Mozambique: Oil company’s workers suspended for improper documentation

What is the change? Mozambican authorities have suspended 34 foreign employees of one of the largest oil companies in Sub-Saharan Africa for working without the proper work authorization.

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What does the change mean? Employers should be aware of the enforcement environment and the risks of violating immigration laws. Mozambican authorities have recently significantly increased their audits of employers to encompass additional regions since they began the audits in Maputo in December.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: All work permits.
  • Who is affected: Companies that employ foreign nationals.
  • Business impact: Businesses found to be in violation of work permit regulations face fines, loss of reputation and may have their facilities closed for repeat offenses. Undocumented workers are usually deported.
  • Next steps: Companies should conduct a review and ensure that they are in compliance with immigration laws.

Background: Following an inspection of SASOL’s facilities in Inhambane, the Mozambican Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security suspended 34 foreign national workers, of whom 28 had no work authorization and six had permits in excess of the company’s available quota. Companies requesting permits in excess of their quota must request approval after the Ministry of Labor determines that there are no qualified Mozambicans to fill the position. The 34 foreign nationals reportedly included nationals of Brazil, Canada, Iran, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. In response to reports of the suspension, SASOL has stated that its recruitment is in line with the quota system and all relevant work authorization procedures and that the company is “working with the Labor Ministry in order to clear up the matter.”

BAL Analysis: The case is a reminder to employers that labor inspections are underway and officials are cracking down on companies that flout work permit rules, regardless of the company’s size or contribution to the national economy.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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