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Discover everything you need to know about Mauritania

Hire in Mauritania at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Mauritania

Mauritanian Ouguiya
GDP growth
GDP world share
Payroll frequency
Working hours
48 hours/week

Overview in Mauritania

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Mauritania, a vast Saharan country in Northwest Africa, is characterized by its sparse population, desert landscapes, and a hot, dry climate. Historically a bridge between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, it has a rich history marked by the influence of the Sanhaja Berber people and the Almoravid Empire, which helped spread Islam in the region. Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Mauritania has experienced political instability, economic challenges, and ethnic tensions.

The economy is primarily based on resource extraction, especially iron ore, with limited industrial capacity. The majority of Mauritians live in urban areas like the capital, Nouakchott, although large rural areas are sparsely populated. The society is ethnically diverse, including Arab-Berber, Haratin, and other sub-Saharan groups, with ongoing social inequalities and a legacy of slavery that persists despite its official abolition in 1981.

Mauritania's workforce is young, with a significant gender gap in labor force participation. Education and skills development are crucial challenges, with low literacy rates and a need for training programs aligned with market demands. The economy includes substantial informal and agricultural sectors, with growing employment in mining and services.

Culturally, Mauritians value indirect communication, relationship building, and family obligations, which influence workplace dynamics. Organizational hierarchies are respected, and decision-making often involves extensive consultation. While traditional norms prevail, there is a trend toward modernization, especially in urban areas.

Key economic sectors include mining, fishing, and agriculture, with emerging opportunities in oil, gas, and renewable energy. The tourism sector also shows potential for growth. The government is a major employer, and a large informal sector provides critical income for many.

Taxes in Mauritania

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Employer Tax Responsibilities in Mauritania

Employers in Mauritania have multiple tax obligations including contributions to the Caisse Nationale de Sécurité Sociale (CNSS) and the Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Maladie (CNAM), as well as withholding income tax (ITS) from employee salaries. The breakdown of employer contributions to CNSS includes:

  • Industrial Health Insurance: 2%
  • Work-Related Injury Insurance: 5%
  • Retirement Plan: 5%
  • Family Allowances: 4%

Additionally, employers contribute 5% of the employee's gross salary to CNAM for health insurance and 2% to the Office National de la Médecine du Travail (ONMT) for occupational health services. These contributions are based on the employee's gross salary, including bonuses and allowances, and are capped at a monthly earnings limit of 15,000 MRU.

Employee Contributions and Income Tax

Employees contribute 1% of their gross salary to CNSS and 4% to CNAM. Mauritania's progressive income tax rates are:

  • 0% up to 6,000 MRU
  • 15% for 6,001 - 9,000 MRU
  • 25% for 9,001 - 21,000 MRU
  • 40% for income over 21,000 MRU

Deductible expenses for employees include a fixed deduction of 6,000 MRU, social security and health insurance contributions, benefits in kind, and other specific deductions.

VAT and Business Taxation

The standard VAT rate in Mauritania is 16%, with certain services being zero-rated or exempt. Businesses must register for VAT if their turnover exceeds 50,000,000 MRU, though voluntary registration is possible below this threshold. VAT returns and payments are required as per the determined filing frequency.

Tax Incentives

Mauritania offers various tax incentives to encourage investment, particularly in sectors like mining, agriculture, fishing, and tourism, as well as in Special Economic Zones (SEZs). These incentives include reduced corporate income tax rates, tax holidays, exemptions on profits, and customs duty exemptions. SMEs also benefit from a preferential tax regime with reduced rates and exemptions during their initial phases.

Leave in Mauritania

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In Mauritania, the labor law ensures that employees receive paid annual leave, accruing at a rate of 1.5 working days per month of service, with additional days granted based on seniority. Employees under 18 and non-residents have higher accrual rates. Annual leave can be segmented if it exceeds 12 days, with employer-employee agreement.

Special Leave Considerations

  • Maternity Leave: Women are entitled to 14 weeks, with 8 weeks mandatory post-childbirth, paid at 100% of the average daily earnings of the last three months.
  • Sick Leave: Not mandated by law but may be covered under collective agreements or company policies.
  • Other Types of Leave: Paternity and bereavement leave are not statutory but may be offered by some employers.

Public Holidays

Mauritania celebrates various national and Islamic holidays, with specific dates for Islamic holidays varying annually due to the lunar calendar. Key holidays include:

  • National: New Year's Day, Independence Day, International Labor Day, and Africa Day.
  • Islamic: Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, First of Muharram, and Mawlid an-Nabi.

Employers must comply with these regulations, and more favorable conditions may be available through industry-specific regulations or collective bargaining agreements.

Benefits in Mauritania

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Mauritania's labor laws provide a range of mandatory benefits to employees, including social security, paid time off, and additional benefits such as overtime compensation and severance pay. Introduced in February 2021, the social security system covers retirement, disability, sickness, maternity, and family allowances, with contributions from both employers and employees. Employees are entitled to annual leave, public holidays, and 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Beyond these mandatory benefits, some employers offer optional perks like private health insurance, life insurance, transportation allowances, meal vouchers, and flexible work arrangements to attract and retain talent. These optional benefits vary by employer and are not legally required.

Health insurance coverage in Mauritania is not mandatory, and while some employers provide it, overall coverage remains low. The primary retirement plan is the public social security pension, which requires contributions from both employers and employees. Private retirement plans exist but are less common, and information on these is limited. For a comprehensive understanding of private retirement options, consulting a Mauritanian financial advisor is recommended.

Workers Rights in Mauritania

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In Mauritania, employment termination is governed by the Mauritanian Labor Code and collective bargaining agreements, which outline lawful grounds for dismissal, notice requirements, and severance pay entitlements. Lawful grounds for dismissal include economic, technological, or structural reasons; disciplinary reasons and gross misconduct; and employee incompetence. Notice periods vary based on contract type and employee seniority, with specific regulations for both fixed-term and indefinite-term contracts. Severance pay may be mandatory in cases of economic termination or unfair dismissal.

Additionally, Mauritania has laws against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, and disability, though enforcement remains weak. Employers are required to prevent and address workplace discrimination and ensure a safe working environment. This includes obligations like risk assessments, providing personal protective equipment, and establishing safe work practices. Employees have rights to a safe workplace, proper training, and the ability to refuse unsafe work without repercussions.

The standard workweek is set at 40 hours, though often exceeded, especially in informal sectors. Employees are entitled to rest breaks, a weekly rest period, and paid annual leave. Health and safety regulations are enforced by the Department of Labor and the National Social Security Fund, focusing on minimizing workplace risks and ensuring compliance through inspections and insurance programs.

Agreements in Mauritania

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Mauritania's labor law outlines two main types of employment contracts: fixed-term and indefinite-term. Fixed-term contracts are for a specific duration, not exceeding two years with up to two renewals, and are ideal for temporary or project-based roles. Indefinite-term contracts, or open-ended contracts, do not have a specified end date and continue until terminated by either party under legal conditions. These are typically used for permanent positions.

Employment agreements must clearly identify the parties involved, specify the contract type and duration, and detail the job description, duties, compensation, benefits, working hours, and termination clauses. Additional clauses like confidentiality and intellectual property rights can be included based on the nature of the job.

The Labour Code also regulates probationary periods, allowing a maximum of two months for technicians and three months for higher qualifications, with provisions for termination during this period. Confidentiality and non-compete clauses are subject to enforceability based on their reasonableness and specificity. Non-compete clauses are particularly scrutinized and should be narrowly tailored to protect legitimate business interests without overly restricting future employment opportunities.

Remote Work in Mauritania

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Remote work in Mauritania is still developing, with the Mauritanian Labor Code of 1974 providing the primary legal framework, albeit without specific provisions for remote work. Employers and employees are encouraged to create clear written agreements to address remote work scenarios, covering aspects like communication, data security, and work expectations.

Technological challenges, particularly internet connectivity in rural areas, hinder the adoption of remote work. Companies may need to invest in technology and infrastructure to support remote operations effectively.

Employer responsibilities in Mauritania include updating employment contracts to reflect remote work arrangements, providing necessary equipment and resources, ensuring data security, and addressing health and safety concerns for remote employees. There are no explicit legal mandates for part-time work, flexitime, or job sharing, but these can be arranged through mutual agreements.

Data protection is crucial, with employers needing to comply with the Data Protection Act of 2018, ensuring secure data handling, and providing training on data security. Employees have rights to privacy and data access, which must be respected in remote work settings. Employers should implement best practices like minimizing data access, using strong passwords, and regular data monitoring to secure company and personal data in remote work environments.

Working Hours in Mauritania

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  • Work Hours and Overtime in Mauritania:

    • The standard workweek is capped at 40 hours, not exceeding 8 hours per day.
    • Overtime is limited to 4 hours daily or 20 hours weekly, compensated at 150% of the regular hourly rate.
    • Overtime rates may be influenced by collective bargaining or ministerial decrees.
  • Rest Periods:

    • Daily rest: Minimum of 10 consecutive hours.
    • Weekly rest: At least 24 consecutive hours, typically on Fridays, with possible exceptions via ministerial decree.
    • Rest breaks: Not explicitly mandated but commonly a 30-minute break every 5 hours, varying by industry.
  • Night and Weekend Work:

    • Night work, usually between 7 pm and 6 am, requires prior authorization and may include a wage supplement.
    • Sunday is the official rest day, with work requiring specific authorization and compensation.

Salary in Mauritania

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Understanding competitive salaries in Mauritania involves multiple factors due to its unique economic conditions. Here are the key points:

  • Salary Ranges and Averages: Salaries vary widely, with monthly figures ranging from 7,089 MRO to 22,395 MRO. Estimates suggest an average annual salary of around $106,851, equivalent to an hourly rate of $51. Factors influencing salaries include job title, industry, experience, skills, education, company size, and location.

  • Resources for Further Research: To better understand salary trends, one can utilize salary surveys, job boards, and networking with local professionals. These resources provide insights into average salaries across various industries and job titles.

  • Legislative Framework and Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in Mauritania is set by a decree following consultations with the National Labour, Employment and Social Security Council. The current minimum wage is reported differently across sources, with some stating MRU 3,000 per month since 2011.

  • Bonuses and Allowances: While not mandatory, many Mauritanian companies offer bonuses and allowances such as housing, transportation, and meal vouchers to attract and retain employees. These are often exempt from income tax up to a certain limit.

  • Payroll and Overtime: Businesses typically follow a monthly payroll cycle. The legal working hours are capped at 40 per week, with overtime requiring additional compensation.

This overview provides a foundation for understanding the complexities of salary structures and labor laws in Mauritania.

Termination in Mauritania

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  • Notice Requirements: In Mauritania, both employers and employees must provide written notice for termination, detailing the cause, although there is no legally mandated notice period. Customarily, senior employees receive longer notice periods.

  • Fixed-Term Contracts: These contracts end automatically at their expiry. Termination before expiry requires mutual consent or occurs due to gross misconduct or force majeure, without a notice period.

  • Probationary Period: Employment can be terminated without notice during a probationary period of up to 6 months. Post-probation, notice requirements apply.

  • Unfair Dismissal: Employees dismissed without valid reason or proper notice may be eligible for compensation, although severance pay is not legally required and depends on individual contracts, collective agreements, or company policy.

  • Severance Pay: While not mandatory, severance pay may be negotiated, especially in cases of economic dismissals, and is typically based on the employee's salary and years of service.

  • Termination Types: Employment can end by mutual agreement, employer dismissal with valid reason and written notice, or employee resignation with written notice. Immediate termination is permissible for fixed-term contract expiry, force majeure, or gross misconduct.

Freelancing in Mauritania

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In Mauritania, distinguishing between employees and independent contractors is governed by various legal sources, including the Labor Code and social security regulations, despite the absence of a specific law for this purpose. The key differentiator is the level of subordination; employees operate under the employer's control, while independent contractors maintain autonomy over their work schedules, tools, and methods. Misclassification can lead to legal and financial consequences, such as fines and backdated social charges.

Contractual agreements for independent contractors should clearly define the scope of work, compensation, confidentiality, and termination clauses. It's advisable to consult with legal professionals to ensure compliance with local laws and protect both parties' interests. Negotiations should respect Mauritanian business culture, emphasizing personal relationships and respect.

Independent contracting is prevalent in sectors like IT, translation, consulting, and creative industries. Intellectual property rights are crucial, with ownership typically remaining with the creator unless otherwise stipulated in a written agreement. Tax obligations for freelancers include income tax and potentially VAT, depending on turnover. Optional social security contributions can offer future benefits.

Insurance is another critical consideration for freelancers, with options including professional liability, general liability, and health insurance. Consulting with tax advisors and insurance brokers can help ensure compliance and adequate coverage.

Health & Safety in Mauritania

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Mauritania's labor laws, particularly the Labor Code (Loi n° 2004-017), outline comprehensive health and safety regulations enforced by the Ministry of Public Service, Labor, and Employment Modernization and the National Occupational Health Office (ONMT). Employers are mandated to assess hazards, provide safety training and equipment, and maintain health checks and records. Workers have rights to refuse dangerous tasks, report hazards, and receive compensation for work-related injuries through the social security system.

The regulatory framework includes specific provisions for machine safety, chemical hazards, noise, ergonomics, sanitation, and construction safety. Despite these regulations, challenges such as limited enforcement resources and low awareness among employers and workers persist. Recent improvements include strategic development and international collaboration to enhance occupational health and safety standards.

Inspections by the Labor Inspection Services focus on workplace conditions, hazard identification, safety measures, and record-keeping, with the frequency influenced by various factors. The inspection process involves planning, an opening meeting, a detailed walkthrough, a closing meeting, and a formal report with follow-up actions including corrective measures and potential penalties.

In the event of workplace accidents, employers must conduct investigations to identify causes and prevent future incidents, with serious cases escalated to the Labor Inspectorate. Workers affected by occupational accidents or diseases are entitled to compensation, and there are specific protocols for reporting accidents and filing claims to ensure workers' rights are protected.

Dispute Resolution in Mauritania

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Mauritania's judicial system includes specialized Labor Courts that handle individual labor disputes primarily in major cities. These courts deal with issues like employment contracts, dismissals, wages, discrimination, and social security disputes. The process typically starts with conciliation and may proceed to a formal hearing if unresolved. Arbitration is less common and used mainly for collective disputes, with procedures that can be less formal than court proceedings.

The Labor Inspectorate, under the Ministry of Public Service, Labor, and Modernization of the Administration, is responsible for enforcing labor regulations through various types of inspections. Non-compliance with labor laws can lead to penalties ranging from warnings to criminal liability for severe violations.

Challenges in enforcing labor standards include limited resources and the large informal economy. Whistleblower protections are weak, and there is a need for comprehensive laws to improve security for whistleblowers and encourage reporting of violations.

Mauritania has ratified several ILO conventions, influencing its domestic labor laws which prohibit forced labor, allow freedom of association, regulate child labor, and mandate non-discrimination in employment. However, challenges remain in fully implementing these standards, particularly regarding freedom of association and child labor. Efforts to improve compliance include legal reforms, combating child labor, and capacity building for the Labor Inspectorate and trade unions.

Cultural Considerations in Mauritania

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Mauritanian workplace communication uniquely blends directness with courtesy, formality with cultural nuances, and a strong emphasis on non-verbal cues. Direct communication is practiced with a respectful tone, ensuring transparency and trust-building, while initial formal interactions often evolve into more informal exchanges as relationships develop. Non-verbal communication, such as eye contact and body language, plays a significant role in expressing respect and attentiveness.

In negotiations, building a rapport and trust is prioritized before business discussions, with a focus on achieving mutually beneficial outcomes through respectful and direct communication. Patience is crucial, as negotiations may involve multiple discussions. Cultural sensitivity is important, especially in social interactions and gift-giving, which should be modest to avoid perceptions of bribery.

Mauritanian businesses typically have a hierarchical structure with centralized decision-making, often in the hands of senior management or family leaders. Communication tends to be formal, especially between different hierarchical levels, and teamwork is encouraged within similar levels. Leadership styles are generally directive, with some leaders displaying paternalistic tendencies, emphasizing loyalty and reputation.

Understanding and respecting Mauritania's cultural practices, including religious observances and national holidays like Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, and the Prophet Muhammad's Birthday, is essential for successful business operations. These observances can affect business hours and operations, with closures during major holidays and reduced hours during Ramadan and Fridays for prayers.

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