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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.

Misclassification

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.

Contracts

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.

Foreign workers

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).

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