Rivermate | Marshall Islands flag

Marshall Islands

Discover everything you need to know about Marshall Islands

Hire in Marshall Islands at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Marshall Islands

United States Dollar
GDP growth
GDP world share
Payroll frequency
Working hours
40 hours/week

Overview in Marshall Islands

Read more
  • Geographical Overview: The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is located in the central Pacific Ocean, comprising 29 coral atolls and five isolated islands across two main chains: Ratak and Ralik. The nation spans over 750,000 square miles of ocean but has a small land area of 70 square miles. Majuro atoll is the capital, and Ebeye island is another significant population center.

  • Historical Background: Inhabited for about 3,000 years by Micronesian seafarers, the islands were later named after British explorer John Marshall. They underwent Spanish, German, and Japanese rule, becoming a US-administered territory post-World War II, and achieved independence in 1986 under a Compact of Free Association with the United States.

  • Socio-Economic Landscape: The population of approximately 60,000 is predominantly Marshallese, with significant diaspora in the United States. The economy is small and mixed, heavily reliant on government services, fisheries, and agriculture, with limited tourism. The US military uses Kwajalein Atoll, providing financial and developmental assistance in return. Challenges include economic diversification, climate change vulnerability, and high non-communicable disease rates.

  • Workforce and Employment: The government is the largest formal sector employer, with traditional sectors like fisheries and agriculture focused on subsistence. The workforce faces challenges from migration, skills shortages, and the need for private sector growth. Cultural factors influence work practices, including respect for hierarchy and community involvement.

  • Cultural Dynamics: Marshallese culture emphasizes indirect communication, respect for authority, and community participation, affecting workplace dynamics and decision-making processes.

  • Economic Potential and Challenges: The Marshall Islands has potential in renewable energy, aquaculture, and technology sectors due to its strategic location and resources like the Exclusive Economic Zone. However, challenges include limited land, remoteness, climate vulnerability, and dependence on external aid.

Taxes in Marshall Islands

Read more
  • Social Security Contributions: Employers in the Marshall Islands must contribute 8% of an employee's gross salary to the Social Security Administration (MISSA), with a cap of USD $10,000 per quarter. They also need to withhold and remit the same amount from the employee's salary.

  • Registration Requirements: Employers must register with MISSA to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

  • Other Deductions: Employers may deduct health insurance premiums from employees' salaries based on the specifics of the health plan provided.

  • Tax Environment: The Marshall Islands does not impose individual income tax or VAT but uses a Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) ranging from 3% to 8%, depending on the business type. This tax is levied on gross revenue from services.

  • Corporate Tax Benefits: There is no corporate income tax, and non-resident companies are not required to file corporate tax returns. Specific tax incentives are available for businesses investing significantly and employing local citizens at high salaries.

  • Tax Incentives for Specific Activities: Companies involved in deep seabed mining within the economic zone are exempt from most taxes except for those on wages and social security contributions, though they must pay royalties and production charges.

  • Additional Considerations: While benefiting from tax incentives, companies must still account for various fees such as registration, trust administration, and work permit fees.

Leave in Marshall Islands

Read more

In the Marshall Islands, seafarers are entitled to a minimum of 2.5 calendar days of paid annual leave per month of service as per the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 and reinforced by the RMI Maritime Act. For other employees, vacation leave accrues based on the length of service, with those working 40-hour weeks accruing 8 hours per pay period, and those on 60-hour weeks accruing 12 hours. The maximum vacation leave accumulation is capped at 208 hours, or 26 working days.

Employees can carry over up to 80 hours of unused vacation leave to the next year, and are compensated for any unused leave upon termination of employment. It's important to note that vacation leave policies can vary by employer, so employees should refer to their specific contracts or company handbooks.

The Marshall Islands also observes several public holidays, including New Year's Day, Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day, Good Friday, Constitution Day, Fishermen's Day, Ri Jerbal Day, Manit Day, Presidents' Day, Gospel Day, and Christmas Day.

Additionally, employees are entitled to other types of leave such as sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave, family or community service leave, bereavement leave, and religious observance leave, with specific terms often detailed in employment contracts or company policies.

Benefits in Marshall Islands

Read more
  • Mandatory Benefits in the Marshall Islands:

    • Social Security (Retirement) Insurance: Administered by the Marshall Islands Social Security Administration (MISSA), this program requires contributions of 3.5% from both employers and employees. Eligible employees can receive a monthly pension benefit starting at age 63.
    • Basic Health Insurance Plan: This plan provides basic medical coverage, with costs shared between employers and employees. The specifics of coverage are not detailed, but it typically includes essential medical services.
  • Optional Employee Benefits:

    • Additional Life and Dependent Insurance: Some employers offer life insurance that can extend to dependents, with premiums paid by the employee.
    • Extended Health Insurance: Employers may provide plans that offer broader coverage than the Basic Health Insurance Plan.
    • Paid Time Off: Includes vacation, sick, and personal leave, which varies by employer.
    • Professional Development and Flexible Work Arrangements: Some employers offer support for further education and flexible working conditions.
    • On-site Amenities: Such as subsidized meals and childcare.
  • Retirement Planning:

    • MISSA: Provides a pension upon retirement, with contributions from both employer and employee.
    • Private Retirement Savings Plans: Increasingly popular, these plans offer individualized savings and potential tax benefits, with some employers providing matching contributions.
  • Additional Considerations:

    • A proposed government-employee retirement plan is under consideration, aiming to involve a qualified U.S. fund management firm.
    • Employees are encouraged to engage in personal retirement planning, potentially with the assistance of a financial advisor.

Workers Rights in Marshall Islands

Read more

In the Marshall Islands, employment termination laws allow for dismissal based on reasons such as misconduct, contract completion, mutual agreement, and redundancy. Notice requirements vary, with specific guidelines for seafarers under the Seafarer's Employment Agreement and less standardized rules for other employees. Severance pay is also more defined for seafarers than for land-based workers.

The country has anti-discrimination laws embedded in its Constitution and Public Service Act, protecting against discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and more, although enforcement and specific protections for groups like LGBTQ+ individuals are limited.

Work conditions are not uniformly regulated across all sectors, with seafarers receiving more specific guidelines under the Marshall Islands Maritime Act regarding work hours, rest periods, and ergonomic requirements. For land-based workers, standards are less defined but generally include a common practice of a 40-hour workweek and some employers offering paid annual leave.

Health and safety regulations are evolving, focusing on providing a safe work environment, identifying hazards, and ensuring proper training and information for employees. Enforcement is limited, with responsibilities falling to various entities like the Ministry of Labor and the Marshall Islands Maritime Authority, depending on the sector.

Overall, while some employment standards and protections exist, many regulations in the Marshall Islands are still developing, and enforcement capabilities may be limited.

Agreements in Marshall Islands

Read more

In the Marshall Islands, employment agreements are categorized mainly into Fixed-Term Employment Contracts and Seafarer Employment Agreements. Fixed-term contracts are used for specific roles with clear start and end dates, often for project-based or temporary positions, detailing job responsibilities, salary, and benefits. Seafarer Employment Agreements, adhering to the Maritime Labour Convention and local laws, include specifics like repatriation, qualifications, and compensation, generally following a standardized format.

Additional elements in employment contracts include compensation details like salary and benefits, terms of employment duration, termination conditions, confidentiality and intellectual property rights, workplace policies, and dispute resolution methods, all governed by Marshall Islands law. Probationary periods, not universally mandated but often included, allow for performance evaluations and easier termination during this initial phase.

Confidentiality clauses protect sensitive information, requiring clear definitions and reasonable scope, while non-compete clauses, less common and currently under scrutiny by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, may face changes affecting their enforceability. Employers must carefully consider these clauses given the legal uncertainties and potential changes in U.S. regulations that could impact the Marshall Islands.

Remote Work in Marshall Islands

Read more

The Marshall Islands is adapting to the trend of remote work, despite lacking specific national laws for such arrangements. The Employment Standards Act (ESA) of 2008, which outlines basic employment rights like working hours and minimum wage, serves as a foundational legal framework but does not address remote work directly. Employers need to create additional agreements to comply with the ESA for remote settings, particularly regarding working hours and record-keeping.

Technological infrastructure remains a challenge, with limited internet access primarily outside of major atolls like Majuro and Kwajalein. Employers considering remote work must assess and possibly provide for the technological needs of their employees to ensure effective remote work capabilities.

In the absence of specific remote work regulations, it is up to employers to develop comprehensive remote work policies. These should cover eligibility, necessary equipment, communication practices, performance management, and health and safety guidelines. Additionally, the Marshall Islands labor market is exploring flexible work options such as part-time work, flexitime, and job sharing, though these are not specifically regulated by law.

Data protection and privacy are crucial in remote work settings. Employers must implement robust security measures and ensure employees are trained on data protection policies. Employees have rights to access, correct, or request the deletion of their personal data. Best practices for securing data include using strong passwords, limiting data sharing, employing secure remote access controls, encrypting sensitive data, and having a clear incident response plan.

Working Hours in Marshall Islands

Read more

In the Marshall Islands, there is no national legislation that universally sets standard working hours, overtime pay, or rest periods for all sectors. Specific regulations exist for seafarers under the Marshall Islands Maritime Administrator's regulations, which comply with the International Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) and the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW Convention). These regulations ensure minimum rest periods and address overtime but do not specify pay rates, leaving such details to be negotiated between employers and seafarers or their unions.

For non-maritime employees, the situation is less clear. There are no specific laws regarding overtime pay or rest periods, and such conditions typically depend on individual employment contracts or company policies. The Employment Relations Act, 2004, while not directly addressing these issues, promotes fair treatment which could support claims for reasonable overtime compensation or rest periods in the absence of explicit contractual or policy provisions.

Additionally, there are no national laws outlining regulations or premium pay for night shift or weekend work. These conditions are also generally governed by employment contracts or internal company policies, with the Employment Relations Act potentially providing a basis for fair compensation claims when such terms are not specified.

Salary in Marshall Islands

Read more

Termination in Marshall Islands

Read more

In the Marshall Islands, labor laws do not mandate a universal minimum notice period for employment termination, except for seafarers who are protected under the Marshall Islands Maritime Act, ensuring a minimum notice period of seven days. For other employees, notice periods can be specified within individual employment contracts. Additionally, while there is no statutory requirement for severance pay, it may be included in employment contracts or applicable under certain conditions for seafarers. The termination process, whether voluntary or involuntary, should adhere to the terms outlined in employment contracts and ensure procedural fairness and just cause in cases of dismissal.

Freelancing in Marshall Islands

Read more
  • Employee vs. Independent Contractor: In the Marshall Islands, the classification between employees and independent contractors is significant for determining rights, benefits, and tax obligations. Employees are under the control of their employer and integrated into the company structure, while independent contractors maintain autonomy over their work and business operations.

  • Contract Structures: The Marshall Islands does not have a specific law for independent contractor agreements, but best practices include using fixed-term contracts for specific projects or open-ended service agreements for ongoing work. Contracts should clearly define scope, deliverables, timelines, and terms.

  • Negotiation Practices: Marshallese culture values patience and collaboration in negotiations, preferring indirect communication. Written contracts are recommended to ensure clarity and prevent misunderstandings.

  • Common Industries: Independent contractors are commonly used in construction, maritime, and tourism industries in the Marshall Islands.

  • Intellectual Property (IP): The Marshall Islands lacks a codified IP law, but freelancers generally retain copyright ownership unless otherwise specified in a contract. It's advisable to consult a lawyer to ensure IP rights are protected.

  • Tax and Social Security: Independent contractors must pay a flat business income tax rate of 30% and are responsible for both employer and employee portions of social security contributions, totaling 11.5%.

  • Insurance: Freelancers are advised to consider general liability, health, and professional indemnity insurance to protect against potential financial liabilities and health expenses.

Health & Safety in Marshall Islands

Read more

The Marshall Islands has a comprehensive Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) framework influenced by international standards and local regulations, as detailed in the International Labour Organization's Country Profile. The framework includes specific guidelines for various sectors, with the maritime sector receiving focused attention through Marine Notices issued by the Republic of the Marshall Islands Maritime Administrator (RMI). Key legislation such as the Public Health, Safety, and Welfare Act and the National Environmental Protection Act govern public health and environmental safety respectively.

Employers are required to ensure a safe working environment, conduct risk assessments, and provide necessary training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Workers have rights to participate in safety matters and refuse unsafe work. Incident reporting and investigations are crucial for preventing future accidents.

The RMI plays a significant role in setting OSH standards for the maritime industry, including detailed requirements for hazard identification, risk assessment, and emergency preparedness. Industry-specific standards and regular inspections ensure compliance with safety regulations, with re-inspections and corrective actions mandated for non-compliance. Worker compensation claims and detailed record-keeping are also essential components of the OSH framework in the Marshall Islands.

Dispute Resolution in Marshall Islands

Read more

Labor disputes in the Marshall Islands are handled by general jurisdiction courts, such as the High Court and lower-level courts, which may lack specific expertise in labor law. Without dedicated labor courts, disputes follow standard civil proceedings, covering issues like contract disputes, unpaid wages, wrongful termination, and discrimination. The legal framework for labor laws is minimal, with some protections under the Social Security Act and the Minimum Wage Act.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (Labor Division) offers limited guidance and mediation, with few options for legal aid. Compliance audits and inspections are crucial but limited in scope and effectiveness due to resource constraints. Non-compliance penalties are weak, and whistleblower protections are absent, discouraging workers from reporting violations.

The Marshall Islands has ratified few International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, showing minimal alignment with ILO standards. Major gaps exist in compliance with fundamental labor standards, particularly in areas like freedom of association, child labor, discrimination, and occupational safety.

Cultural Considerations in Marshall Islands

Read more

The Marshallese workplace is characterized by a communication style that emphasizes indirectness, respect, and cultural nuances, essential for effective business interactions in the Marshall Islands. The culture is low-context, relying on implicit understanding and relationship building, with direct confrontation often viewed as disrespectful. Communication is formal, with a hierarchical structure where deference to superiors is shown through language and body language. Non-verbal cues like maintaining eye contact and avoiding crossed arms are significant, and silence can indicate thoughtful consideration.

In negotiations, building relationships and achieving consensus are prioritized, with strategies focusing on patience, highlighting long-term benefits, and flexibility. The business environment is influenced by traditional and formal hierarchies, with decision-making typically top-down but also seeking consensus. Team dynamics emphasize collectivism and respect for hierarchy, potentially affecting innovation and open communication.

Leadership in the Marshall Islands tends to be transformational and relationship-based, aligning with cultural values of community and respect. Management theories like Hofstede's and Trompenaars' frameworks reflect high power distance and a preference for particularism in the Marshallese society.

Statutory holidays and cultural observances significantly impact business operations, with several holidays throughout the year where businesses close or operate minimally. Employers are encouraged to be understanding of employees' needs for time off during these periods, in line with the Marshall Islands Labor Act which mandates paid leave for designated holidays. Understanding these cultural elements is crucial for conducting successful business in the Marshall Islands.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.