Engage In Malawi

Table of Contents

About Malawi

Capital City

Lilongwe

Population

As of March 2024, the estimated population of Malawi is 20,931,751.

Currency

The currency in Malawi is the Malawian Kwacha (MWK). The currency symbol is k.

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Overview

Malawi, a landlocked country situated in southeastern Africa, is known for its picturesque highlands and expansive lakes. It occupies a slender strip of land along the East African Rift Valley, with Lake Nyasa, also known as Lake Malawi, covering over one-fifth of its total area. With an estimated population of around 20.2 million people in 2023, Malawi remains primarily agrarian, with the majority of its inhabitants engaged in cash-crop and subsistence farming. The country’s agricultural exports comprise both smallholder produce and the products of large tea and tobacco estates. Despite receiving significant foreign capital in the form of development aid and having ample natural resources, Malawi has struggled with issues such as chronic malnutrition, high infant mortality rates, and widespread poverty, particularly among rural communities. While the country has a few major urban centers like the capital, Lilongwe, and Blantyre, the seat of the judiciary, most Malawians reside in rural areas. Malawi’s geography stretches approximately 520 miles from north to south, with varying widths ranging from 5 to 100 miles. It shares borders with Tanzania to the north, Mozambique to the east and south, and Zambia to the west, making it a strategically located country in the region.

Employment Relationship

Permanent Employment

According to Malawi’s Employment Act, contracts for positions connected with the regular and permanent activity of an organization are deemed to be contracts of employment for an unspecified period (indefinite term). Either party may terminate an employment agreement for an indefinite term upon giving the other party the minimum period of notice in writing. In cases of ambiguity, where an employee is regularly and repeatedly employed and paid wages based on completion of a quantity of work that can be completed in less than 24 hours, the contract of employment is deemed to be for an unspecified period.

Fixed-Term or Specific-Purpose Contracts

Although Malawi's Employment Act stipulates that a contract may be concluded for a specified period or specific task, it does not contain provisions that mention the reasons for which such agreements may be made. The Employment Act specifies that a contract of employment for a specific period or specific task is automatically terminated on its end date or upon the completion of task unless it is expressly or tacitly renewed or prolonged. No notice is required for the termination of such a contract. If notice is required in the contract, minimum duration is 14 days. The Employment Act also does not specify the maximum length of a single fixed-term contract nor the maximum number of renewals allowed for a single fixed-term contract. However, fixed-term or task-based contracts used to fill positions connected with an employer's regular and permanent activity are deemed to be contracts for an unspecified period (indefinite term).

Temporary Employment Contratcs

Malawi's labor law does not provide any specific guidance on temporary employment contracts. The Employment Act stipulates that a contract of employment to perform a specific task ends upon its completion, and no notice of termination is required of either party.

Probationary Period

Malawi's Employment Act allows the use of a probationary period in an employment contract with a skilled worker, which the Employment Act defines as "an employee in an undertaking who has [a] special ability to do something for which ability is gained through acquisition, programmed or otherwise, of knowledge, attitude, and behavior." The parties may agree on the duration of the probationary period, provided that the period does not, in any event, exceed 12 months. During a probationary period, the employment contract may be terminated at any time by either party without notice.

Working Hours

Malawi's Employment Act stipulates that an employee's regular working hours be set out in the employment contract, provided that no employer require or permit any employee (other than certain specifically exempted employees, such as security guards) to work for more than 48 hours during any week, excluding overtime. An employer may not require or permit an employee to work for more than six consecutive days without a rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours, which must be taken on a customary rest day or a day agreed upon between the parties.

Holidays / PTO

Statutory Holidays

January 1 (New Year’s Day); January 15 (John Chilembwe Day); March 3 (Martyr’s day); March or April (Good Friday), Easter Monday; May 1 (Labor Day) May 14 (Kamuzu Day); July 6 (Independence Day); 15 October (Mother’s Day); December 25 (Christmas Day); December 26 (Boxing Day).

Paid Annual Leave

Malawi's Employment Act entitles every employee (unless specifically exempted) to a period of annual leave with pay of not less than: 18 working days if the employee works six days a week 15 working days if the employee works five days a week. The annual leave is to be taken within six months of the date the employee becomes entitled to it. However, the leave may be deferred and accumulated by mutual agreement.

Sick Leave

Malawi's labor law stipulates that, after completing 12 months of continuous service, an employee is entitled to at least four weeks' sick leave on full pay and eight weeks' sick leave on half pay each year. During sick leave, an employee is to be paid the regular wage rate. An employer cannot terminate an employee's service during their temporary absence from work because of sickness or injury.

Maternity Leave

Every three years, a female employee in Malawi is entitled to at least eight weeks of fully paid maternity leave provided by the employer. In the event of illness certified by a registered medical practitioner that arises out of pregnancy or confinement and affects the employee or her child, the employer must provide additional paid leave as the employer may deem fit. Pregnant employees are entitled to reduced working hours or a more flexible schedule. Upon recommendation by a registered practitioner, pregnant shift workers can change to a shift that is better for their health and pregnancy. Where a female employee applies for maternity leave again before the 3-year period expires, the period of absence will be treated as unpaid leave or annual leave if not already taken. When an employee is on maternity leave, her regular benefits and entitlements, including her contractual rights and seniority accumulation, shall continue uninterrupted. Her period of employment shall not be considered to have been interrupted, reduced, or broken.

Paternity Leave

Malawi's Employment (Amendment) Act of 2021 grants two weeks' paid paternity leave to employees once every three years.

Termination of Employment

Notice Period

According to Malawi's Employment Act, the minimum notice period in respect of fixed-term contracts is 14 calendar days. An indefinite term contract may be terminated by either party after a written notice is provided. The length of the notice period for an indefinite term contract depends on the wage period. For example, the required notice period is one month for workers who get paid monthly. Either party can waive its right to notice and can also accept payment in place of notice. Instead of providing notice of termination, an employer can pay an employee a sum equal to the compensation they would have received during the notice period and confer on the employee all other benefits due to them up to the required notice period's expiration.

Severance Benefits

Malawi's Employment Act stipulates that severance pay is only due to employees dismissed for economic reasons (termination of a contract due to redundancy, retrenchment, economic difficulties, or the employer's technical, structural, or operational requirements) or employees who are dismissed unfairly. An employee must have completed one year of service to be entitled to severance pay. Severance pay is not provided under the following circumstances: After a termination that occurred during an employee's probationary period After dismissal on objective grounds After the dissolution of the employer (in cases of partnership) and unreasonable refusal to accept another job offer on similar terms After the death of the employer and unreasonable refusal to accept another job offer on similar terms. The amount of severance pay starts at two weeks' wages for one completed year of service and increases at certain length of service intervals.

Social Security

Pension

In Malawi, the retirement age ranges between 50 (minimum) to 70 (maximum) years. At least 20 years of continuous service and contributions are required to qualify for the old-age pension. Employers must ensure that their employees are part of the mandatory National Pension Scheme. Pension benefits are paid as an annuity and depend on the amount in the pension fund. Retired employees may also choose to receive a maximum lump sum of 50% of the pension fund amount, depending on their age.  Employees must contribute at least 5% of their pensionable salary to the National Pension Scheme, while employers must contribute a minimum of 10% of the employee's gross monthly payroll.

Dependents/Survivors Benefit

According to Malawi's Pension Act, an employee entitled to a pension can nominate family members (a spouse, child, or close relatives) and stipulate the benefit amount that will be shared between them after the employee's death. Benefits may be paid as a lump sum or annuity. In case of death caused by work accidents or occupational diseases, employers must pay benefits to the survivors as a lump sum of 42 months of the deceased worker's last monthly earnings (minus any disability benefit paid before the date of death). If there are no surviving dependents, the employer will bear any medical attendance and funeral expenses. Employees are required to pay at least 5% of their pensionable salary to the National Pension Scheme, while employers must contribute a minimum of 10% of the employee's pensionable emoluments.

Invalidity Benefit

In Malawi, employees can retire after being declared totally and permanently disabled by a medical doctor. The benefits can be paid in the form of a lump sum, scheduled payments, or used to purchase an annuity with the individual's pension fund's balance amount. Employers must also register their employees for a life insurance policy with a licensed insurance company. This requirement is satisfied if the employer enrolls the employee in a policy with the minimum coverage.  In case of disability caused by work accidents or occupational diseases, employees are eligible to receive benefits as follows: For a total and permanent disability, a lump sum of 54 months of the employee's average monthly earnings is paid. Additional compensation is provided if the employee requires constant attendance. For partial permanent disability, the benefit is calculated as a percentage of the benefit for total permanent disability proportional to the degree of disability. For temporary disability, the benefit is paid from the fourth day as a percentage of the employee's earnings until recovery or certification of permanent disability.  Employees must contribute at least 5% of their pensionable salary to the National Pension Scheme, while employers must contribute a minimum of 10% of the employee's gross monthly payroll.

Taxation of Compensation and Benefits

Personal Income Tax

Per the laws of Malawi, regardless of residency, an individual will be taxed only on income sourced in Malawi and not on passive foreign income. The tax year runs from April 1 until March 31 of the next year. A flat tax rate of 15% applies to all non-resident income. Non-resident tax may not be withheld on the income of residents of countries that have a standing double tax agreement (DTA) with Malawi, subject to the provisions of the specific DTAs. At the moment, the following countries have a double tax agreement with Malawi: France, Denmark, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. A person is considered to be a resident if they meet one of the following conditions: Stays in Malawi for an aggregate period of not less than 183 days in a year Obtains either a business permit, an employment permit, or a temporary resident permit. Resident individuals are subject to income tax on their Malawi-source income at rates ranging from 0% to 35%.

Immigration

Types of Visas

Malawi issues the following visas: Tourist visa – issued to persons intending to enter Malawi for visits, residence, or business, valid for 3 months and can only be used once. Transit visa – issued to persons intending to transit through Malawi for 7 days and can only be used once. Official visa – issued to persons holding official or service passports for government official visits to Malawi, valid for 3 months and can only be used once. Courtesy visa – issued to persons holding either official, service, or ordinary passports, and is valid for 3 months and can only be used once. Diplomatic visa – issued to persons holding a diplomatic passport on an official visit or mission to Malawi, valid for 3 months and can only be used once.

Work Permit

Foreigners offered employment in Malawi must apply for a Temporary Employment Permit (TEP) before starting employment. The employer is responsible for applying for the permit on behalf of the applicant. The local employer should prove that the skills that the expatriate is bringing are not available in Malawi. The TEP is valid for a period not exceeding two years and is subject to renewal. Required documents (non-exhaustive) include the following: Application form for a TEP Employment contract Curriculum vitae Valid passport Advertisement for the vacancy Academic qualifications The TEP is valid for at least six months and no more than two years.

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