia

At a Glance

  • Foreign nationals seeking to work in Zambia will be allowed to apply for work authorization only for positions appearing on a new critical skills list, under a recently enacted employment act that takes effect on June 1, 2019.
  • The act also introduces new local worker succession plan requirements, under which employers will have to designate a local understudy for each foreign national employee. They must also create a training program to ensure that skills are transferred from the foreign worker to his or her understudy.
  • Employers will be required to provide details of all foreign nationals to the Labour Commission, which will be maintaining a register of expatriate workers in the country.

The situation

In an attempt to tighten immigration rules and protect the local labor market, the Zambian Government has approved the Employment Code Act No. 3 of 2019, which introduces a number of new policies, including: the creation of a critical skills list, new succession plan requirements, the creation of a Skills Advisory Committee, and other new rules.

The Act takes effect on June 1, 2019; however, implementing regulations for some aspects of the new law, such as on how the critical skills list will be developed, have not yet been released.

A closer look

The Employment Code Act No. 3 of 2019 introduces the following:

  • Critical Skills List. Foreign nationals seeking to work in Zambia will be allowed to apply for work authorization only for positions appearing on an official critical skills list. The Act tasks a Skills Advisory Committee with developing the critical skills list, through a consultation process with relevant stakeholders. The list must be published for public comments before implementation. It is unclear when the Committee will be convened for the first time or when the first version of the list will be published.
    • Impact. Depending on what occupations appear on the critical skills list, this change could result in a significant restriction on the types of jobs foreign workers will be permitted to fill in the future. Employers will need to work with their immigration providers to review the critical skills list before applying for work authorization in Zambia.
  • Succession plan. For all work authorization applications, employers will be required to:
    • Designate a local worker to act as an understudy for each foreign worker;
    • Submit a schedule for a training program that outlines how skills will be transferred from the foreign worker to his or her understudy over a two-year period; and
    • Submit annual reports that provide names and other information about all foreign employees to the Labour Commissioner, which will maintain a register of all foreign national employees.
    • Impact. Employers will need to develop strategies for meeting the new succession plan requirements that include: (1) how to find or identify potential understudies; (2) details of their training programs; and (3) ways to account for the extra time necessary to prepare work authorization applications.
  • New prohibitions. The Act also prohibits the following:
    • Allowing a foreign employee to work in a position that he or she is not authorized to perform;
    • Terminating or laying off a Zambian citizen or resident after or as a result of employing a foreign worker; and
    • Using coercion, threats, or other illegal means to induce a foreign national to work without his or her consent.
    • Impact/potential sanctions. Noncompliance with these new rules can lead to an employer’s arrest and criminal charges. If convicted, an employer could be sentenced to significant fines or imprisonment for a term of up to three years, or both.

 

Background

Zambia has previously considered succession plan requirements and training programs (which are common in Africa), but this is the first time the government has been formally implemented such measures.

Looking ahead

The immigration provisions of the Act indicate that the Zambian government is seeking to restrict rules on foreign labor. While it remains to be seen how restrictive the critical skills list will be, employers should expect new challenges if relying on foreign workers for the skills they need for their business.  

Further information on the critical skills list will be provided when it is available.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to africainfo@fragomen.com.