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Brunei Darussalam

Discover everything you need to know about Brunei Darussalam

Hire in Brunei Darussalam at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Brunei Darussalam

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44 hours/week

Overview in Brunei Darussalam

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Brunei, located on Borneo Island in Southeast Asia, is a wealthy nation with a diverse terrain and a tropical equatorial climate. Historically significant, it was a powerful empire from the 15th to 17th centuries but declined due to internal strife and European colonialism, becoming a British protectorate in 1888 until its independence in 1984. Today, Brunei's economy is heavily reliant on its vast oil and gas reserves, making it one of Southeast Asia's richest countries.

The country is an absolute monarchy, with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah serving as both head of state and government. Brunei's official religion is Islam, and it implements Sharia law alongside a secular legal system. The government plays a major role in the economy, providing extensive welfare programs, and there is no direct income tax for citizens.

Brunei's workforce is well-educated but faces challenges such as an aging population and reliance on foreign workers, particularly in technical and vocational sectors. The public sector is the largest employer, and the oil and gas industry is crucial to the economy. Efforts are underway to diversify the economy through sectors like technology, halal industries, and tourism.

Culturally, Brunei values indirect communication, hierarchical respect, and group consensus. The work culture is influenced by Islamic practices and family values, requiring adjustments in business interactions to accommodate religious and social norms.

Taxes in Brunei Darussalam

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In Brunei Darussalam, employers have various tax obligations including Corporate Income Tax (CIT) at a rate of 18.5%, with the first BND 100,000 taxed at this rate and the next BND 150,000 at half this rate. Employers must also contribute to employee retirement funds, specifically the Tabung Amanah Pekerja (TAP) and the Supplemental Contributory Pension (SCP), at rates of 5% and 3.5% of an employee's basic salary, respectively. These contributions are generally not required for non-permanent resident foreign nationals.

Additional responsibilities may include withholding taxes for non-residents and managing property and customs duties. It's important for employers to stay updated with the Ministry of Finance and Economy for any changes in tax regulations and ensure compliance with filing and payment deadlines.

Brunei does not currently have personal income tax or a Value-Added Tax (VAT), though the potential for introducing VAT in the future exists. Employers should also be aware of various incentives available, such as Pioneer Status and Investment Tax Allowance, which provide tax exemptions and deductions for qualifying investments in specific sectors. These incentives often have strict eligibility criteria and require application and approval from relevant authorities.

Leave in Brunei Darussalam

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In Brunei Darussalam, the Employment Order of 2009 outlines the regulations for vacation leave, termed as annual leave. Employees earn 7 days of paid annual leave for the first year of continuous service, with an additional day added for each subsequent year, up to a maximum of 14 days. Annual leave must be scheduled mutually between the employer and employee and used within 12 months of accruing, or it is forfeited.

Employees with shorter service durations receive pro-rated annual leave. Upon termination, employees are compensated for accrued but unused annual leave. Brunei also observes several national public holidays, including New Year's Day, Chinese New Year, National Day, and various Islamic holidays like Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Aidiladha, among others.

Other types of leave available to employees in Brunei include sick leave, with 14 days paid and up to 60 additional days for hospitalization; maternity leave, offering 15 weeks with varying pay conditions; and rest days, typically on Sundays. Paternity leave is not mandated but may be offered by some employers. Additional leaves like bereavement and religious observance leaves are subject to company policies.

Benefits in Brunei Darussalam

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Brunei Darussalam's labor laws provide a comprehensive range of mandatory employee benefits, ensuring fair compensation and employee well-being. Key benefits include:

  • Paid Leave: Employees are entitled to annual leave, public holidays, sick leave, and maternity leave, with specific durations and conditions based on citizenship and employment duration.
  • Other Mandatory Benefits: These include a probationary period, notice period, overtime pay, and severance pay, with some employers offering a 13th-month bonus.
  • Social Security: Contributions are made to the Tabung Amanah Pekerja (TAP) and Supplementary Contributory Pension (SCP), providing retirement and disability benefits.

Additionally, many employers in Brunei offer optional benefits to enhance employee satisfaction and retention, such as:

  • Health and Life Insurance: Some companies provide health insurance, including coverage for dependents, and group life insurance plans.
  • Allowances and Assistance: Employers may offer housing, transportation, and relocation allowances, along with assistance for visa processing and temporary housing.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements and PTO Banks: These options cater to modern work-life balance needs, allowing for remote work and accumulated paid time off.
  • Educational and Professional Development: Opportunities for tuition reimbursement and professional development are available.
  • Additional Perks: These can include club memberships, gym memberships, wellness programs, and childcare assistance.

While health insurance is not mandatory, many employers provide it voluntarily. The Department of Labour under the Ministry of Home Affairs offers resources on labor regulations, including the Workmen's Compensation Act, which mandates Workmen's Compensation Insurance for all employees.

For retirement, besides the mandatory social security schemes (TAP and SCP), some employers offer private pension plans, which can provide additional retirement income and flexibility. These plans, however, may involve fees and have specific withdrawal limitations.

Workers Rights in Brunei Darussalam

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In Brunei, employment is regulated by the Employment Order 2009 and the Labor Act (Chapter 93), which define lawful dismissal grounds such as gross misconduct, poor performance, redundancy, and contract expiration. Employers must adhere to specified notice periods based on the employee's length of service, ranging from one day to four weeks. Severance pay is conditional, primarily required in cases of redundancy or contract breach.

The legal framework for anti-discrimination is limited, focusing mainly on ethnicity and religion, with no comprehensive protections for other characteristics like gender or sexual orientation. Employers are encouraged to implement non-discrimination policies and training.

Work conditions are governed by regulations that set a maximum of 44 working hours per week, mandate rest periods, and specify overtime pay at 1.5 times the hourly rate. The Workplace Safety and Health Order 2009 outlines employer obligations for maintaining a safe work environment, including risk management and accident reporting. Employees have rights to a safe workplace and can refuse unsafe work.

Overall, while Brunei has structured employment laws and safety regulations, there is a noted need for more comprehensive anti-discrimination laws to enhance inclusivity and fairness in the workplace.

Agreements in Brunei Darussalam

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In Brunei Darussalam, employment agreements are governed by the Employment Order, 2009, and include various types such as the Contract of Service (COS), Fixed-Term Contract, and Part-Time Contract. These contracts outline essential elements like job responsibilities, remuneration, benefits, working hours, leave entitlements, and termination conditions. Specialized contracts exist for managerial or executive roles and collective bargaining agreements through trade unions. Additionally, employment agreements may feature probationary periods to assess employee suitability, with typical durations ranging from 3 to 6 months. The agreements also often contain confidentiality and non-compete clauses, although the enforceability of non-compete clauses is limited due to legal scrutiny in Brunei. Employers might use alternative protective measures like non-solicitation clauses instead.

Remote Work in Brunei Darussalam

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Brunei Darussalam is gradually adapting to remote work, though specific legal frameworks for such arrangements are still under development. Currently, general labor laws like the Employment Order 2009 provide some indirect guidelines. Technological infrastructure, including reliable internet and digital literacy, is crucial for effective remote work implementation. Employers are encouraged to proactively establish internal remote work policies, covering aspects like communication protocols, equipment provision, and health and safety practices.

The government is exploring initiatives to support remote work, reflecting a shift in mindset among local companies towards flexible work arrangements such as part-time work, flexitime, and job sharing. These arrangements are governed by general employment laws, with employers having the flexibility to define specific terms through internal policies.

Additionally, with the rise of remote work, data protection and privacy have become significant concerns. The Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) sets out principles for data processing, imposing obligations on employers and granting rights to employees, such as data access and rectification. Employers must ensure data security through measures like encrypted communication tools, access controls, and employee training on data protection.

Working Hours in Brunei Darussalam

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In Brunei Darussalam, the Employment Act sets strict guidelines on working hours to promote employee well-being and fair labor practices. The Act limits the workday for non-shift workers to eight hours and the workweek to 44 hours over six days or 40 hours over five days. Overtime work, defined as hours worked beyond these limits, must be compensated at a minimum rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly wage, and double pay is required for overtime on rest days or public holidays. Employees can work up to 72 hours of overtime per month, with exceptions possible in emergencies.

The Act also mandates daily breaks and weekly rest days to ensure employee health and productivity. Employees must not work more than six consecutive hours without a break, and they are entitled to a weekly rest day, which can be a Sunday or another day as designated by the employer. For shift workers, a continuous 30-hour rest period can substitute for the weekly rest day.

While specific regulations for night shifts and weekend work are not detailed, the general rule is that employees should not work more than six consecutive hours without a break. Overtime pay must be settled within 14 days after the salary period in which it was earned, and the law protects against misclassification that could deny workers rightful overtime compensation.

Salary in Brunei Darussalam

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Determining competitive salaries in Brunei Darussalam involves considering various factors such as industry, location, skills, and experience. The oil and gas sector, being predominant, offers higher salaries compared to others like retail or hospitality. Resources like the Salary Guideline by The Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) and Paylab.com provide insights into salary ranges. Despite its small size, cost of living variations exist across different districts in Brunei, influencing salary adjustments.

Brunei does not have a legislative minimum wage; instead, wages are set through collective bargaining agreements or market forces. The MPEC provides non-mandatory salary guidelines based on qualifications and experience. Total compensation in Brunei also includes benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and flexible work arrangements, enhancing the overall value of job offers.

Additionally, Brunei offers various bonuses and allowances, such as yearly and holiday bonuses, housing, transportation, and education allowances, which vary by sector and employer. The absence of a national minimum wage is mitigated by a strong social safety net with government subsidies for essential needs. Employers are also responsible for mandatory social security contributions, and taxation on salaries is tiered based on income levels.

Termination in Brunei Darussalam

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In Brunei Darussalam, the Labour Act (Chapter 93) governs employment termination, specifying notice periods, severance payments, and termination procedures:

  • Notice Periods: The employment contract's notice period is prioritized. If unspecified, statutory minimums apply: 1 day for less than 26 weeks of service, 1 week for 26 weeks to 2 years, 2 weeks for 2 to 5 years, and 4 weeks for over 5 years of service. The maximum notice period is capped at one month.

  • Exceptions: Domestic servants must be given a 14-day notice, irrespective of service length.

  • Severance and Redundancy Payments: Severance pay is not universally required unless specified in the contract or collective agreements. Employees terminated due to redundancy with at least one year of service receive redundancy payments calculated based on their service length.

  • Retirement and Gratuity Payments: Retirement benefits depend on employment contracts or collective agreements, potentially involving pension or provident funds. Gratuity payments are contract-specific lump sums paid upon termination after a certain service period.

  • Termination Types and Procedures: Employment can be terminated with notice, without notice for gross misconduct, due to redundancy, or mutually. Termination must be in writing with reasons and effective date specified. Employers may opt for payment in lieu of notice.

  • Unfair Dismissal: Employees can claim unfair dismissal through the Labour Department if termination lacks reasonable grounds.

These regulations are further detailed in the Employment Order 2009, ensuring structured and fair employment termination processes.

Freelancing in Brunei Darussalam

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In Brunei Darussalam, there are clear distinctions between employees and contractors, particularly in terms of contract structures and negotiation practices.

Contract Structures:

  • Employees vs. Contractors: Labor laws treat these two groups differently.
  • Key Elements: Contractors' contracts typically include scope of work, payment terms, confidentiality clauses, and termination procedures.

Negotiation Practices:

  • Market Research: Contractors research standard fees for their skills.
  • Negotiation Strategy: They often start with higher rates and negotiate down.
  • Documentation: All terms are documented in writing.

Common Industries for Contractors:

  • IT, Construction, Creative Services: These sectors frequently utilize contractors.

Intellectual Property (IP):

  • Types of IP: Includes copyrights, trademarks, and patents.
  • Ownership: Generally, creators own the IP unless otherwise agreed in writing.
  • Protection: Registration of IP and confidentiality agreements are recommended.

Tax and Social Security:

  • Income Tax: Self-employed must register and pay taxes on net profits.
  • Social Security: A voluntary scheme is available for retirement benefits.


  • Options: Health and professional indemnity insurance among others are advised for financial security.

Contractors in Brunei must navigate these aspects carefully, ensuring legal compliance and protecting their interests in negotiations and intellectual property rights.

Health & Safety in Brunei Darussalam

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Brunei Darussalam has a robust legal framework to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of workers, primarily governed by the Workplace Safety and Health Order, 2009 and the Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations, 2014. These laws mandate comprehensive safety measures, risk assessments, and the use of personal protective equipment, among other requirements.

Key Provisions and Enforcement

  • Risk Management: Employers must conduct risk assessments and manage workplace hazards.
  • Training and Information: Provision of necessary training and information to employees is required.
  • Worker Participation: Involvement of workers in safety processes is encouraged.
  • Enforcement: The Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health, along with inspectors, ensures compliance through inspections and can issue penalties for non-compliance.

Industry-Specific Practices

  • Oil and Gas: Implements stringent safety measures and regular safety drills.
  • Construction: Adheres to specific regulations like fall protection and scaffolding standards.
  • Healthcare: Follows guidelines on infection control and safe patient handling.

Inspection and Compliance

  • Inspection Process: Includes planning, walkthroughs, and reporting, focusing on compliance with safety regulations and hazard management.
  • Frequency and Criteria: Inspections vary based on risk profiles and past compliance history, focusing on areas like PPE usage and emergency preparedness.

Accident Reporting and Compensation

  • Reporting Requirements: Employers must report serious accidents and dangerous occurrences promptly.
  • Investigation: Conducted by employers and SHENA to identify causes and prevent future incidents.
  • Compensation Claims: Covered under the Employees' Compensation Act for work-related injuries or illnesses, providing necessary medical costs and compensation for lost wages or permanent impairment.

This overview highlights the importance of adhering to and consulting the specific legal texts for detailed and accurate guidance on workplace safety and health in Brunei Darussalam.

Dispute Resolution in Brunei Darussalam

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Brunei's labor dispute resolution system includes Labor Courts and arbitration panels. Labor Courts handle individual disputes such as wage issues and unfair dismissal, starting with conciliation by the Commissioner of Labor and potentially moving to a court hearing if unresolved. Arbitration panels deal with collective disputes involving trade unions or groups of employees, focusing on issues like wage negotiations and union recognition, with proceedings initiated by mutual agreement or government intervention.

Additionally, Brunei conducts compliance audits and inspections to ensure adherence to legal standards across various sectors, with entities like government agencies, internal auditors, and external auditors involved. The frequency and rigor of these audits depend on factors such as legal requirements, risk assessments, and company size.

Whistleblower protections in Brunei are governed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau Act, offering confidentiality and protection from retaliation, with advice for whistleblowers to support their claims with documentation and ensure reports are made in good faith.

On the international front, Brunei has ratified several ILO conventions, reflecting its commitment to international labor standards, though areas like freedom of association, discrimination, and the establishment of a minimum wage could see further improvement. Brunei's ongoing engagement with the ILO aims to enhance its labor laws and practices in alignment with global standards.

Cultural Considerations in Brunei Darussalam

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In Brunei Darussalam, effective communication and business dealings are deeply influenced by cultural norms and values. Key aspects include:

  • Indirect Communication and Harmony: Emphasizing social harmony and respect for hierarchy, Bruneians prefer indirect communication. Direct confrontation is avoided, and non-verbal cues play a significant role in conveying messages.

  • Respectful Demeanor: Formal interactions and the use of titles are crucial. Meetings are structured with senior members speaking first, and active listening is valued.

  • Body Language and Space: Maintaining a comfortable physical distance and controlled gestures are important. Eye contact should be respectful but not prolonged, and smiling is a common and warm greeting.

  • Negotiation Approaches: Negotiations are characterized by patience, persistence, and a focus on consensus. Indirect communication is common, and building trust and rapport is prioritized over immediate business discussions.

  • Cultural Influences on Business Dealings: Respect for hierarchy and Islamic values significantly influence business practices. Non-verbal communication is also crucial in demonstrating respect.

  • The Influence of Hierarchy: Brunei's hierarchical social structure affects decision-making, team dynamics, and leadership styles. A top-down approach in decision-making and paternalistic leadership are prevalent.

  • Statutory Holidays: Understanding Brunei's statutory holidays, such as Hari Raya Puasa and National Day, is essential for planning business activities and respecting cultural observances.

Overall, success in Brunei's business environment requires an understanding of its indirect communication style, hierarchical structures, and the significant role of cultural and religious norms.

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