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Discover everything you need to know about Kiribati

Hire in Kiribati at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Kiribati

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Overview in Kiribati

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Kiribati, located in the central Pacific Ocean, comprises 33 islands divided into three groups: the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands, and the Phoenix Islands. These low-lying coral atolls are susceptible to rising sea levels, posing significant environmental threats. Tarawa, the capital, is the most populous area. Historically, the islands were settled around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, with later influences from Samoans and Europeans. Kiribati gained independence from British colonial rule in 1979.

The economy is primarily based on subsistence agriculture and fishing, with significant revenue from copra production and fishing licenses. Kiribati faces challenges such as geographic isolation, limited resources, and vulnerability to natural disasters, relying heavily on external aid. The population is over 120,000, with a significant youth demographic and a gender gap in formal employment. Education levels vary, with high primary but low secondary and tertiary enrollment, impacting the skill base of the workforce.

Culturally, communication is indirect, and societal structures emphasize respect for elders. The workplace expects clear directives and values group harmony. Key industries include fisheries, agriculture, and the public sector, with emerging sectors like tourism, seaweed farming, and renewable energy. However, many i-Kiribati seek employment abroad, contributing to a brain drain. Cultural norms heavily influence employment practices, necessitating adaptations in work schedules and management styles.

Taxes in Kiribati

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  • Employer Contributions: In Kiribati, employers must contribute 7.5% of an employee's gross salary to the Kiribati National Provident Fund (KNPF), which is additional to the employee's salary.

  • Employee Contributions: Employees are required to contribute 5% of their gross salary to the KNPF, which is deducted from their paycheck.

  • Withholding Income Tax: Employers in Kiribati are responsible for withholding income tax from employees' salaries using the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) system. The amount withheld is based on income levels and tax tables provided by the Kiribati Taxation Office.

  • Payroll Records and Payslips: Employers must maintain accurate payroll records and provide employees with detailed payslips showing gross pay, deductions, and net pay.

  • Annual Reconciliation: Employers are required to submit an annual reconciliation report detailing income tax withheld and social security contributions.

  • Tax Considerations: Kiribati does not have a Value Added Tax (VAT) system, but businesses may face other taxes and fees, such as business license fees and government charges.

  • Tax Incentives: Kiribati offers tax incentives for businesses in key sectors, including tax holidays, import duty exemptions, accelerated depreciation allowances, and potential reduced corporate tax rates for businesses with Pioneer Status.

  • Consultation and Application: Businesses should consult with a tax advisor or relevant government agencies for guidance on tax obligations and incentives, and contact the Kiribati Investment Corporation or the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives for incentive applications.

Leave in Kiribati

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Kiribati Employment Leave Entitlements Overview

  • Annual Leave: Employees in Kiribati are entitled to 30 working days of paid annual leave after 12 months of continuous service, as per Section 91 of the Employment and Industrial Relations Code 2015 (EIRC). Leave accrues progressively throughout the year, and employees can start accruing leave before completing the full 12 months.

  • Sick Leave: After six months of employment, employees are eligible for up to 20 working days of paid sick leave annually, requiring a medical certificate as proof (Section 93, EIRC).

  • Compassionate Leave: Employees with at least six months of service are entitled to three days of paid compassionate leave annually for events like death or serious illness in the immediate family, with necessary evidence (Section 94, EIRC).

  • Maternity Leave: Maternity leave entitlements vary by sector, with female employees in shops or offices entitled to at least 42 days (14 days pre-confinement and 28 days post-confinement). Other sectors should refer to the Maternity Benefits Ordinance and Regulations for specific entitlements.

  • Public Holidays: Kiribati observes several public holidays, including New Year's Day, International Women's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Christmas, among others. These are not deducted from the annual leave entitlement.

  • Additional Leave Types: Some employers may offer additional leave types such as study leave or allow negotiations for unpaid leave under certain conditions.

  • Company Policies: Companies may have internal policies that provide more generous leave benefits than the minimum standards set by the EIRC 2015. Employees should consult their employment contracts or company handbooks for detailed information.

Benefits in Kiribati

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In Kiribati, both public and private sector employees receive mandatory benefits, including membership in the Kiribati Provident Fund (KPF), where both the employer and employee contribute 7.5% of the salary bi-weekly. Employees can access these funds under specific conditions such as retirement or unemployment. Public healthcare is free for all citizens, covering a wide range of services from hospitalization to dental care.

Additionally, employers may offer optional benefits to enhance health and wellness, financial security, and work-life balance. These can include private health insurance, life and disability insurance, pension plans, flexible work arrangements, paid time off, childcare assistance, and other perks like meal or transportation allowances and professional development opportunities.

Workmen's Compensation Insurance is mandatory, providing coverage for work-related injuries and illnesses. The World Bank also mandates health insurance for contracted workers in its Kiribati Health Systems Strengthening Project.

For retirement, employees have options like the Universal Old-Age Pension, providing a monthly stipend based on age, and the Kiribati Retirement Benefit Fund (KRBF), a voluntary scheme with contributions from both employers and employees, accessible under certain conditions from age 50. The KRBF also offers loans for members with approved business plans.

Workers Rights in Kiribati

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In Kiribati, the Employment and Industrial Relations Code 2015 (EIRC 2015) governs employment termination, requiring lawful grounds and written notice from both employers and employees, with notice periods typically specified in employment contracts. While severance pay is not universally mandated, it may be provided under certain conditions such as redundancy. Employers must adhere to fair procedures to avoid claims of unfair dismissal and consult with employees prior to termination, especially in redundancy cases.

The EIRC 2015 and the Constitution of Kiribati provide anti-discrimination protections based on various characteristics, although gaps exist for gender identity and HIV status among others. Employers are obligated to foster a discrimination-free workplace, implementing clear policies and handling complaints confidentially.

Work conditions under the EIRC 2015 include standard workweeks around 40 hours, mandated rest periods, and overtime compensation. Although specific ergonomic regulations are lacking, employers must ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Health and safety obligations include risk assessments, safe work practices, and providing necessary resources and training. Employees have rights to a safe workplace and can refuse unsafe work, with the Ministry of Employment and Human Resources Development enforcing regulations through inspections and potential prosecutions for non-compliance.

Agreements in Kiribati

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In Kiribati, the Employment and Industrial Relations Code 2015 (EIRC 2015) sets the legal framework for various types of employment agreements, including Contracts of Employment, Fixed-Term Contracts, and Collective Agreements. These agreements define the rights and obligations of both employers and employees, covering aspects such as job duties, remuneration, working hours, leave entitlements, and termination procedures. The EIRC 2015 requires that Contracts of Employment be written and signed, ensuring that employees understand their contents before signing. Collective Agreements, negotiated between trade unions and employers, set employment terms for groups of employees and can address wages, working conditions, and safety standards.

Additionally, while the EIRC 2015 does not mandate probationary periods, employers in Kiribati may include such periods in their Contracts of Employment. The National Conditions of Service recognizes probation for government employees, suggesting its acceptance. Employers are advised to clearly define probation terms and ensure they are reasonable and fair.

The EIRC 2015 does not explicitly regulate confidentiality and non-compete clauses. However, confidentiality clauses may be enforceable under common law principles if they protect genuinely confidential information. Non-compete clauses, which could restrict an employee's future employment opportunities, might be considered unreasonable restraints of trade and thus unenforceable. Employers are recommended to define confidential information clearly, limit the duration and scope of non-compete clauses, and seek legal advice to ensure compliance with local laws.

Remote Work in Kiribati

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In Kiribati, while there are no specific laws regulating remote work, the Labour Code Act 2019 applies to all workers including those working remotely. Clear employment contracts are essential for defining remote work arrangements, including work hours, communication expectations, and performance evaluation methods. The country faces challenges with internet connectivity, which is crucial for remote work, due to limited and costly internet services. Employers are encouraged to provide necessary equipment and internet stipends, and to develop formal remote work policies that cover various aspects such as data security, communication protocols, and employee well-being. Flexitime and job sharing are not specifically regulated but can be arranged through employment contracts. Data protection is also a significant concern, with employers responsible for implementing security measures and employees having rights regarding their personal data. Best practices for secure remote work include maintaining separate work and personal devices and using secure communication channels.

Working Hours in Kiribati

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In Kiribati, the Employment and Industrial Relations Code (EIRC) 2015, particularly Section 83, sets the standard workweek at 40 hours over five days. Employers may require additional hours, which must be reasonable and consider employee health and personal circumstances. Different sectors like agriculture and fisheries might have varying work patterns.

Overtime work must be compensated at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate, and employees can request overtime or refuse it. Alternatively, overtime can be compensated with time off in lieu (TOIL), which must be used within six months.

The EIRC mandates daily rest of 12 consecutive hours, a weekly rest of 48 consecutive hours, and meal or tea breaks after six hours of work. However, there is some inconsistency in sources regarding the exact duration of meal breaks.

Night shifts and weekend work are acknowledged but not specifically regulated under the EIRC, with practices varying by sector. Night shift allowances are mentioned in the Kiribati National Conditions of Service 2012 for government employees, but amounts are not specified. Weekend work does not have a special overtime rate but follows the general overtime compensation.

Overall, while the EIRC outlines basic labor standards, specific details, especially for night and weekend work, may depend on sector-specific agreements or practices.

Salary in Kiribati

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  • Factors Influencing Salaries: Salaries are determined by job title, responsibilities, education, experience, location, and scarcity of skills. Higher positions and specialized skills generally command higher salaries.

  • Location Impact: In Kiribati, salaries may vary with location, with higher wages typically offered in the capital, Tarawa, compared to more remote areas.

  • Researching Salaries: Salary data can be sourced from global surveys by firms like Kroll Towers Watson, reports from the World Bank and ILO, and job boards.

  • Minimum Wage in Kiribati: There are two minimum wage rates: A$1.30 per hour for local business employees and A$3.00 per hour for those on overseas-funded projects, effective since November 1, 2016.

  • Employee Benefits: In addition to statutory minimum wages, employers may offer performance bonuses, profit-sharing, housing, transportation, and meal allowances, along with health and educational benefits to enhance employee well-being.

  • Legislative Framework: The Labour Act 2003 governs employment and payroll, detailing rights, payroll procedures, and requiring employers to provide payslips. Payroll practices include regular payment intervals and electronic or cash payments, with deductions for taxes and social security.

Termination in Kiribati

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Kiribati Employment and Industrial Relations Code 2015 (EIRC 2015) Guidelines

  • Notice Periods for Termination:

    • Up to 2 years of service: Minimum of two weeks' written notice.
    • More than 2 years of service: Minimum of four weeks' written notice.
    • Notice must be in writing and allow time for finding new employment.
  • Severance Pay Eligibility:

    • Applicable to employees terminated due to genuine redundancy.
    • Requires at least one year of continuous service.
  • Calculation of Severance Pay:

    • Based on the number of years of service and the employee's basic wage at termination.
    • Detailed formula provided in Section 100 of the EIRC 2015.
  • Termination Procedures:

    • Disciplinary Procedures: Require investigation, opportunity for the employee to respond, record-keeping, and potentially an appeal process.
    • Redundancy Procedures: Require consultation with employees, exploration of redeployment, and fair selection criteria.
  • General Information:

    • Contracts may specify longer notice periods.
    • Severance pay and notice provisions are minimum standards; more generous terms may be negotiated.
    • For current regulations, consult the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.

Freelancing in Kiribati

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In Kiribati, the distinction between employees and independent contractors is influenced by common law principles, focusing on control, integration, and payment structure. Employees are under significant employer control and integrated into the company, receiving regular salaries with tax deductions. Independent contractors have more autonomy, minimal company integration, and handle their own taxes and social security contributions. Misclassification can lead to legal and financial penalties.

For freelancers in Kiribati, it's recommended to use detailed written contracts specifying work scope, payment terms, and confidentiality. Negotiation skills are crucial, and building trust within the collectivist culture is important. Potential freelance industries include translation, tourism, and remote tech work, though opportunities may be limited due to the developing economy and restricted internet access.

Freelancers should be aware of tax obligations, possibly needing to consult with tax advisors. Work permits might be required for foreign freelancers. Intellectual property rights, including copyright and trademarks, should be clearly defined in contracts to protect the freelancer's work. Additionally, including non-disclosure agreements can safeguard confidential information.

Insurance, such as professional indemnity and general liability, is advisable to mitigate risks associated with freelance work. Understanding and managing these aspects are essential for freelancers operating in Kiribati.

Health & Safety in Kiribati

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  • Legislation: Kiribati's primary health and safety law is the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2015, enhanced by a 2018 amendment and various regulations.
  • Employer Responsibilities: Employers must ensure safe work environments, manage hazardous substances, provide PPE, and offer training and supervision to uphold safety.
  • Employee Responsibilities: Employees are expected to use safety equipment properly, follow safety instructions, and report hazards or injuries.
  • Enforcement: The OSH Unit within the Ministry of Employment and Human Resources Development oversees compliance, with inspectors authorized to enter workplaces, conduct inspections, and enforce safety standards through notices and investigations.
  • Workplace Safety Practices: Risk assessments, hazard management, and safety training are crucial. Employers must also manage specific hazards like chemical handling and machinery safety.
  • Inspections: Inspectors have extensive powers to ensure compliance, including unannounced visits and the ability to issue corrective notices.
  • Penalties: Non-compliance can lead to fines or imprisonment, especially for severe violations.
  • Reporting and Investigation: Employers must report serious incidents like fatalities and major injuries promptly and conduct thorough investigations to prevent recurrence.
  • Compensation: Injured employees are entitled to compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and disability, with mechanisms in place for dispute resolution.

Dispute Resolution in Kiribati

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Kiribati, a small island nation, has a developing legal system which may not have a formalized structure for labor courts and arbitration panels, often relying on informal or traditional community mechanisms for resolving labor disputes. Information on labor dispute resolution can potentially be found on websites of Kiribati's Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Justice, the International Labor Organization, or the Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute. These sources might provide insights into the jurisdiction, types of disputes handled, and the processes involved in labor courts or arbitration panels in Kiribati.

Additionally, compliance audits and inspections in Kiribati are conducted by various government agencies and industry-specific regulators, focusing on areas like environmental regulations, workplace safety, and financial regulations. Non-compliance can lead to significant penalties, including fines, license revocation, and legal action.

Whistleblower protections in Kiribati appear limited, with potential risks of retaliation and a lack of robust legal safeguards. Some protection might exist under employment laws or sector-specific regulations, but these are not comprehensive. Recommendations for potential whistleblowers include seeking support from NGOs and referencing international standards like the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Kiribati has ratified several core International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, which theoretically obligate the country to align its domestic labor laws with international standards, including prohibiting forced labor, protecting workers' rights, and ensuring non-discrimination and equal pay. However, challenges such as implementation gaps and enforcement capacity may hinder the full realization of these standards.

Cultural Considerations in Kiribati

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  • Indirect Communication: In Kiribati workplaces, communication tends to be indirect to maintain harmony. People often avoid direct refusals, using phrases like "Maybe later" instead. Trust and rapport are prerequisites for more open communication.

  • Formality and Hierarchy: There is a strong respect for hierarchy, with formal communication prevalent, especially when interacting with superiors. Familiarity can reduce formality over time.

  • Non-Verbal Cues: Non-verbal communication is significant, with eye contact, open postures, and nodding being important. Silence is used for reflection and not necessarily as a sign of disagreement.

  • Cultural Considerations: The concept of "Mana" influences respect and deference towards elders and those in higher positions.

  • Business Practices: Meetings often focus on relationship building initially, with a collective approach to decision-making. Patience is essential, and introductions and social pleasantries are important.

  • Negotiation Approaches: Negotiations are relationship-oriented and indirect. Understanding non-verbal cues and allowing time for thorough discussions are crucial.

  • Strategies in Negotiations: Strategies include concessional bargaining and gift-giving, with a focus on collective decision-making. Pressuring for immediate decisions is discouraged.

  • Cultural Norms in Business: Respect for age and social status is important. Nonverbal communication and storytelling are key, with a focus on consensus-building.

  • Hierarchical Structures: Kiribati businesses often have tall hierarchies or are family-owned, with centralized decision-making and limited employee participation.

  • Impact on Team Dynamics and Leadership: There is a strong respect for authority, with a collective orientation. Leadership styles may be authoritative but can also be transformational.

  • Management Theory: According to Hofstede's Framework, Kiribati has a high Power Distance. Fiedler's Contingency Theory suggests that task-oriented leadership might be effective initially, but transformational leadership could enhance long-term engagement.

  • Statutory Holidays: Key public holidays like New Year's Day, Independence Day, and Christmas Day significantly affect business operations, with most businesses closed or operating minimally.

Understanding these aspects of communication, negotiation, business practices, and cultural norms is essential for effective operation and collaboration in Kiribati workplaces.

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