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Sao Tome and Principe

Discover everything you need to know about Sao Tome and Principe

Hire in Sao Tome and Principe at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome
GDP growth
GDP world share
Payroll frequency
Working hours
40 hours/week

Overview in Sao Tome and Principe

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Sao Tome and Principe, the second smallest African nation, is located in the Gulf of Guinea and consists of two main volcanic islands, São Tomé and Príncipe. The islands were uninhabited until discovered by Portuguese explorers in the late 15th century and subsequently became a hub for the slave trade and sugar production. After a decline in sugar, the economy shifted towards cocoa and coffee production, which still heavily influences its economy today. The country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

The population of approximately 228,000 is predominantly of mixed African and Portuguese descent, with Portuguese as the official language. The economy is largely based on agriculture, particularly cocoa, with emerging sectors in tourism and small-scale manufacturing. The workforce is young and primarily low-skilled, with ongoing efforts to improve education and vocational training.

Challenges include poverty, limited infrastructure, and economic vulnerability, but opportunities lie in sectors like tourism, the blue economy, and renewable energy. Cultural aspects such as indirect communication, respect for hierarchy, and a strong emphasis on personal relationships influence workplace dynamics. The country's strategic investments aim to diversify the economy and develop infrastructure to support growth in high-potential sectors.

Taxes in Sao Tome and Principe

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In Sao Tome and Principe, employers and employees have distinct tax responsibilities:

  • Employer Responsibilities:

    • Social Security Contributions: Employers contribute 8% of an employee's gross salary to the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) monthly.
    • Corporate Income Tax (CIT): The rate is 25% of taxable profits, with potential lower rates for small businesses. CIT is generally paid annually.
    • Withholding Tax: Employers must withhold personal income tax from salaries and remit it to tax authorities.
    • Other Taxes: Additional taxes may apply depending on the property or industry-specific levies.
  • Employee Responsibilities:

    • Personal Income Tax (PIT): This is levied on a progressive scale after deductions like personal exemptions.
    • Social Security Contributions: Employees contribute 6% of their gross salary.
  • Value-Added Tax (VAT):

    • Rates: Standard rate is 15%, with a reduced rate of 7.5% for basic necessities. Some services, like financial and medical services, are exempt.
    • Filing and Payment: Businesses exceeding a certain turnover must register for VAT, filing returns and making payments monthly or quarterly.
  • Tax Incentives:

    • Types: These include reductions in corporate income tax, import duty exemptions, and other benefits for specific sectors like tourism and agriculture.
    • Qualification Criteria: Criteria include a minimum investment threshold and contributions to economic development.
    • Application Process: Involves submitting a detailed business proposal and securing approvals from relevant authorities.

Tax laws are subject to change, and it is advised to consult with a tax professional in Sao Tome and Principe for current regulations and compliance.

Leave in Sao Tome and Principe

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In São Tomé and Príncipe, the General Labor Law regulates employee vacation leave entitlements, stipulating that employees are entitled to 26 working days of paid annual leave per year of service. The scheduling of vacation leave should be mutually agreed upon by employers and employees, considering the operational needs of the organization. The country also observes several national and religious holidays, including New Year's Day, Martyrs' Day, Labour Day, Armed Forces Day, Agricultural Reform Day, Independence Day, São Tomé Day, and Christmas Day.

Additionally, the General Labor Law outlines other types of leave, such as sick leave, maternity leave, and paternity leave, the specifics of which may be detailed in collective agreements or individual contracts. Bereavement leave and special leave for civic duties or personal emergencies are also available, with conditions varying based on employment contracts or collective agreements. Eligibility for these leaves depends on the type of leave and length of service, and some workplaces may offer more generous provisions through collective bargaining agreements.

Benefits in Sao Tome and Principe

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Sao Tome and Principe's Labor Code provides a range of mandatory employee benefits, including 30 days of paid annual leave, 60 days of paid maternity leave, and provisions for sick leave with a requirement for a medical certificate. While there is no statutory paternity leave, other benefits include overtime pay, notice periods for termination, social security benefits, severance pay, and paid public holidays.

Optional benefits offered by some employers include private health insurance, wellness programs, meal and transportation allowances, performance-based bonuses, and flexible work arrangements. These perks aim to attract and retain talent by enhancing work-life balance and providing financial and health support.

The national social security system, funded by employer and employee contributions, offers basic health coverage and pensions. Private health insurance is available for those seeking more comprehensive coverage. The retirement system requires a minimum of 15 years of contributions, with a standard retirement age of 62, although early retirement is available for women under certain conditions. The pension amount is calculated based on the insured's average earnings, with a minimum and maximum payout cap.

Workers Rights in Sao Tome and Principe

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In São Tomé and Príncipe, the Labor Code mandates valid reasons for employment termination, including misconduct and economic reasons, with specific notice periods based on the employee's tenure. Employers must provide severance pay equivalent to one month's salary per year of service. The code also requires adherence to fair procedures during terminations and protects against discrimination based on race, sex, social origin, religious belief, political affiliation, and philosophical conviction. Employers have responsibilities to prevent discrimination, investigate complaints, and take corrective actions if necessary. However, there are no specific protections for LGBTQI+ individuals and enforcement of these laws can be challenging.

The labor code outlines employer obligations for workplace health and safety, including risk assessments and safe work practices. Employees have rights to refuse unsafe work, receive information and training, and report unsafe conditions without fear of retaliation. The Ministry of Labor enforces these regulations, ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. Additionally, standard work hours are typically 40 per week, with overtime compensated at 125% of the regular wage, and employees are entitled to paid annual leave and rest periods.

Agreements in Sao Tome and Principe

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In Sao Tome and Principe, employment agreements are typically categorized based on the duration and scope of employment, including fixed-term, indefinite-term, and project-based agreements. Fixed-term contracts are limited to a maximum of three years with a possible renewal under exceptional circumstances, while indefinite-term contracts do not have a predefined end date, offering more job security. Project-based agreements end upon the completion of the specified project. Additionally, temporary work agency agreements are used for specific tasks and generally fall under fixed-term or project-based categories.

Key elements of employment agreements include:

  • Parties to the Agreement: Identification of employer and employee with contact details.
  • Job Description and Duties: Detailed roles, responsibilities, and reporting structure.
  • Term and Termination: Duration of the contract, termination conditions, and required notice periods.
  • Compensation and Benefits: Details on salary, bonuses, payment methods, working hours, and leave entitlements.
  • Dispute Resolution: Procedures for addressing disagreements, potentially involving mediation or labor courts.
  • Applicable Law: Confirmation that the agreement adheres to the laws of Sao Tome and Principe.

Probationary periods are common, with a maximum duration of six months, and can be negotiated between employer and employee. Employment agreements may also include confidentiality and non-compete clauses to protect business interests, but these must comply with local labor laws and respect employee rights, including reasonable limitations on duration and geographical scope.

Remote Work in Sao Tome and Principe

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Sao Tome and Principe is experiencing an increase in remote work, though it lacks a specific legal framework for such arrangements. Current labor laws, including those on working hours, minimum wage, and social security contributions, still apply to remote workers. Employers must ensure clear employment contracts, reliable technological support, and adherence to data security protocols. They are also encouraged to provide necessary equipment and training for remote work setups.

Despite improvements in internet infrastructure, connectivity issues persist, especially outside urban centers, affecting tasks like video conferencing and large file transfers. Employers are advised to support remote workers by providing tools for effective communication and collaboration, and by implementing data protection measures as per the Personal Data Protection Act (Lei nº 24/2016).

Flexible work arrangements such as part-time work, flexitime, and job sharing are also gaining traction, though specific legal provisions for these are not yet established. Employers are encouraged to voluntarily provide equipment and reimburse expenses to facilitate these arrangements and ensure data security through comprehensive policies and employee training.

Working Hours in Sao Tome and Principe

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In Sao Tome and Principe, labor regulations are primarily governed by the Labor Code and collective agreements. The Labor Code does not specify standard working hours directly but sets a maximum of 45 hours per week, typically implying a 9-hour day over a 5-day week, although some references suggest a standard 40-hour workweek.

Collective agreements, negotiated between employers and employee unions, can establish different working hours within the legal framework. Overtime is permissible under conditions such as unexpected workload increases or emergencies, with the first hour paid at 125% and subsequent hours at 150% of the regular wage.

Labor laws also mandate daily rest breaks between one and two hours to prevent worker fatigue and regulate night and weekend work, often requiring special arrangements and additional compensation as negotiated in collective agreements. Enforcement of these laws can be weak, making it essential for both employees and employers to be well-informed of their rights and obligations. For accurate and current information, consulting the Ministry of Labor is recommended.

Salary in Sao Tome and Principe

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Understanding competitive salaries in Sao Tome and Principe involves various factors due to its developing economy. The average salary is approximately 2,415,000 dobra or $115 USD per month. Salaries can vary significantly by industry and expertise, with sectors like tourism and finance potentially offering higher wages. The cost of living, particularly housing costs, also influences salary competitiveness.

The public sector generally aligns with the national average salary, while the private sector might offer higher wages, especially in specialized industries or those with foreign investment. The national minimum wage is set by the Labour Law, with the possibility of different minimum wages for specific sectors. The Council of Ministers, which can revise the minimum wage based on economic conditions, determines the minimum wage.

Additional benefits in Sao Tome and Principe can include a 13th-month salary, transportation, meal, and housing allowances, as well as private health insurance and extra paid time off. These benefits vary by company and industry.

Payroll practices generally follow a monthly cycle, with the Labour Law requiring timely payment and at least bi-monthly payments if the pay period exceeds one month. Payslips, which must detail salary components like base salary, overtime, allowances, and social security contributions, are mandatory.

Termination in Sao Tome and Principe

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In Sao Tome and Principe, the Labour Law does not explicitly specify notice periods but generally requires a one-month notice for terminations, extending to two months for employees with over three years of service. Severance pay is granted after one year of continuous service, calculated as one month's salary per year of service. Termination can occur for cause, with necessary documentation and a chance for the employee to respond, or without cause, adhering to notice periods. Employers are advised to consult with labor law specialists and maintain thorough documentation to avoid legal disputes.

Freelancing in Sao Tome and Principe

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Health & Safety in Sao Tome and Principe

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Sao Tome and Principe has developed a legal framework to ensure worker health and safety, guided by The Labor Code and various ILO conventions. This framework includes:

  • General Workplace Safety: Employers must maintain a safe environment, control hazards, provide necessary PPE, and train workers on safety.

  • Industry-Specific Regulations: Different sectors like agriculture and construction have tailored regulations addressing specific risks such as pesticide use and fall hazards.

  • Worker Rights and Participation: Workers have rights to refuse unsafe work, access safety information, and participate in safety committees.

  • Enforcement and Compliance: The Ministry of Labor enforces safety regulations through inspections, with penalties for non-compliance.

  • Challenges and Limitations: Challenges include limited enforcement resources, a large informal sector, and a general lack of awareness about safety regulations.

Additional safety measures include adequate workplace conditions, hazard control, first aid facilities, and emergency preparedness. Industry-specific standards and occupational health services are also emphasized, with periodic medical examinations for certain workers.

Despite these measures, implementation challenges persist, including enforcement limitations and ensuring safety in the informal sector. The Ministry of Labor conducts inspections and takes follow-up actions on non-compliance, and employers are required to report workplace accidents, with provisions for worker compensation in case of accidents.

Dispute Resolution in Sao Tome and Principe

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Labor Courts in Sao Tome and Principe specialize in resolving labor disputes, governed by the Labor Code. These courts handle cases related to employment contracts, working conditions, wage disputes, discrimination, and more. The process involves filing a claim, attempting conciliation, and if unsuccessful, proceeding to a formal hearing. Decisions can be appealed in higher courts.

Arbitration is an alternative, allowing more flexible dispute resolution, where parties agree to arbitration and select arbitrators knowledgeable in labor law. The arbitration process is less formal but similar to court proceedings, resulting in a binding arbitral award with limited appeal rights.

Compliance audits and inspections in Sao Tome and Principe ensure adherence to laws and regulations, involving stages like planning, fieldwork, reporting, and follow-up. These audits are crucial for maintaining standards and mitigating risks.

Reporting mechanisms for legal violations include law enforcement and regulatory authorities, with some protections for whistleblowers, though the country lacks a comprehensive whistleblower protection law. Recommendations for strengthening protections include enacting a specific law, promoting awareness, and providing support for whistleblowers.

Sao Tome and Principe has ratified several International Labour Organization conventions, influencing its Labor Code to prohibit forced labor, protect maternity rights, and set minimum working ages. Challenges remain in fully implementing these standards, particularly in combating child labor and extending protections to the informal sector. The country collaborates with international bodies like the ILO to enhance labor standards and enforcement.

Cultural Considerations in Sao Tome and Principe

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In Sao Tome and Principe, effective communication and negotiation in professional settings are deeply influenced by cultural norms. The society values indirect communication, where direct confrontation is avoided and subtle cues are preferred. This approach requires understanding non-verbal cues such as maintaining eye contact and interpreting silence, which often reflects contemplation rather than disagreement.

Formality is maintained in communication, with a preference for using titles and a top-down flow in discussions, reflecting the hierarchical nature of business environments. Decision-making is typically reserved for senior members, emphasizing respect for authority and age, which aligns with the high Power Distance Index score of the country.

Negotiations focus on building long-term relationships and trust, with an emphasis on flexibility, patience, and respectful communication. Personal connections and recommendations are crucial, and understanding basic Portuguese can be beneficial due to the legacy of Portuguese influence.

The business structure is predominantly hierarchical, with senior management making key decisions. This can slow down decision-making processes and emphasizes a more directive leadership style. Understanding and adapting to these cultural and structural norms is essential for successful business interactions in Sao Tome and Principe.

Additionally, national and religious holidays, as well as local festivals, significantly impact business operations, often leading to closures or reduced staffing. Awareness of these observances is important for planning and scheduling in the professional context.

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