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Discover everything you need to know about Cuba

Hire in Cuba at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Cuba

Cuban Convertible Peso
GDP growth
GDP world share
Payroll frequency
Working hours
40 hours/week

Overview in Cuba

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Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, located near Florida, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Haiti, and Jamaica. It covers 109,884 square kilometers and features a diverse landscape with three-quarters being agricultural plains and the Sierra Maestra mountains as the highest range. The coastline spans over 5,700 kilometers, offering beautiful beaches and coral reefs, with popular tourist spots like Varadero Beach and the Jardines de la Reina archipelago.

Historically, Cuba was inhabited by indigenous groups until Christopher Columbus claimed it for Spain in 1492. After several wars of independence in the 19th century and a brief period of U.S. influence, Cuba underwent a socialist revolution in 1959 led by Fidel Castro. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s severely impacted its economy, leading to reforms and a partial normalization of relations with the U.S. under Obama, though tensions rose again during the Trump administration.

Cuba operates as a single-party socialist republic with a centrally planned economy, focusing on industries like sugar, tobacco, tourism, and biotechnology. Despite economic challenges, Cuba has high literacy rates and significant achievements in healthcare and education. The workforce is aging, with a median age of 42, and while the service sector is the largest employer, agriculture remains significant.

Cuban workplaces prioritize flexible schedules and value leisure, with a cultural emphasis on collectivism and family. Communication styles involve building strong relationships and avoiding direct criticism, while organizational hierarchies respect seniority and centralized decision-making. The tourism industry is vital, supported by emerging sectors in technology and renewable energy, though challenges persist due to aging infrastructure and the U.S. embargo.

Taxes in Cuba

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  • Employer Registration: All employers in Cuba must register with the National Tax Administration (ONAT), providing necessary business and employee details.

  • Social Security Contributions: Employers contribute 12.5% for public sector and 14.5% for private sector employees. Employees contribute between 1% and 5%, funding benefits like pensions and healthcare.

  • Income Tax: Employers withhold income tax based on a progressive scale and file monthly returns with ONAT. Employees might need to file an annual return.

  • Other Taxes: Employers may face sales tax and additional payroll taxes. Businesses should consult tax advisors for specific obligations.

  • Tax on Services: Businesses may encounter sales tax and turnover taxes, with requirements to include tax identification on invoices and calculate applicable taxes.

  • Tax Incentives: Joint ventures enjoy reduced corporate tax rates and profit tax exemptions. The Mariel Special Economic Development Zone offers extended tax benefits, including a 10-year profit tax exemption and reduced corporate tax rates post-exemption.

  • Professional Guidance: Consulting with tax advisors is recommended to navigate Cuba's unique tax system and maximize benefits from available tax incentives.

Leave in Cuba

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In Cuba, workers are entitled to 30 calendar days of paid annual leave after one year of continuous service, as stipulated by Article 101 of the Labor Code. This leave accrues over time and cannot be taken all at once at the start of employment. The scheduling of the leave is typically agreed upon between the employer and the employee, and during this period, employees receive their regular wages.

Key Provisions

  • Entitlement: 30 calendar days of paid annual leave after one year of service.
  • Accrual: Leave accrues over time.
  • Scheduling: Agreed upon between employer and employee.
  • Compensation: Regular wages during leave.

Additional Considerations

  • Collective Agreements: May provide enhanced leave benefits.
  • Record Keeping: Employers must maintain accurate leave records.

National Holidays

  • Triumph of the Revolution (January 1st)
  • Liberation Day (January 2nd)
  • Labor Day (May 1st)
  • Rebellion Day (July 26th)
  • Independence Day (October 10th)
  • Christmas Day (December 25th)
  • Martyrs' Day (December 7th)

Other Types of Leave

  • Sick Leave: Paid, requires a medical certificate.
  • Maternity Leave: Paid, with subsidies through social security.
  • Educational Leave: For employees in authorized programs.

For accurate and up-to-date information on labor laws, consulting the Cuban Ministry of Labor or a legal professional specializing in Cuban labor law is recommended.

Benefits in Cuba

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In Cuba, employers must provide a range of mandatory benefits as part of the social safety net. These include:

  • Social Security: All employees are enrolled in the social security system, which provides pensions, free public healthcare, and paid maternity leave.
  • Paid Leave: Employees are entitled to annual leave (typically 30 working days) and sick leave, with specifics depending on factors like seniority and illness severity.
  • Workplace Safety and Profit Sharing: Employers must ensure a safe working environment and may share profits in state-owned enterprises.

Additional benefits might include performance-based bonuses, transportation allowances, professional development opportunities, and subsidized meals. However, due to Cuba's economic system, there are limitations in the availability of certain goods, services, and optional benefits. The healthcare system is universal and free, covering a wide range of services, though it may face resource limitations and wait times. The public pension system provides financial stability for retirees, though it typically replaces a lower percentage of pre-retirement income compared to other countries. Optional private health insurance is scarce and generally aimed at foreign visitors.

Workers Rights in Cuba

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In Cuba, employment termination is governed by strict laws that require valid grounds and due process, contrasting sharply with "at-will" termination practices seen in some other countries. The Cuban Labor Code specifies lawful dismissal reasons including loss of suitability, relocation, contract expiration, and severe misconduct. Employers must adhere to notice requirements—30 days for indefinite contracts and 15 days for temporary ones. Severance pay is mandated under certain conditions, though it may be forfeited in cases of severe misconduct.

Cuban labor laws also emphasize strong worker protections and anti-discrimination measures. Discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, and other factors is prohibited, with various mechanisms in place for redress including labor tribunals and the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). Employers are obligated to prevent discrimination and ensure a respectful workplace.

Additionally, the Cuban Labor Code regulates work hours, rest periods, and ergonomic requirements to ensure worker safety and health. The standard workweek is capped at 44 hours, with mandated rest periods and ergonomic considerations in workplace design. Employers are responsible for risk prevention, safety training, providing personal protective equipment, and conducting regular medical checkups.

Enforcement of these regulations involves multiple agencies including the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and the National Center for Hygiene and Work, with support from the Trade Union Confederation of Cuba. Despite a comprehensive legal framework, challenges in enforcement and implementation may still persist.

Agreements in Cuba

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Cuba's employment law recognizes three primary types of employment contracts: Indefinite Term Contracts, Temporary Contracts, and Contracts for the Execution of a Specific Job.

  • Indefinite Term Contracts offer long-term employment without a predefined end date, providing significant job security with a 30-day notice required for termination by the employee.
  • Temporary Contracts are used for specific situations like new job openings or employee replacements, with a set end date. These can convert to indefinite term contracts after the probationary period or continue until the predetermined end date.
  • Contracts for the Execution of a Specific Job are used for completing a specific task or project, ending once the task is completed. These contracts cannot be renewed unlike Temporary contracts.

Both Temporary and Specific Job Contracts require a 15-day notice for termination by the employee. Essential clauses in all contracts should include details on the parties involved, job description, work location, remuneration, termination, and dispute resolution. Confidentiality and, to a lesser extent, non-compete clauses can be included under specific conditions to protect sensitive company information and trade secrets, though non-compete clauses are tightly regulated to ensure they do not unfairly restrict future employment opportunities.

Remote Work in Cuba

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Remote work in Cuba faces several challenges due to the lack of specific regulations and technological infrastructure limitations. The Cuban Labor Code, primarily designed for traditional in-office work, does not explicitly cover remote work but can be applied by analogy. Self-employment could be an option for those working remotely for foreign companies, though tax implications may be complex.

Internet connectivity issues, outdated computer equipment, and frequent power outages further complicate the adoption of remote work. Businesses looking to implement remote work should adapt employment contracts to specify work hours, communication methods, performance metrics, and data security measures. They should also consider compensation adjustments for internet costs or equipment.

Flexitime and job sharing are not directly addressed in Cuban labor laws but could potentially be negotiated through collective bargaining agreements. Employers are not required to provide equipment or reimburse expenses unless agreed upon in employment contracts.

Data security is paramount, with employers advised to minimize data collection, use encryption, and ensure strong access controls. Remote employees should maintain robust password practices and report any data breaches promptly. Overall, both employers and employees must navigate these challenges carefully due to the absence of specific remote work legislation in Cuba.

Working Hours in Cuba

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Cuba's standard workweek is set at 44 hours, typically spread over five days with an 8-hour workday. Exceptions for longer hours exist in sectors like healthcare and education, and deviations must be legally authorized. Overtime is paid at 1.5 times the regular rate or can be compensated with equivalent time off, at the employee's discretion. Daily overtime is limited to 4 hours, with a maximum of 12 working hours per day and an annual overtime cap of 160 hours.

The Labor Code, particularly Law No. 116, Articles 80, 81, and 82, governs these regulations, ensuring rights for breaks and overtime compensation. A minimum 30-minute rest period is mandated for workdays exceeding 6 hours. While additional breaks are common, especially in physically demanding jobs, they are not strictly regulated by law.

Night and weekend work are subject to the same 44-hour standard but require special considerations for worker well-being, such as potential reduced hours for night shifts and mandatory premium pay for weekend work. Employers must obtain trade union authorization and employee consent for weekend work, except in emergencies. These measures aim to protect employees' health and ensure fair compensation.

Salary in Cuba

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In Cuba, the government significantly influences salary structures, operating under a dual currency system with the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). The average state-set monthly wage is approximately 870 CUP (around $30 USD), with variations across different sectors and specializations. For example, marketing managers can earn between 638 and 2,499 CUP. Benefits such as subsidized housing, meals, and access to CUCs are often provided to enhance compensation packages.

The minimum wage was set at 2,100 CUP per month in January 2021, with part-time workers earning proportionally. Wage enforcement and regulations are managed by the Cuban government's labor inspectorate, with specific legal frameworks outlined in Resolution No.27/2006 and the Cuban Labour Code.

Employers in Cuba also offer additional incentives like performance-based bonuses, subsidies for living costs, transportation allowances, and profit-sharing schemes to attract and retain talent. Payment of wages is legally required to be at least monthly, with increasing use of digital transfers for salary distribution. Trade unions play a crucial role in negotiating payment terms and ensuring compliance with labor laws.

Termination in Cuba

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In Cuba, both employers and employees are required to provide a 30-day written notice for terminating indefinite-term employment contracts, as per Decree-Law No. 128/2014. For temporary contracts, a 15-day notice is necessary. The law mandates written communication during the termination process to ensure smooth transitions. Severance pay is limited and generally provided only in cases like organizational changes or completion of military service, calculated based on the employee's basic salary. Notably, voluntary resignation or disciplinary dismissal does not entitle one to severance pay. The Cuban labor system emphasizes reintegration into the workforce through the "devolución" process, where terminated employees are placed back into an employment pool by state-run agencies. Additional rules apply during the probationary period and for companies with foreign investment, although the core principles of labor protection remain consistent.

Freelancing in Cuba

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In Cuba, the distinction between employees and independent contractors is governed by various factors outlined in the Cuban Labor Code. Employees are subject to employer control, integrated into the business, receive fixed salaries, and have social security contributions withheld by their employers. In contrast, independent contractors have more autonomy, are paid per project, and handle their own social security contributions.

Misclassification of these roles can lead to legal and financial repercussions for businesses. Independent contractors in Cuba, though less common than in other countries, operate in sectors like tourism, arts, technology, and transportation. They must navigate specific contract structures, negotiation practices, and be aware of intellectual property rights to protect their work and comply with local laws.

Cuban freelancers face a unique tax regime with progressive rates based on income and have limited insurance options, with only basic pension contributions required and minimal health coverage. Understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial for operating compliantly within Cuba's evolving economic landscape.

Health & Safety in Cuba

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Cuban health and safety laws prioritize worker protection, emphasizing the prevention of occupational hazards and diseases and promoting safe work environments. The Labor Code (Law No. 116) serves as the primary legal framework, supplemented by Resolution 39/2007, which provides detailed guidelines for workplace safety and health programs. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS) oversees the enforcement of these regulations, supported by the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) and the National Institute of Occupational Health (INSOH).

Employers are required to conduct risk assessments, develop Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Manuals, and implement necessary preventive measures, including providing personal protective equipment (PPE). Workers have rights to refuse unsafe work, participate in safety programs, and access information about workplace hazards without discrimination.

Enforcement is carried out through regular inspections by the MTSS, focusing on a range of hazards and compliance with safety standards. Inspections can be scheduled or unannounced, with employers mandated to correct identified violations within set deadlines to avoid fines and other penalties. Additionally, workplace accidents must be reported, and thorough investigations are conducted to prevent recurrence. Workers injured on the job are entitled to medical treatment and compensation, with provisions for disability benefits and survivor benefits in fatal cases.

Dispute Resolution in Cuba

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  • Labor Dispute Resolution in Cuba: The primary mechanism for resolving labor disputes in Cuba involves the Municipal Popular Courts, which address issues like employment contracts, worker rights violations, and wage disputes. If conciliation fails, a formal complaint can be filed and heard by these courts, with the option to appeal to the Provincial Court.

  • Arbitration Panels: Less defined in Cuba, with potential informal roles played by workplace-level committees and trade unions due to the centralized state-controlled economy.

  • Compliance Audits and Inspections: Managed by various entities including the Ministry of Finance and Prices and the Comptroller General of the Republic of Cuba, these audits ensure adherence to laws across financial, tax, operational, environmental, and labor sectors.

  • Whistleblower Protections: Legal protections exist, such as Article 61 of the Cuban Constitution and provisions in the Cuban Labor Code, but practical implementation and enforcement can be challenging.

  • International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions: Cuba has ratified several ILO conventions which have influenced its domestic labor laws, promoting rights like association, collective bargaining, and non-discrimination in employment.

  • Challenges: Despite legal frameworks, there are ongoing issues with the enforcement of labor laws, the role of independent trade unions, and the growing informal economy, which affect the full compliance with international labor standards.

Cultural Considerations in Cuba

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  • Indirect Communication: In Cuban workplaces, indirect communication is preferred, with emphasis on non-verbal cues and context to avoid direct confrontation. Trust-building is essential before true opinions are expressed.

  • Formality: A formal tone is maintained in all forms of communication, including emails and meetings, which is crucial for foreigners to understand when doing business in Cuba.

  • Non-Verbal Cues: Cubans use expressive body language such as hand gestures and facial expressions to communicate, and it's important to interpret these cues correctly to gauge engagement and agreement.

  • Negotiation Approaches: Building strong personal relationships is prioritized in Cuban negotiations, with a focus on collaboration and finding mutually beneficial outcomes.

  • Negotiation Strategies: Indirect language and lengthy discussions are common, requiring patience and a keen ability to read nuanced signals.

  • Cultural Norms in Negotiations: Respect for Cuban pride and achievements is important, as is navigating bureaucratic processes with patience.

  • Hierarchical Structures: Cuban businesses typically have centralized authority with decision-making concentrated at upper levels, impacting the speed and inclusivity of decision processes.

  • Team Dynamics and Leadership: Respect for authority is emphasized, though collaboration within teams is valued. Leadership tends to be directive but relationship-building is key to effective leadership.

  • Statutory Holidays and Observances: Understanding national holidays like the Triumph of the Revolution and International Workers' Day, as well as regional festivals, is important for planning and operations.

  • Additional Considerations: Legal entitlements like paid vacation can affect staffing, requiring careful planning to manage resources effectively during peak times.

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