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Discover everything you need to know about Vanuatu

Hire in Vanuatu at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Vanuatu

Vanuatu Vatu
GDP growth
GDP world share
Payroll frequency
Working hours
40 hours/week

Overview in Vanuatu

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Vanuatu, an archipelago of 83 islands in the South Pacific Ocean, boasts a rich blend of volcanic geography, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture. The islands are predominantly volcanic, with active sites like Mount Yasur attracting tourists and geologists alike. Historically, Vanuatu was settled by the Lapita people around 3,000 years ago and saw European influence grow from the 17th century. It gained independence from a French-British condominium in 1980 and has since faced challenges like natural disasters, yet remains resilient.

Economically, Vanuatu relies on tourism, agriculture, and fishing, but faces challenges due to its remoteness and vulnerability to natural disasters. The nation prioritizes sustainable development and cultural preservation. The workforce is young, with over 65% under 35, and while there is a high participation rate, skill gaps in technical fields persist. The government is investing in vocational training to address this.

Employment is mainly in tourism, agriculture, and public service, with growing sectors like financial services and IT. Cultural norms influence work-life balance and communication styles, emphasizing family, community, and indirect communication. Traditional leadership in Vanuatu values collaboration and respect for elders.

Overall, Vanuatu's economy is supported by traditional sectors like tourism and agriculture, with emerging opportunities in financial services and IT, promising a dynamic future for the nation.

Taxes in Vanuatu

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  • In Vanuatu, employers are required to contribute 4% of an employee's gross salary to the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) and withhold another 4% from the employee's wages for the same fund.
  • Employers must register with the VNPF within seven days of starting a business and remit contributions monthly.
  • While Vanuatu does not have personal income tax, employers may need to withhold other taxes and should consult the Vanuatu Revenue and Customs Department for current requirements.
  • Accurate payroll records must be maintained for compliance, and additional reporting may be necessary for foreign employees.
  • VAT registration is mandatory for businesses with an annual turnover exceeding 4,000,000 Vatu, and they must comply with VAT charging, invoicing, filing, and record-keeping requirements.
  • Certain services are zero-rated for VAT, allowing businesses to reclaim input VAT on expenses.
  • Vanuatu offers significant tax incentives, including no corporate income tax, no capital gains tax, minimal import duties, and freedom in foreign exchange transactions.
  • Specific industries such as agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and manufacturing may qualify for additional tax benefits, though eligibility and application processes vary.

Leave in Vanuatu

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Vacation Leave in Vanuatu:

The Employment Act No. 12 of 2010 in Vanuatu mandates paid annual leave based on the length of service:

  • 1-6 years: 15 days per year.
  • 7-19 years: 21 days per year.
  • 20+ years: 23 days per year, with potential increases after 25 and 30 years of service.

Key Points:

  • Accrual: Typically monthly, though not explicitly defined.
  • Carryover: Not guaranteed; depends on employment agreements.
  • Encashment: Not addressed in the Act; should be specified in employment agreements.

Employer Responsibilities:

  • Maintain accurate leave records.
  • Schedule leave considering operational needs and employee preferences.

Employee Rights:

  • Take earned paid leave.
  • Discuss leave scheduling with employers.

Public Holidays in Vanuatu:

  • National Holidays: Include New Year's Day, National Youth Day, John Fries Day, National Independence Day, Constitution Day, National Unity Day, and major Christian holidays.
  • Provincial Holidays: Specific to each of Vanuatu's six provinces.
  • Custom Holidays: Local observances in villages.

Other Leave Types:

  • Sick Leave: 21 days per year after 3 months of continuous employment.
  • Maternity Leave: 12 weeks, paid at 66% of usual salary, available to all pregnant employees.


  • Public holidays and leave entitlements are crucial for employee well-being, work-life balance, and maintaining a positive work environment.

Benefits in Vanuatu

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Mandatory Benefits in Vanuatu:

  • Annual Leave: Employees are entitled to 12 working days of paid annual leave.
  • Sick Leave: There is a provision for 5 working days of paid sick leave annually.
  • Maternity Leave: Female employees receive 6 weeks of paid maternity leave at 66% of their usual salary.
  • Severance Pay: Eligibility and amount depend on the reason for termination and length of service.
  • Working Hours: The standard workweek is capped at 40 hours, with a maximum of 8 hours per day.
  • Workplace Safety: Employers must ensure a safe working environment, adhering to necessary safety measures.

Optional Benefits in Vanuatu:

  • Health Insurance: Some employers offer private health insurance, covering additional medical services.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Options like remote work and compressed workweeks are available.
  • Professional Development: Employers may invest in training programs to enhance employee skills.
  • Transportation and Meal Allowances: These help cover commuting and meal costs for employees.
  • Mobile Phone Allowances: Provided to ensure employees are reachable and to enhance communication.

Healthcare and Retirement Planning:

  • Public Healthcare System: Funded by the government, it offers basic medical services but may lack specialized care.
  • Private Health Insurance: While not mandatory, it can provide broader coverage including specialist consultations and more.
  • Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF): A mandatory social security scheme where both employers and employees contribute, providing a foundation for retirement income.
  • Private Retirement Options: Includes private pension plans and individual retirement accounts, offering additional retirement savings opportunities.

Enforcement and Compliance:

  • The Vanuatu Ministry of Internal Affairs, through its Department of Labour, oversees the enforcement of these provisions. Employees can lodge complaints if their benefits are not adequately provided.

Workers Rights in Vanuatu

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Vanuatu's Employment Act No. 12 of 2010 is the primary legal framework governing employment termination, specifying lawful grounds such as redundancy, misconduct, poor performance, and incapacity. Employers must adhere to mandated notice periods and may owe severance pay, except in cases of serious misconduct. Disputes can be addressed through the Department of Labour. Additionally, the Constitution of Vanuatu prohibits discrimination, although specific anti-discrimination laws are lacking. Employers are encouraged to foster inclusive workplaces. The Employment Act also sets standards for work hours, rest periods, and ergonomic considerations to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Employers have significant obligations under workplace health and safety regulations, and employees have rights to a safe work environment, including the right to refuse unsafe work. Enforcement is managed by the Department of Labour and supported by the Vanuatu National Provident Fund, which offers accident compensation.

Agreements in Vanuatu

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Vanuatu's labor market recognizes two main types of employment contracts: Fixed-Term Contracts (FTCs) and Open-Ended Contracts (OECs), governed by the Employment Act No. 12 of 2010.

Fixed-Term Contracts (FTCs):

  • Have definite start and end dates.
  • Suitable for temporary or project-based roles.
  • Require clear termination procedures and may need renegotiation upon renewal.

Open-Ended Contracts (OECs):

  • Do not have a specified end date, implying long-term employment.
  • Used primarily for permanent, full-time positions.
  • Termination requires justification and may involve severance pay under certain conditions.

Both contract types benefit from written agreements to avoid disputes, and it's advisable to consult a lawyer for complex cases. Employment agreements should detail job roles, remuneration, working hours, leave entitlements, and termination procedures, among other elements.

Additionally, the probationary period, typically three months for OECs, allows both employer and employee to assess suitability. Confidentiality and non-compete clauses are also enforceable under specific conditions to protect business interests while balancing employee rights.

Remote Work in Vanuatu

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Vanuatu is adapting to remote work without specific laws for such arrangements, relying on the Employment Act No. 12 of 2010 for general employment rights and obligations. Employers have flexibility in creating remote work policies, but must ensure clear communication and adherence to existing labor laws. Challenges include developing technological infrastructure, with considerations for reliable internet access and secure communication tools. Employers are advised to clearly define remote work details in employment contracts, ensure ergonomic and safe home workspaces, and implement strong data security measures. Additionally, there are no specific regulations for part-time work, flexitime, or job sharing, but these can be managed through clear contractual agreements. Equipment and expense reimbursements are at the employer's discretion. Overall, while embracing remote work, Vanuatu faces the need for more specific regulations and best practices, particularly concerning data protection and privacy.

Working Hours in Vanuatu

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Vanuatu's labor laws, primarily governed by the Employment Act No. 12 of 2010, set forth regulations to ensure a balanced work environment. The Act stipulates a standard workweek of 44 hours, averaging 8 hours per day, with the possibility of extending daily hours to 10, provided the total does not exceed 56 hours weekly. Overtime compensation is required when these limits are surpassed, with rates increasing after the first four overtime hours weekly.

Employees are generally entitled to holidays off unless exceptions apply, such as in tourism or essential services, with required compensation for holiday work. The Act also mandates meal and tea breaks for employees working extended hours and ensures a 24-hour rest period weekly, typically on Sunday.

For night and weekend work, while specific regulations are not detailed, general provisions apply, and employers often offer additional compensation or surcharges as incentives. Employers must also consider health and safety risks associated with such schedules.

Overall, Vanuatu's labor framework aims to balance employer needs with employee well-being, requiring adherence to these regulations for compliance and mutual benefit.

Salary in Vanuatu

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Determining a fair and competitive salary in Vanuatu involves understanding market competitiveness, which ensures that compensation packages are attractive and equitable within the job market. Market competitive salaries align with what other employers offer for similar roles, reflecting the value of the position and the qualifications of the employee.

Key factors influencing these salaries in Vanuatu include the complexity of the job, required expertise, scope of responsibilities, candidate's experience, and geographic location. Urban areas like Port Vila often offer higher salaries compared to remote regions. Industry-specific benchmarks and the supply and demand of qualified professionals also play significant roles.

The importance of offering competitive salaries is underscored by its benefits in attracting and retaining talent, enhancing employee morale, and reducing turnover. Vanuatu's labor laws, including the Minimum Wages and Minimum Wages Board Act, set the legal framework for minimum wages, ensuring a baseline income for workers and requiring periodic reviews to adjust wages based on economic factors and cost of living.

Employers in Vanuatu must adhere to these minimum wage standards and are encouraged to offer additional benefits like bonuses and allowances, which vary by employer and may include profit sharing, performance-based bonuses, and allowances for cost of living, housing, meals, education, and transportation.

The Employment Act No. 12 of 2010 governs payroll practices, stipulating the frequency of wage payments and permissible deductions, which include income tax, contributions to the National Provident Fund, and union dues. Employers must provide transparent payslips to ensure employees understand their compensation details.

Termination in Vanuatu

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In Vanuatu, the Employment Act specifies the notice period requirements for terminating employment contracts based on the duration of service. Employees with less than three years of service require three months' notice, while those with three years or more need only 14 days. Probationary periods allow for immediate termination without notice. Notice can be verbal or written, though written is recommended for clarity. Employers may opt to pay in lieu of notice.

Severance pay is mandated for employees terminated due to redundancy, employer's ill-health, or business liquidation, calculated at one month's wage per year of service, with pro-rata for partial years. Expatriates and employees dismissed for misconduct do not receive severance pay.

Termination can be initiated by employers for reasons like redundancy, ill-health, or misconduct, and by employees through resignation or constructive dismissal. Proper documentation and fairness in the termination process are emphasized, along with ensuring all final payments are settled.

Freelancing in Vanuatu

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In Vanuatu, distinguishing between employees and independent contractors is crucial due to the implications for worker rights, benefits, and tax obligations. The Employment Act No. 12 of 2010, along with court rulings, guides this classification, focusing on factors like control, integration, and economic dependence.

Key Differences:

  • Employees are under employer control, integrated into the business, and economically dependent on their employer, receiving regular income and benefits.
  • Independent Contractors maintain independence in their work methods and hours, bear entrepreneurial risks, and handle their own benefits and taxes.

Misclassification can lead to legal issues, including fines and back payments. Independent contractors should use formal contracts to outline work scope, payment terms, and other key elements. They set their own rates and terms, often working in sectors like IT, creative industries, and skilled trades.

Legal and IP Considerations:

  • Independent contractors are generally not covered by the National Provident Fund but can opt for voluntary contributions.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) rights are vital, with ownership depending on contract terms, either as "work made for hire" or retaining freelancer ownership with specific licensing agreements.

Financial Management:

  • Freelancers must manage their tax obligations, with progressive tax rates applying to their business earnings. Accurate record-keeping and consulting tax professionals are recommended.
  • Insurance options like Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance are important, with choices depending on the type of freelance work.

Understanding these aspects helps ensure compliance and protection for both businesses and independent contractors in Vanuatu.

Health & Safety in Vanuatu

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In Vanuatu, the Employment Act No. 12 of 2010 is the principal legislation governing workplace health and safety. It outlines the responsibilities of both employers and employees to maintain a safe working environment. Employers are required to provide a safe workplace, conduct risk assessments, offer necessary training, and consult with employees on safety matters. Employees must take reasonable care of their own and others' safety and cooperate with their employers on health and safety protocols.

The Department of Labour enforces these regulations, conducting workplace inspections to ensure compliance and address any violations with improvement or prohibition notices. Regular inspections, especially in high-risk industries, are crucial for maintaining safety standards.

Workplace accidents must be reported by employers within 48 hours, and the Department of Labour investigates these incidents to determine causes and enforce safety improvements. Employees injured at work may be eligible for compensation under the Workers' Compensation Act, and legal counsel can assist in navigating these claims. Overall, these measures aim to reduce workplace accidents, lower business costs related to these incidents, and promote a positive work culture.

Dispute Resolution in Vanuatu

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Vanuatu's legal system includes mechanisms for resolving workplace disputes through labor courts and arbitration panels. The Magistrates' Courts handle a variety of employment-related disputes, offering a more accessible and affordable option for less complex cases, though they may lack resources for intricate legal issues. For alternative dispute resolution, arbitration panels provide a faster, cost-effective, and confidential method, although they have limited appeal rights.

The system also includes compliance audits and inspections conducted by internal and external entities to ensure adherence to regulations, with varying frequencies based on industry, business size, and compliance history. These audits are crucial for maintaining fair business practices and reducing the risk of penalties.

Additionally, Vanuatu provides protections for whistleblowers through the Ombudsman Act, allowing anonymous reporting and protecting against dismissal, although there are limitations, such as the burden of proof and limited scope for private sector whistleblowers.

Vanuatu is committed to international labor standards, having ratified several key International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions which influence its domestic legislation, including the Employment Act of 2008 and the Trade Union Act of 2014. These laws ensure workers' rights to fair wages, safe working conditions, and collective bargaining, reflecting Vanuatu's dedication to upholding global labor standards.

Cultural Considerations in Vanuatu

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Vanuatu's workplace communication is influenced by its Melanesian culture and Western elements, emphasizing indirectness, formality, and non-verbal cues. Key points include:

  • Indirect Communication: To maintain harmony, critiques are often phrased as suggestions, and disagreements are subtly hinted at, reflecting the cultural value of "kastom."
  • Formality Levels: Initial interactions are formal, using titles like "Mr." or "Ms.," but can become more casual as relationships develop.
  • Non-verbal Cues: Eye contact, body language, and the use of silence play crucial roles in communication. Smiling is common but does not necessarily indicate agreement.
  • Negotiation and Decision-Making: Negotiations focus on building relationships and reaching consensus, respecting hierarchy and cultural norms like gift-giving and reading body language.
  • Hierarchical Business Structure: Businesses operate within a hierarchical system that balances traditional Melanesian leadership with modern practices, affecting decision-making and team dynamics.
  • Public Holidays and Observances: Understanding statutory holidays and regional "kastom" celebrations is essential for smooth business operations, as these can affect work schedules and closures.

Overall, successful interaction in Vanuatu's workplaces requires patience, respect for cultural practices, and an understanding of both verbal and non-verbal communication styles.

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