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Employment Agreement Essentials

Understand the key elements of employment contracts in Botswana

Types of employment agreements

In Botswana, the Employment Act permits several types of employment contracts. These contracts are essential for both employers and employees to understand.

Permanent Employment Contracts

Permanent employment contracts are the most prevalent type of employment arrangement in Botswana. These contracts establish a long-term relationship between the employer and the employee, with no predetermined end date. They typically outline the salary and benefits, working hours, job duties and responsibilities, and termination notice periods required by either party, following the provisions of the Employment Act.

Fixed-Term Employment Contracts

Fixed-term contracts are used for temporary or project-based work and have a predetermined end date explicitly stated in the agreement. The Employment Act doesn't specify a maximum duration for fixed-term contracts within Botswana. However, specific limitations may apply if the contract is made outside Botswana but relates to work performed in the country. These contracts can be renewed upon mutual agreement between the employer and employee, but the total combined duration shouldn't exceed the limitations set for the initial contract. A fixed-term contract can potentially convert to a permanent one if it's renewed multiple times or if the employment continues beyond the fixed term without a formal renewal.

Casual Employment Contracts

Casual employment contracts are used for short-term, irregular work with no guaranteed hours. These agreements typically lack the detailed provisions found in permanent or fixed-term contracts. However, employers should ensure compliance with minimum wage and other relevant labor regulations for casual employees.

Probationary Employment Contracts

Probationary periods are often included within permanent or fixed-term employment contracts. This initial trial period allows both parties to assess suitability for the role. The maximum probationary period in Botswana is generally three months. Shorter probation periods may be used depending on the specific position.

Essential clauses

In Botswana, employment contracts should include certain essential clauses to safeguard both employers and employees.

Parties to the Agreement

The full names and addresses of both the employer and the employee should be included for identification.

Contract Type

The type of employment agreement should be specified, whether it's permanent, fixed-term, casual, or probationary.

Terms of Employment

The official commencement date of employment should be clearly defined. A concise description of the employee's duties and responsibilities should be provided. The primary workplace or if the role requires work from multiple locations should be indicated.

Compensation and Benefits

The base salary amount, payment frequency, and any applicable bonuses or allowances should be outlined. Any benefits offered, such as paid leave, health insurance, or contributions to social security should be detailed. Compliance with Botswana's minimum wage standards should be ensured.

Working Hours and Leave

The regular working hours per week or day, including overtime regulations if applicable, should be specified. The employee's annual leave entitlement and the method for calculating leave accrival should be outlined. Reference to national public holidays and entitlements related to them should be made.


The required notice period for both the employer and employee in case of termination should be defined.

Legislative Reference

The Employment Act (Chapter 47:01) should be referred to.

Additional Clauses (Optional)

A clause protecting confidential company information should be included if applicable to the role. The process for resolving any disagreements arising from the employment agreement should be specified.

Probationary period

Probationary periods are a standard part of employment in Botswana, providing a trial phase for both employers and employees to assess suitability before committing to a long-term employment relationship.

Key Points on Probationary Periods

  • Maximum Duration: The maximum probationary period in Botswana is typically three months. This applies to both permanent and fixed-term employment contracts.
  • Purpose: The probationary period allows employers to evaluate an employee's skills, work ethic, and fit within the company culture. Employees can also use this time to determine if the role aligns with their expectations.
  • Early Termination: During the probationary period, either the employer or the employee can terminate the contract with a shorter notice period compared to a confirmed employee.

Although the Employment Act (Chapter 47:01) doesn't explicitly mention probationary periods, court rulings have established their legality and general parameters.

Additional Notes

Probationary periods are often included within a larger employment contract, whether permanent or fixed-term. The specific terms of the probationary period, such as notice requirements or performance evaluation processes, should be clearly outlined in the employment agreement. It's crucial to ensure a fair and transparent evaluation process during the probationary period. Employers should provide constructive feedback to assist the employee in meeting expectations.

Considerations for Employers

  • Legitimate Purpose: The probationary period should be designed to assess job-related skills and not used for discriminatory purposes.
  • Reasonable Duration: Three months is the generally accepted maximum duration. A shorter period may be sufficient for some positions.
  • Transparency: Clearly communicate the terms and expectations of the probationary period to the employee.

Considerations for Employees

  • Negotiation: While the maximum duration is three months, there may be some room for negotiation during the contract acceptance stage.
  • Evaluation: Understand how your performance will be assessed during the probationary period.
  • Communication: Maintain open communication with your supervisor to address any concerns or questions you may have.

Confidentiality and non compete clauses

In Botswana, employers can include confidentiality and non-compete clauses in employment agreements, but there are certain limitations and considerations.

Confidentiality Clauses

Confidentiality clauses are designed to protect an employer's sensitive business information from unauthorized disclosure by employees. These clauses are particularly relevant for roles that have access to trade secrets, customer data, or proprietary information.

Key Points on Confidentiality Clauses:

  • Permissible Scope: Confidentiality clauses can restrict the disclosure of confidential information during and even after employment. However, the definition of "confidential information" needs to be clear, specific, and reasonable to be enforceable by courts. Broad restrictions may be deemed unfair and unenforceable.
  • Employee Obligations: The clause should outline the employee's obligations regarding maintaining the confidentiality of protected information. This may include restrictions on sharing information with unauthorized individuals or using it for personal gain.

There are no explicit legal provisions regarding confidentiality clauses in Botswana's Employment Act (Chapter 47:01). However, general contractual principles and obligations of good faith apply. Courts will consider the reasonableness of the clause's scope and its adherence to these principles.

Non-Compete Clauses

Non-compete clauses restrict an employee's ability to work for a competitor or pursue similar business activities after leaving the company. These clauses can be helpful in protecting an employer's legitimate business interests, such as safeguarding client relationships or trade secrets.

Key Points on Non-Compete Clauses:

  • Legal Recognition: Non-compete clauses are not explicitly addressed in Botswana's Employment Act. However, court rulings suggest they may be enforceable under certain circumstances.
  • Reasonableness Test: The enforceability of non-compete clauses hinges on the concept of reasonableness. Courts will consider factors such as the:
    • Geographic Scope: The restricted geographic area should be reasonable in relation to the employer's legitimate interests. A nationwide restriction may be excessive in some cases.
    • Duration of Restriction: The time period for which the employee is restricted from competing should be reasonable and not excessively hinder their ability to find new employment.
    • Nature of the Work: The clause's limitations should be proportionate to the employee's role and level of access to confidential information.
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