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Which issues would you most highlight to someone new to your country?
Generally speaking, Angola’s government institutions can be considered bureaucratic. This tends to result in difficulties regarding the processes and requests that are dependent on their approval, which in turn leads to delays and cumbersome procedures. The labour authorities are particularly active in enforcing the complex administrative and reporting requirements established by national employment law.
In addition, employment litigation is common in Angola, as:
- employees are litigious and enjoy a broad set of rights; and
- unions are particularly active in certain sectors.
The courts are not as sophisticated as desired. Further, they are often delayed in taking actions and decisions and tend to protect employees’ claims.
Another major challenge is Angola’s lack of foreign currency. This is due to the oil crisis that has affected the country in recent years and its impact on the economy and the financial sector. Companies have faced difficulties in importing goods and accessing US dollars to build their business or pay foreign employees, while national employees are faced with the rising value of the kwanza. These constraints are particularly relevant for foreign companies.
What do you consider unique to those doing business in your country?
Angola has foreign investment rules which impact employment relationships. Under the existing private investment rules, foreign investors that intend to undertake commercial or business activities in Angola must first submit a private investment project, which must be approved by the relevant authorities. In addition, foreign investors entering the Angolan market must clearly and primarily assess whether any local shareholding obligations which may affect their business structure apply in the sector of interest.
From an immigration perspective, the so-called ‘Angolanisation’ principle (or ‘70/30’ rule) – under which at least 70% of the workforce of a company that employs more than five workers must be Angolan nationals – is relevant.
Finally, the complexity of the Angolan foreign exchange regulations should also be highlighted, given the strong impact that they have on all business structures.
Is there any general advice you would give in the employment area?
Angolan employment law offers special protection to employees, which allows the General Labour Inspectorate and some unions to be active in protecting employees’ rights. Therefore, companies must meet the labour requirements in order to enter the country. Further, on a day-to-day basis, companies must be aware of their administrative and reporting duties in order to avoid exposure to fines and employee claims.
Emerging issues/hot topics/proposals for reform
Are there any noteworthy proposals for reform in your jurisdiction?
Angolan employment law has been significantly reformed in the past two years, notably through the entry into force of:
- the new General Labour Law (7/15) on June 15 2015; and
- the new framework on the recruitment and hiring of non-resident employees in 2017.
As far as is known, there are no noteworthy proposals for further reform of the employment law in the immediate future. However, reforming the country’s employment legislation has been a priority.
What are the emerging trends in employment law in your jurisdiction?
A recent employment law trend is the distinction between micro, small, medium and large-sized companies. Since 2015 (when the new General Labour Law entered into force), legal statutes have tended to differentiate rules according to company size. The law states that micro, small and medium-sized companies are subject to more flexible employment rules and more efficient and cost-effective employment standards than large-sized companies. For example, micro, small and medium-sized companies may enter into fixed-term employment contracts with a maximum duration of 10 years, whereas for large-sized companies, the maximum duration of a contract is five years.
Another hot topic (although not exactly a trend) in Angolan employment law concerns the obligation to pay employee salaries in kwanzas. This obligation was recently changed for foreign non-resident employees, but the restriction remains for Angolan nationals and foreign resident employees who, by law, cannot receive their salary in a different currency.
The employment relationship
Country specific laws
What laws and regulations govern the employment relationship?
The employment relationship in Angola is governed by:
- the Constitution and any international conventions to which Angola is a party;
- the General Labour Law (7/2015) of June 15 2015, which is the main statute governing all aspects of employment relationships in Angola;
- Decree 43/17 of March 6 2017 (substantially amended by Presidential Decree 79/2017 of April 24 2017), which governs the recruitment and hiring of foreign non-resident employees;
- the Visa Law (2/2007) of August 31 2007;
- the collective labour laws, such as:
- the Law on the Right to Collective Bargaining (20-A/1992) of August 14 1992;
- the Trade Union Law (21-D/1992) of August 28 1992;
- the Strike Law (23/1991) of June 15 1991; and
- the collective bargaining instruments, individual agreements and labour customs of each profession, sector or company; and
- the laws governing health and safety in the workplace – notably, Decree 31/1994 of August 5 1994 and Executive Decree 6/1996 of February 1 1996.
Who do these cover, including categories of worker?
Generally speaking, all employees are protected by Angola’s labour laws. Nonetheless, some employees are excluded from the scope of the General Labour Law, such as:
- employees hired on a permanent basis by the diplomatic or consular representatives of other countries, or at the service of international organisations, who perform their activities within the scope of the Vienna Convention;
- members of cooperatives and non-government organisations whose employment is regulated by the organisation’s articles of association or, where none exist, the Commercial Law;
- family employees;
- occasional workers;
- consultants and members of the administration or directorship bodies of companies or social organisations, provided that they undertake tasks that are inherent to such positions only, without any subordination pursuant to an employment contract; and
- public servants or employees performing their professional activity within a public, central or local administration, public institution or government agency.
In addition, specific regulations apply to certain types of employee, such as domestic employees.
The main distinguishing factor for Angolan employees, besides the type of employment agreement entered into, is nationality, as specific legal provisions apply to foreign employees. Angolan labour law sets out two categories of employee:
- national and foreign-resident employees; and
- foreign non-resident or expatriate employees, who are subject to complex immigration restrictions and specific recruitment and hiring rules.
Are there specific rules regarding employee/contractor classification?
Article 3.3 of the General Labour Law defines an ‘employee’ as “any natural person, national or foreign resident, who freely undertakes to make his professional activity available to an employer, in consideration for remuneration, within the employer’s organization and under its authority and guidance”.
Under Article 3.27 of the General Labour Law, an employment contract exists where “an employee undertakes to make available his professional activity to an employer’s benefit, within its relevant organization and under its guidance and authority, in consideration for remuneration”.
By contrast, self-employed individuals (ie, contractors) enter into ‘service agreements’, which are defined as agreements “whereby one of the parties undertakes to make available the result of his/her intellectual or manual work, with or without pay” (Article 1154 of the Civil Code). Self-employed employees can claim that they are employees who are bound by an employment agreement if they can prove some factors that are inherent to an employment relationship (eg, where they have a working time schedule and receive orders and instructions from the employer and the employer has disciplinary power). This classification depends on many factors, which are frequently adjusted by case law.
Must an employment contract be in writing?
Employment contracts do not have to be in writing. However, some types of contract must be in writing.
Are any terms implied into employment contracts?
Yes, some terms are implied into employment contracts. All employment relationships implicitly include the employer’s obligation to provide work, pay for the work and provide a safe working environment for employees. As for employees, every employment agreement implies that they must carry out the relevant work and be loyal to their employer.
In addition, employment agreements are always subject to an implied probation period, unless the parties reduce or exclude it in writing.
The General Labour Law provides supplementary rules which govern employment agreements.
Are mandatory arbitration/dispute resolution agreements enforceable?
Under Angolan law, mandatory arbitration and dispute resolution agreements are unenforceable.
Under the employment litigation procedural rules, a conciliation phase must take place before a claim is discussed in a judgment hearing, which may constitute:
- conciliation before the Public Attorney’s Office;
- mediation before the General Labour Inspectorate; or
- voluntary arbitration.
How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?
In principle, any change to an employment agreement requires mutual consent between the employer and employee. However, the law recognises an employer’s right, in certain cases, to regulate and amend some aspects of the performance of work (eg, the working schedule and workplace) unilaterally, provided that the law is complied with.
The most common mechanisms for changing an employment contract’s terms and conditions are:
- a unilateral decision by the employer’s management (where applicable and to the extent possible);
- employee consent (eg, through an addendum to the employment agreement); and
- variation clauses in the employment agreement that allow the employer to make the change unilaterally.
As regards generally changing the terms and conditions of an employment contract, there are only limited situations in which employees’ salaries and other employment benefits can be reduced without consent.
Is a distinction drawn between local and foreign workers?
Angolan law draws a clear distinction between:
- national employees and foreign employees residing in Angola; and
- foreign non-resident employees.
Although national and foreign non-resident employees are subject to Angolan labour law, the latter are subject to complex immigration restrictions and specific recruitment and hiring rules.
All employees working in Angola must have the right to do so. This may entail obtaining a visa or work permit, which can be obtained only under an employment agreement with a company based in Angola (or a registered branch or the equivalent).
What are the requirements relating to advertising positions?
There are no specific rules governing the advertising of positions in Angola. Nonetheless, in compliance with the constitutional equality principle and non-discrimination rules, such ads cannot include discriminatory criteria or conditions, such as age, nationality, race, gender, physical appearance or religion.
If a role requires a foreign non-resident to work in the petroleum industry, it must be referred to the competent employment centre and advertised in the media. In such cases, the offer must describe the required skills, educational and professional qualifications and certifications in order to demonstrate to the employment centre that no Angolan nationals are suitable for the job.
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries in relation to the following:
(a) Criminal records?
For anti-discriminatory reasons, criminal record checks are permitted only for specific positions (eg, security staff, people working with vulnerable individuals or regulated roles in the financial sector). The treatment of such information is protected under the Data Protection Law. Employers cannot demand this information from job applicants and only an employee can obtain his or her criminal reports from the relevant authorities.
Criminal records should be requested from foreign non-resident employees, as a clean criminal record is legally required for such employees.
(b) Medical history?
Medical examinations are mandatory for job applicants under 18 years old. Job applicants over the age of 18 do not need to undertake a medical examination.
However, from a personal data standpoint, the results of medical examinations are deemed to be sensitive. Thus, an authorisation from the Data Protection Authority is required in order to allow employers to collect a job applicant’s data. Further, the job applicant must consent to such a medical examination.
In any case, after an employee has been hired, a medical examination must be carried out by an occupational doctor in order to ascertain whether he or she is fit to perform the role.
(c) Drug screening?
As a rule, drug screening is prohibited in Angola and there are no rules governing the matter.
(d) Credit checks?
Credit checks are prohibited, as they deal with privileged personal data.
(e) Immigration status?
Employers must ensure that applicants are allowed to work in Angola and hold a legitimate title to do so (ie, a visa or work permit), as hiring illegal immigrants is a crime.
(f) Social media?
This type of background check is not specifically regulated. In principle, researching candidates via social media is not prohibited by law, provided that the information is retrieved from freely accessible public sources.
Wages and working time
Is there a national minimum wage and, if so, what is it?
As of June 7 2017, the universal minimum wage is Kz16,503.30 and the minimum wage for each economic sector is as follows:
- the trade and extractive economic sector – Kz24,754.95;
- the transport, services and manufacturing sectors – Kz20,629.13; and
- the agriculture sector – Kz16,503.30.
Are there restrictions on working hours?
Angolan law contains many restrictions on working hours. Working time is defined by day, week or year.
As a rule, the regular maximum working hour limits are eight hours a day and 44 hours a week. The weekly limit may be extended to 54 hours for shift, modular or variable working hours where:
- a recovery timetable applies;
- the work is intermittent; or
- the employee's sole presence is required.
The daily work limits may also be extended to:
- nine hours a day when:
- the work is intermittent or requires the sole presence of the employee; and
- the employer limits the working week to five consecutive days;
- 10 hours a day when:
- the work is intermittent or requires the sole presence of the employee; and
- the employer adopts shift, modular or variable working hours or a recovery timetable applies; and
- 12 hours a day for rotational work timetables of up to four weeks of consecutive work followed by an equal period of rest.
Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?
Employees are entitled to a break of between 45 and 90 minutes every five hours.
Further, employees are entitled to one full rest day a week, which, as a rule, must be a Sunday. The weekly rest period cannot be shorter than 24 consecutive hours, which normally starts at midnight on the relevant rest day. The half rest day resulting from the distribution of the weekly work schedule over five-and-a-half days is considered a complementary weekly rest period. The period of complementary weekly rest must, whenever possible, immediately precede or follow the weekly rest period.
How should overtime be calculated?
Employees working over the regular working time limits are, as a rule, entitled to overtime. Overtime is limited to:
- two hours a day;
- 40 hours a month; and
- 200 hours a year.
Up until 30 hours a month, overtime pay is calculated as follows based on the employee’s hourly rate:
- an additional 50% for large-sized companies;
- an additional 30% for medium-sized companies;
- an additional 20% for small-sized companies; and
- an additional 10% for micro companies.
Overtime exceeding the limit of 30 hours a month is calculated as follows based on the employee’s hourly rate:
- an additional 75% for large-sized companies;
- an additional 45% for medium-sized companies;
- an additional 20% for small-sized companies; and
- an additional 10% for micro companies.
Overtime is based on the employee’s hourly salary and calculated as follows: monthly base salary multiplied by weekly work schedule.
The employer must keep an accurate record of the employee’s working hours.
What exemptions are there from overtime?
Employees who are exempt from the working time limits are not entitled to overtime pay, except if working on rest days or bank holidays. However, as a rule, they will receive a monthly allowance for such exemption.
Is there a minimum paid holiday entitlement?
As a rule, employees are entitled to 22 paid working days of annual leave a year in addition to bank holidays. Employees are also entitled to a holiday allowance corresponding to 50% of their base salary.
What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?
On termination, an employer must pay the employee:
- his or her final salary;
- any accrued credits (eg, overtime pay); and
- final salary credits arising from the termination.
This last category includes:
- untaken holidays and the corresponding holiday allowance;
- compensation for the holidays that would have accrued in the following year if the employment agreement had not been terminated (calculated in proportion to the execution of the employment agreement in the termination year) and the corresponding holiday allowance; and
- a Christmas allowance proportional to the execution of the employment agreement in the termination year.
Before termination, deductions from wages are restricted under Angolan law and can occur only in certain situations. Even where deductions from wages are legally permitted, they cannot exceed 25% of the employee’s net salary.
The salaries paid to employees in Angola are subject to income-related tax (IRT) and social security contributions. The IRT rates are progressive depending on the salary amount, with the highest rate being 17%. Social security contributions are shared between the employer (8%) and the employee (3%). Employee’s contributions are withheld by the employer (ie, deducted from the employee’s monthly salary) and paid to the Social Security Administration. Expatriate employees do not have to pay Angolan social security contributions if they can prove to the local social security authority that they are covered by their home country’s system.
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?
Employers must provide employees with a payslip each month, including a final payslip on termination of their employment agreement. Tax and social security payment forms must also be kept on file.
Discrimination, harassment & family leave
What is the position in relation to:
Age-based discrimination is prohibited under Angolan law, unless there is a justification for such distinction. This will apply in cases of employment agreements with minors (aged between 14 and 18 years old).
Minors benefit from additional protection regarding:
- the type of work that they may carry out;
- the medical examinations to which they can be subject;
- their work schedule (ie, no more than 34 hours a week);
- overtime; and
- the termination of their employment agreement (intervention by the General Labour Inspectorate is required).
Race-based discrimination is prohibited under Angolan law.
Disability-based discrimination is prohibited under Angolan law. In light of their disability, such persons are entitled to some rights and special protections regarding:
- the type of work that they may carry out;
- their work schedule (which will ideally be part time);
- overtime; and
Gender-based discrimination is prohibited under Angolan law.
(e) Sexual orientation?
Angolan law, including the General Labour Law and the Constitution, provides no rules regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Religion-based discrimination is prohibited under Angolan law.
Discrimination based on medical needs is prohibited under Angolan law.
The following categories are also protected under Angolan law:
- political or ideological convictions;
- economic situation or social status;
- marital status;
- union representation and activities;
- ethnic traditions; and
Family and medical leave
What is the position in relation to family and medical leave?
Female employees are entitled to three consecutive months’ paid maternity leave equal to 100% of their salary and an extra four weeks’ leave in the case of a multiple birth. Where the company has no daycare services on its premises, maternity leave may be extended by up to four weeks, on communication to the employer, without payment of salary.
Employees on maternity leave are entitled to remuneration from their employer, which will subsequently be reimbursed by the Social Security Administration.
Male employees are unentitled to parental leave. Fathers are entitled to only one day of absence for the birth of each child.
Medium and large-sized companies must pay the full base salary of employees on medical leave for the first two months of absence. From the third to the 12th month of absence, they must pay the employee 50% of the base salary until the relevant social protection entity takes over. Micro and small-sized companies must pay the employee 50% of the base salary for 90 days.
An employee is entitled to up to eight days’ paid family leave a year to assist parents and children aged up to 18 years.
What is the position in relation to harassment?
Angolan law does not cover harassment. However, under the General Labour Law, employees are entitled to be treated with consideration, dignity and respect and employers have a duty to promote good working relationships in the workplace.
What is the position in relation to whistleblowing?
Angolan law does not cover whistleblowing.
Privacy in the workplace
Privacy and monitoring
What are employees’ rights with regard to privacy and monitoring?
Angolan employment law includes no specific provisions regarding privacy and monitoring. However, the Constitution provides that private means of communications (including emails) cannot be accessed without a judicial order to that effect.
Pursuant to the General Labour Law, employees have the right to be treated with consideration and respect. It is commonly accepted that this includes respect with regard to their private lives and personal communications (even if those communications are received through tools provided by the employer).
To what extent can employers regulate off-duty conduct?
No specific provisions govern this matter. However, as a rule, off-duty conduct cannot be regulated by the employer in light of employees’ constitutional right to privacy. Nonetheless, certain off-duty conduct on the part of the employee may influence the company’s activity and the employment agreement. For instance, if the employee reveals confidential information, even when off-duty, the company can take disciplinary action against the employee.
Are there rules protecting social media passwords in the employment context and/or on employer monitoring of employee social media accounts?
There are no rules governing these matters. Nonetheless, general principles – such as an individual’s constitutional right to privacy, dignity and integrity – prohibit employers from accessing employees’ social media accounts without authorisation.
Trade secrets and restrictive covenants
Who owns IP rights created by employees during the course of their employment?
‘Copyright’ comprises both moral and economic rights. The copyright in works created under an employment contract will belong to the natural or legal person to which the production owes its origin (ie, the employer). In relation to industrial property rights (ie, patents, utility models and industrial designs), the right to apply for a patent for an invention made under a contract belongs to the employer. However:
- the application to register the patent must be filed in Angola;
- the employer must file a declaration supporting its right; and
- the inventor (ie, the employee) must be identified on the patent registration form.
The right to apply for a patent for an invention created in the course of an employment contract belongs exclusively to the employee if the invention was developed with the employee’s own equipment, materials or means.
If both the employer and the employee have contributed to the invention equally, they will both own the invention, unless agreed otherwise between the parties. In such cases, the employer has the right to use or develop the invention and the employee has the right to remuneration, as agreed between the parties. However, the employer must use the patent within one year of registration – otherwise, the employee will be considered the sole owner of the patent.
What types of restrictive covenants are recognised and enforceable?
The following restrictive covenants are generally admitted:
- non-compete clauses; and
- confidentiality obligations.
Non-solicitation agreements with other companies are expressly forbidden.
Are there any special rules on non-competes for particular classes of employee?
With the employee’s consent, it is possible to establish a non-compete obligation for up to three years following termination, provided that:
- the non-compete clause is included in a written employment agreement or an addendum thereto;
- the activity in question may cause real damage to the employer and is deemed unfair competition; and
- the employee is paid compensation during the restricted period, the amount of which is stated in the agreement or an addendum thereto.
Discipline and grievance procedures
Are there specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance procedures?
The General Labour Law includes specific rules regarding disciplinary procedures brought against employees. Disciplinary penalties include:
- verbal warnings;
- registered warnings;
- temporary salary reductions; and
- disciplinary dismissals.
For temporary salary reductions and disciplinary dismissals, a proper procedure must be followed, which includes a disciplinary interview and the communication of a final decision.
No specific grievance procedure exists.
Unions and layoffs
Is your country (or a particular area) known to be heavily unionised?
Unions are intended to play a key role in Angolan employment law, as they have the power to appoint representatives within an organisation and negotiate collective bargaining agreements. Nonetheless, there has generally been a low level of employee unionisation in sectors other than the oil and gas, mining and banking sectors. In these industry sectors, unions are consistently active.
What are the rules on trade union recognition?
The Constitution recognises the freedom of association in order to defend the individual and collective interests of employees. However, the Trade Union Law sets out no rules or procedures for union recognition by employers.
As soon as a union has been incorporated and registered with the Ministry of Justice and affiliated its employees, it may represent its members. The law sets out no minimum or maximum percentage of employees’ representation.
What are the rules on collective bargaining?
Collective bargaining exists at the company or group level and such agreements are negotiated between the company and the trade union entity or an ad hoc committee (where the company has no union structure implemented).
A collective bargaining agreement binds the company and employees that concluded it – regardless of their hiring dates – except where expressly provided otherwise in the agreement.
Where a collective bargaining agreement is concluded, the terms and conditions of employment cannot be undermined by an individual employment agreement unless the latter establishes more favourable conditions.
Are employers required to give notice of termination?
As a rule, permanent employment agreements cannot be terminated by simply giving notice to the employee. Terminations must follow the proper procedure, which is strictly regulated by the General Labour Law.
However, for fixed-term employment agreements (with a term greater than three months), the employer must give the employee 15 working days’ notice before the agreement expires.
Further, in case of a redundancy procedure, the employee must be given 30 or 60 days’ notice, depending on whether the dismissal will impact less or more than 20 employees, respectively.
Termination during a trial period does not require notice.
What are the rules that govern redundancy procedures?
Redundancy procedures (ie, terminations for business-related reasons based on market, structural or technological grounds) must follow a complex procedure, which will differ depending on whether the redundancy impacts more or less than 20 employees. This procedure includes notifying the General Labour Inspectorate and providing a written explanation to the employees of the reasons for the redundancy and the selection criteria.
Employees dismissed under redundancy procedures are entitled to compensation, the amount of which will depend on both the employee’s length of service and the company’s size.
Are there particular rules for collective redundancies/mass layoffs?
Collective redundancies (ie, dismissals of more than 20 employees based on market, structural or technological reasons) must follow a procedure almost identical to that for individual redundancies. The main difference is that the General Labour Inspectorate has 22 working days to perform any due diligence or investigation, as opposed to the 15 working days required for individual redundancies.
Another difference is the notice period that must be given to employees, which is:
- 60 days in collective redundancies; and
- 30 days in individual redundancies.
What protections do employees have on dismissal?
Angolan law protects employment stability and thus prohibits dismissals without cause (whether subjective or objective).
In case of unlawful dismissal, employees may claim:
- damages caused by the dismissal;
- reinstatement in the company;
- the salary accrued between the termination date and the date in which the employee was hired by another company, capped at up to six months, depending on the size of the company; and
- compensation, the amount of which will depend on the company’s size and the employee’s length of service, in cases where reinstatement is impossible or the employee refuses to be reinstated.
Some categories of employee have special protection against dismissal – namely:
- pregnant employees;
- new mothers (up until one year after childbirth);
- union or former union representatives;
- former combatants; and
- employees with reduced capacity equal or superior to 20%.
The General Labour Inspectorate’s approval may be required in some cases.
Jurisdiction and procedure
Which tribunals or courts have jurisdiction to hear complaints?
Labour disputes fall under the jurisdiction of the competent provincial labour courts.
What is the procedure and typical timescale?
Before filing a lawsuit in court, employment disputes must pass through a mandatory conciliatory phase in the form of:
- conciliation before the Public Attorney’s Office with the competent provincial labour court;
- mediation before the General Labour Inspectorate; or
- voluntary arbitration.
As soon as a claim is filed with the court, the employee and employer will be given notice to attend a conciliatory hearing with the purpose of reaching an agreement. The judicial phase will begin only if no agreement is reached. The employee must pay the court fees in order for a claim to be submitted. Nonetheless, in certain situations, the employee may be exempted from this payment. A trade union’s legal department may also represent employees and will pay the court fees on their behalf.
The timescale for completing the procedure varies on a case-by-case basis, depending on the court’s workload. The average timescale for first-instance proceedings is two years.
What is the route for appeals?
Both employers and employees can file an appeal with the Court of Appeals. An additional appeal to the Supreme Court is possible, but this is subject to complex requirements. The timescale for these procedures varies on a case-by-case basis, depending on the court’s workload.