New language requirements for expatriates are expected to come into force in around February/March 2015.

The Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Regulation No. 12 of 2013 on the Procedure to Employ Foreign Workers (“Reg 12”) imposes requirements on expatriates to have Indonesian language proficiency. Article 26 paragraphs (1 d) and (2) of Reg 12 in essence states that unless the relevant expatriate performs a board role, all applicants for work permits (ie expatriates) must be able to communicate in the Indonesian language.

As yet, there is no detailed information available about how the proposed restriction will be implemented and what the threshold will be in assessing expatriates’ level of proficiency in communicating in the Indonesian language. Based on our discussions with our contact at the Ministry of Manpower, however, it may be the case that the Ministry of Manpower will require applicants to pass certain tests (eg TOEFL equivalent) in order to be considered as having the necessary ability. The Ministry of Manpower may also amend some of the provisions of Reg 12 to provide clarity on this language proficiency requirement.

Actions for employers

There is uncertainty until the implementing regulation on the proposed Indonesian language proficiency is issued by the government. In the meantime, expatriates, particularly those performing non-board roles, may wish to consider taking an intensive Indonesian language course at a reputable training provider.