If you are planning to work in Tunisia, here is what you need to know about its labor market and on the employment of foreign nationals.
The employment of foreign nationals generally differs from one country to another. In Tunisia, it is subject to specific conditions and formalities. So if you intend to work in the country, make sure to inquire on its labor market's requirements and on relating regulations beforehand.
For instance, the Tunisian Labor Code provides the same rights to local and foreign employees in terms of:
- protection against discrimination
- against forced labor and harassment
- the minimum legal working age
- prevention against occupational accidents and diseases
- professional training.
Rights and obligations
As mentioned above, foreign employees are entitled to the same rights as locals. Therefore, they are compelled to the same obligations are local employees as per Article 263 of the Labor Code. Therefore, employers have to take all necessary measures so as to protect their employees and prevent any professional risks.
Employees, for their part, have to abide to regulations pertaining to health and security at work. They also have to undergo medical examinations as required by the Labor Code. Moreover, all companies having more than 500 employes must have an occupational health service. Companies with less than 500 employees, for their part, must adhere to an occupational health service or set up a self service health service.
However, there are a few main national laws and regulations regarding the conditions for the employment of foreign nationals:
- The Tunisian Constitution
- Law No. 68-7 of 28 March 1968 on the foreigners working conditions in Tunisia
- Decree No. 1968-198 regulating the entry and stay of foreigners in Tunisia
- Labor Code as amended by Law 96-62 of 15 July 1996.
As provided by Act 93-120 of Article 18, fully export companies can each hire a maximum of four foreign executive and coaching officers. Beyond this limit, companies must be in accordance with a recruitment program, as well as what is known as “Tunisification” as approved by the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment.
Thus, a foreign employee hired in accordance with Article 18 of Law 93-120 is entitled to the following:
- income tax at a fixed rate of 20% of the gross salary
- exemption from customs duties and equivalent duties, as well as taxes on imports of personal belongings and tourism car for each person.
Specific employment conditions
Foreign employees wishing to work in Tunisia must be in possession of an employment contract and a resident card with mention “autorisé à exercer un travail salarié en Tunisie”, that is an authorization to work in Tunisia.
The employment contract signed by a non-established and resident foreign nationals in Tunisia with Tunisian company is does not exceed one year. Moreover, the contract is renewable only once upon the approval of the Secretary of State for Youth, Sports and Social Affairs. Note that the contract can be renewed more than once if the company is undertaking development projects that have been approved by local authorities. Both the contract and its renewal have to be approved by the Ministry of Employment.
Note that the recruitment of foreign nationals is possible only if the required expertise is not available locally. Moreover, the employee's position has to be mentioned in the employment contract.
The employment of non established and residents in Tunisia is hence governed by provisions regulating the entry, residence and employment of foreigners in Tunisia. Article 8 of the constitution guarantees the right of association. Thus, a foreign employee can join a union upon the approval of the Secretary of State for Youth, Sports and Social Affairs.
Workers are recruited either via public recruitment offices or directly by employers. Private recruitment agencies, whether paid or free of charge, have been suppressed according to Articles 280 and 285 of the Labor Code). However, you can still find a few employment agencies that are accredited by Tunisian authorities.
The State can introduce special regimes regarding the employment of foreign nationals whether throughout the country or in part of it. The same may apply to some professions and activities or part or a company's activities. However, these policies apply to some specific sectors. The State can thus forecast the percentage of foreign workers.
A foreign worker cannot be debauched by another employer before his current contract's expiry date. However, he can sign a new employment contract provided he can justify that his previous contract has been terminated either by mutual consent or by legal action. The employment contract visa is then subject to a stamp duty which is the employer's responsibility. The amount is fixed by decree.
Foreign workers born in Tunisia and living in the country uninterruptedly are exempted from the employment contract obligation. However, they must hold a resident permit with mention “autorisé à occuper un emploi salarié en Tunisie”, that is an authorization to work in the country.
The foreign worker must be in possession of a work contract as per Tunisian laws. The contract generally has a maximum of one year's validity and can be renewed for a similar period. Note that all contracts and renewals must be approved by the Secretary of State for Youth, Sports and Social Affairs.
Once the foreign worker has joined his new place of work, he is required to request for a resident permit at the nearest police or national guards station within 48 hours.