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Discover everything you need to know about Zambia

Hire in Zambia at a glance

Here ares some key facts regarding hiring in Zambia

Zambian Kwacha
GDP growth
GDP world share
Payroll frequency
Working hours
48 hours/week

Overview in Zambia

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Zambia, a landlocked country in south-central Africa, is bordered by eight countries and features a high plateau and significant river valleys, including those of the Zambezi and Congo rivers. The nation has a tropical climate moderated by altitude and three distinct seasons. Initially inhabited by Khoisan hunter-gatherers and later Bantu-speaking populations, Zambia was under British control as Northern Rhodesia until its independence in 1964. It transitioned from a one-party socialist system to a multi-party democracy with a market-oriented economy in the 1990s.

The country's economy is heavily reliant on copper, making it one of the leading producers globally. Despite this, Zambia faces challenges such as poverty, economic dependence on copper, and the need for diversification. Rapid urbanization and a youthful median age of 17.6 years present both opportunities and challenges in job creation and economic growth.

Zambia's workforce is largely informal, with agriculture being the primary sector, though the service sector and industries like mining and tourism are growing. The country struggles with a skills gap, particularly in technical and vocational fields, and educational attainment levels that do not meet labor market needs.

Culturally, Zambia values community and family, which influences work-life balance and workplace interactions. Respect for hierarchy and seniority characterizes communication and organizational structures, with a preference for indirect communication and formal interactions with superiors.

For effective cross-cultural workplaces, recognizing and integrating Zambian cultural values with global workplace expectations is crucial. This includes respecting hierarchical structures while promoting open communication and flexibility. The economy benefits from both traditional sectors like mining and agriculture and emerging sectors like tourism and technology, with ongoing efforts to diversify and enhance economic stability and job creation.

Taxes in Zambia

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  • Tax Responsibilities for Employers in Zambia: Employers are required to deduct Pay As You Earn (PAYE) from employees' salaries as per the tax tables provided by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), and remit these deductions by the 10th of the following month. They must also pay a Skills Development Levy (SDL) of 0.5% of total gross earnings monthly, which cannot be deducted from employee wages.

  • Contributions to National Schemes: Both employers and employees contribute 5% each (totaling 10%) of the employee's basic salary to the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA). Additionally, each contributes 1% to the National Health Insurance Management Authority (NHIMA) for health insurance benefits.

  • Other Taxes and Levies: Employers might also need to handle Withholding Tax on payments like dividends and royalties, and Property Transfer Tax on property sales. They are also responsible for Value Added Tax (VAT) if providing taxable services, with the standard rate at 16%.

  • Registration and Compliance: Employers must register with ZRA and maintain accurate payroll records. Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties and interest charges.

  • Sector-Specific Incentives: There are various tax incentives for different sectors such as reduced Corporate Income Tax rates for farming, agro-processing, and non-traditional exports, as well as tax holidays and exemptions in sectors like manufacturing, tourism, and mining under the Zambia Development Agency Act.

  • Additional Incentives: These include capital allowances, employment creation incentives, and export incentives, such as exemptions from duties and VAT on imported machinery for non-traditional exporters.

Leave in Zambia

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  • Annual Leave: In Zambia, under the Employment Code Act No. 3 of 2019, Section 37, full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of 24 working days of paid annual leave per year, accruing monthly, after six months of continuous service. Part-time employees receive leave on a pro-rata basis.

  • Payment and Accrual: Employees receive their full basic pay during vacation leave, typically paid before leave starts. Unused leave carries over to the next year by mutual agreement between employer and employee.

  • Scheduling: Vacation leave scheduling is mutually agreed upon, though employers have the final say to align with business operations.

  • Public Holidays: Zambia celebrates various public holidays including New Year's Day, Youth Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Labor Day, Africa Freedom Day, Heroes' Day, Unity Day, Farmers' Day, Independence Day, and Christmas Day. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is observed as a holiday.

  • Other Leave Types:

    • Sick Leave: Entitlement varies by length of service, ranging from none for less than 6 months to up to 28 days for more than a year of service.
    • Maternity Leave: Female employees get 14 weeks of paid leave.
    • Paternity Leave: Male employees receive 5 days of paid leave within 30 days of a child's birth.
    • Compassionate Leave: Up to 3 days of paid leave for the death of a close family member, though not mandated by the Employment Code Act.
  • Additional Leave: Study and unpaid leave may be available based on individual contracts or agreements. Employers are advised to maintain clear leave policies.

Benefits in Zambia

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In Zambia, employment benefits are governed by the Employment Code Act, which mandates employers to provide certain benefits while allowing for optional perks to enhance employee satisfaction and retention.

Mandatory Benefits:

  • Social Security Contributions: Employees in the formal sector must contribute to the National Pension Scheme (NPS), ensuring financial security post-retirement.
  • National Health Insurance: Contributions to the National Health Insurance Management Authority (NHIMA) are required from employers, providing employees with essential healthcare services.
  • Paid Leave: Employees are entitled to paid leave during national public holidays and a minimum of two days of paid annual leave per month. Provisions for paid sick and compassionate leave are also included.
  • Workman's Compensation: Employers must insure employees under the Workman's Compensation Fund Control Board, offering financial support for work-related injuries or death.
  • Gratuity: Upon contract termination or expiry, employees may receive a gratuity, the specifics of which depend on the employment contract and nature of employment.

Optional Benefits:

  • Financial Perks: These may include transportation allowances, private health insurance, optional pension schemes, life insurance, and holiday bonuses.
  • Work-Life Balance Enhancements: Flexible work arrangements and Paid Time Off (PTO) banks are offered by some employers.
  • Health and Wellness: Employers may provide employee discounts, wellness programs, and subsidized gym memberships.

Health Insurance Specifics:

  • Mandatory NHIMA: Both employers and employees contribute 1% of the basic salary to NHIMA, which covers a comprehensive healthcare package across various accredited facilities.
  • Optional Private Health Insurance: This acts as a supplement to NHIMA, offering access to a broader range of healthcare providers and additional services.

Retirement Savings:

  • Mandatory Public Scheme (NPS): A combined 15% contribution from both employee (8%) and employer (7%) goes into the NPS, managed by the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA).
  • Optional Private Pension Plans: These allow for additional voluntary contributions with potentially higher returns, though they come with associated investment risks and management fees.

Overall, Zambia provides a robust framework for employee benefits, blending mandatory provisions with optional enhancements to cater to diverse employee needs.

Workers Rights in Zambia

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In Zambia, employment termination is governed by the Employment Code Act, which allows for termination based on misconduct, incapacity, or operational requirements. The Act specifies minimum notice periods ranging from 24 hours to 30 days based on the duration of the contract. Severance pay is mandated for redundancy, calculated based on the length of service.

The Zambian legal framework also emphasizes anti-discrimination, with laws protecting against discrimination on various grounds including race, gender, and religion, among others. Employers are required to promote equal opportunity and address any discrimination within the workplace.

Regarding working conditions, the Employment Code Act sets standards for work hours and rest periods, limiting work to eight hours per day and 48 hours per week, with mandated rest breaks. The Factories Act contributes to workplace safety, indirectly addressing ergonomic needs.

Health and safety regulations are outlined in several acts including the Employment Code Act, the Factories Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. These laws compel employers to ensure a safe working environment, conduct risk assessments, and report accidents. Employees have rights to a safe workplace, necessary training, and can refuse unsafe work.

Enforcement of these regulations is managed by the Department of Occupational Health and Safety, which has the authority to inspect workplaces and enforce compliance.

Agreements in Zambia

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Zambia's employment law recognizes various types of employment contracts, each tailored to different work arrangements. These include:

  • Permanent Employment Contracts: These contracts are ongoing without a predetermined end date. Termination can occur through retirement, resignation, dismissal with or without cause, or mutual consent.

  • Fixed-Term Contracts: These contracts have a specified duration, generally not exceeding two years but can be renewed up to four years. If employment continues beyond this without renewal, the contract becomes permanent.

  • Probationary Contracts: Used to assess suitability for a permanent role, these contracts last up to three months for most positions and six months for senior roles, with shorter termination notice periods.

  • Part-Time Contracts: Employees work fewer hours than full-time, with benefits proportional to hours worked.

  • Casual Employment: This involves short-term, irregular work without guaranteed hours or benefits.

The Zambian legal system accepts both written and oral contracts, though written ones are recommended for clarity and enforceability. Employment agreements should clearly outline identification of parties, remuneration and benefits, job duties, working hours, leave entitlements, termination clauses, and dispute resolution methods. The Employment Act guides these agreements, emphasizing fair treatment and non-discrimination, especially during probationary periods. Confidentiality and non-compete clauses are also significant, though their enforceability can vary, with non-compete clauses being particularly challenging to enforce. Employers are advised to consult legal professionals to ensure compliance with Zambian labor laws.

Remote Work in Zambia

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Remote work in Zambia, while not explicitly regulated by law, has become increasingly popular. The Employment Act and Public Health Act provide a general framework but do not specifically address remote work, allowing employers flexibility in policy creation. Key considerations for remote work include establishing a robust technological infrastructure with reliable internet, effective communication tools, and strong cybersecurity measures. Employers are responsible for creating clear remote work policies, providing necessary equipment, ensuring employee health and safety, and offering training for remote work competencies.

Additionally, flexible work arrangements like part-time work, flexitime, and job sharing are recognized under Zambian law, though specifics may vary and are often based on mutual agreements within employment contracts. Employers may also need to consider equipment and expense reimbursements based on the nature of the work and company policies.

Data protection and privacy have become critical, with employers needing to implement strong data security protocols and ensure employees are trained in cybersecurity best practices. Employees have rights to privacy and data protection, and both parties must adhere to best practices for data security to prevent breaches.

Working Hours in Zambia

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In Zambia, the Employment Act and related regulations govern standard working hours, setting a daily maximum of eight hours and a weekly maximum of 48 hours, with exceptions for certain professions and shop workers who have a 45-hour weekly limit. Flexible work arrangements are permitted if they adhere to these limits. Overtime is compensated at a rate of 150% of the normal hourly wage and is calculated based on the employee's standard hourly rate. The Employment Code Act of 2019 mandates daily and weekly rest periods, with specific provisions for nursing mothers and flexible working hours. Night shifts and weekend work must also comply with standard hour limitations, and any work beyond these limits should be compensated as overtime. Employers are encouraged to ensure safe working practices and consider employee well-being in scheduling to prevent excessive overtime and ensure productivity.

Salary in Zambia

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Determining competitive salaries in Zambia involves multiple factors and resources. Organizations like Payscale and Grant Thornton provide valuable salary surveys, while job platforms and professional networks offer insights into current trends. Key factors influencing salaries include job title, skills, location, industry, company size, and educational qualifications. Negotiation is crucial, leveraging market value knowledge to secure fair compensation. Additionally, the cost of living and benefits, including health insurance and paid leave, play significant roles in the overall compensation package. Understanding Zambia's payroll practices, including payment methods, statutory deductions, and payroll processing timelines, is essential for both employers and employees. Resources like the Employment Code Act of 2019 and the Zambia Revenue Authority provide guidelines on employment and tax regulations.

Termination in Zambia

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In Zambia, the Employment Code Act No. 3 of 2019 sets the regulations for notice periods and severance pay during employment termination. Here are the key points:

  • Minimum Notice Periods:

    • 24 hours for contracts up to one month.
    • 14 days for contracts over one month but under three months.
    • 30 days for contracts over three months.
    • Written notice is required for contracts over six months.
  • Exceptions to Notice Periods:

    • Immediate dismissal is allowed for serious misconduct, incompetence, or willful neglect of duty.
  • Payment in Lieu of Notice:

    • Employers may choose to pay wages equivalent to the notice period instead of actual notice.
  • Severance Pay:

    • Entitled to employees on indefinite contracts terminated due to redundancy and to those on fixed-term contracts, depending on the length of service.
    • Calculated as two months of basic pay per year of service for indefinite contracts, and a minimum of 25% of basic pay for fixed-term contracts.
    • Must be paid upon termination or as specified in the contract.
  • Types of Termination:

    • Mutual agreement with recommended written terms.
    • Summary dismissal for gross misconduct without notice.
  • General Termination Procedures:

    • Written notice as per the Act or contract, except for summary dismissal.
    • Opportunity for the employee to respond to accusations.
    • Documentation of the termination process.
    • Final payments including all dues and a certificate of service.
  • Additional Considerations:

    • Disputes can be addressed to the Labor Commissioner or the Industrial Relations Court.
    • Employment contracts must not provide less favorable conditions than the Act.

This Act ensures that employment terminations are handled fairly and legally, protecting both employer and employee rights.

Freelancing in Zambia

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In Zambia, distinguishing between an employee and an independent contractor is essential due to its implications on rights, benefits, and obligations under employment law. While the Employment Code Act does not define "employee," it outlines an "employment contract" and uses a multi-factorial test to determine the relationship nature, considering control, integration, economic dependence, and equipment provision.

Key Differences:

  • Control: Employees are under the employer's control regarding work execution, unlike independent contractors who maintain autonomy.
  • Integration: Employees are integral to the organization's structure, whereas contractors provide auxiliary services.
  • Economic Dependence: Employees depend primarily on their employer for income, contrasting with contractors who work with multiple clients.
  • Equipment and Tools: Employers provide necessary tools for employees, while contractors use their own.

Legal Implications:

  • Misclassification of employees as contractors can lead to legal penalties and claims for unpaid benefits. Proper classification ensures compliance with labor laws and protects both parties' rights.

Contracting in Zambia:

  • Independent contractors should have well-defined contracts detailing scope of work, payment terms, confidentiality, and termination clauses. Negotiation skills are crucial, focusing on market rates, value proposition, scope creep, and favorable payment terms.

Industries and IP Ownership:

  • Independent contracting is common in IT, creative industries, marketing, and professional services. Typically, freelancers own the intellectual property (IP) they create unless otherwise stated in a contract.

Tax and Insurance:

  • Freelancers must register for income tax if they meet certain thresholds and explore insurance options like health, professional indemnity, and life insurance for financial security.


  • Freelancers should consult with legal and tax professionals to understand their rights, obligations, and ensure proper contract terms, especially concerning IP ownership and tax obligations.

Health & Safety in Zambia

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  • Zambia's Health and Safety Legislation: Zambia's primary health and safety laws include the Occupational Health and Safety Act (No. 36 of 2010) and the Factories Act (Chapter 441). The Occupational Health and Safety Act focuses on creating a safe work environment, establishing health and safety committees, and protecting all persons at work, including those not directly employed. The Factories Act regulates factory conditions, emphasizing cleanliness, fire safety, and machinery safety.

  • Additional Legislation and Frameworks: Other relevant laws include The Public Health Act, The Environmental Management Act, and The Workers' Compensation Act, along with sector-specific regulations. Standards such as ISO 45001:2018 also guide occupational health and safety management.

  • Enforcement and Compliance: The Occupational Health and Safety Institute (OHSI) enforces these laws, with powers to inspect workplaces, issue notices, and initiate legal actions against non-compliance.

  • Hazard Prevention and Control: This includes ensuring machine safety, chemical handling, and fire safety measures. The Factories Act mandates training for machine operators and proper handling and storage of hazardous chemicals.

  • Occupational Health Focus: Areas of focus include preventing noise-induced hearing loss, musculoskeletal disorders, and addressing mental health in the workplace through various programs and assessments.

  • Emergency Preparedness: Employers must have adequate first aid facilities and emergency plans covering potential workplace incidents like fires and chemical spills.

  • Challenges and Improvements: Despite robust frameworks, challenges such as compliance in the informal sector, limited resources, and the need for more OHS professionals persist. Continuous adaptation of OHS standards is necessary to meet evolving industrial needs.

  • Inspection and Compliance: OHSI conducts routine, special, and follow-up inspections based on various criteria and workplace risk levels. Inspection procedures include meetings, walkthroughs, and examinations.

  • Accident Reporting and Investigation: Employers are responsible for reporting workplace accidents to OHSI and the Workers' Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB). Investigations aim to prevent future incidents by identifying root causes.

  • Workers' Compensation: The Workers' Compensation Act provides no-fault compensation for work-related injuries or diseases, covering medical expenses and disability benefits. Employers must facilitate the claims process and ensure insurance coverage.

  • Prevention of Workplace Accidents: Emphasis is placed on proactive hazard identification, worker training, and fostering a safety-conscious workplace culture to prevent accidents.

Dispute Resolution in Zambia

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Zambia's labor laws feature specialized courts and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms, including Labor Courts and Arbitration Panels, to handle workplace conflicts and protect workers' rights. These systems are structured under the Industrial and Labor Relations Act (ILRA) and cater to various labor-related disputes through a formal process involving complaint filing, conciliation, hearings, and binding judgments or awards. Additionally, Zambia conducts compliance audits and inspections across various sectors to ensure adherence to legal and regulatory standards, with specific processes for planning, on-site review, and corrective actions.

The country also provides protections for whistleblowers under the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act, 2010, safeguarding their identity and shielding them from retaliation. Furthermore, Zambia has ratified several International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, reinforcing its commitment to international labor standards concerning freedom of association, collective bargaining, forced labor, child labor, and discrimination.

Despite these frameworks, Zambia faces challenges such as limited enforcement resources, a substantial informal sector, and issues with child labor and migrant worker exploitation, which hinder full compliance with international labor standards.

Cultural Considerations in Zambia

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  • Indirect Communication: Zambians prefer indirect communication, using respectful phrasing to maintain social harmony, a concept rooted in the philosophy of Ubuntu. Directness increases with familiarity and urgency, but respect remains crucial.

  • Formality and Hierarchy: The workplace is hierarchical, with communication reflecting respect for superiors. Formality varies by industry, with traditional companies being more formal. Titles are important and used until a more informal relationship is established.

  • Non-Verbal Cues: Non-verbal communication, such as eye contact, nodding, and smiling, is significant in conveying respect and building trust. Silence is used for reflection and is not necessarily a sign of disagreement.

  • Relationship Building: Establishing trust and rapport is prioritized before business dealings, in line with the Ubuntu philosophy. Negotiations are collaborative, aiming for mutually beneficial outcomes.

  • Patience in Negotiations: Negotiations involve indirect communication and strategic concessions, focusing on less critical aspects to leverage core interests. Patience is essential due to the extended discussions.

  • Respect and Harmony: Maintaining respect and avoiding public humiliation are paramount. Elders or senior members often have significant influence in negotiations.

  • Power Distance: Zambia has a high Power Distance Index, indicating acceptance of clear hierarchies and authority, consistent with Ubuntu values.

  • Centralized Decision-Making: Decision-making is typically centralized at the senior management level, though lower levels may be consulted.

  • Team Dynamics: Communication within teams is respectful, with limited upward communication to avoid confrontation, reflecting the concept of "chitakumusha."

  • Leadership Styles: Leaders often display command-and-control or paternalistic styles, expecting adherence and acting as mentors.

  • Cultural and Statutory Observances: Understanding Zambia's cultural calendar, including national holidays like Africa Day, Heroes' and Unity Day, Independence Day, and Christmas, is crucial for business operations. These observances can affect business activities, requiring consideration of local and regional traditions.

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