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Here’s where you get started with human resources best practices and hiring in Zambia.

Elephant drinking water from Zambezi river, Zambia

Zambian Currency

Zambian Kwacha (ZMW)

The Capital of Zambia

Lusaka

Time Zone in Zambia

GMT+2

Important Facts About the Country of Zambia

Introduction to Zambia

Zambia, officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central, Southern and East Africa. The capital city of Zambia is Lusaka, positioned in the south-central part of the country. The majority of Zambia’s population of 19.5 million people resides in Lusaka and the Copperbelt Province in the north, which serve as the primary hubs for economic activities in the nation. Zambia boasts abundant natural resources, encompassing minerals, wildlife, forests, freshwater sources and fertile land suitable for cultivation.

What to Know about Zambia's Geography

Zambia shares its borders with several neighboring nations. The country is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, while Tanzania and Zimbabwe lie to the northeast. Moving eastwards, Zambia is bordered by Malawi and to the southeast by Mozambique. In the southwest, it shares its border with Namibia. Angola and Botswana are west of Zambia.

The country’s terrain is characterized by vast stretches of high plateaus adorned with hills and mountains. These geographical features are interspersed with river valleys, providing natural divisions within the landscape. In total, Zambia spans an approximate land area of 752,000 square kilometers.

Climate in Zambia

Zambia experiences a tropical climate that exhibits variations based on altitude. The climate is divided into two distinct seasons: the wet season, which occurs from November to April and corresponds to the summer months, and the dry season, which spans from May to October and aligns with winter. In most parts of the country, the average monthly temperatures remain above 20 °C for at least eight months of the year.

The Culture of Zambia

The culture of Zambia is a rich amalgamation of values, norms, material aspects and spiritual traditions derived from over 70 distinct ethnic groups. Among the various forms of entertainment, soccer stands out as the most popular sport in the country. In addition, Zambians engage in activities such as dancing, storytelling, music and art – all of which contribute to the vibrant cultural fabric.

Zambians take great pride in their national identity and heritage, cherishing the customs and traditions passed down through generations. The people of Zambia exhibit a strong sense of community and solidarity, fostering a spirit of togetherness and cooperation within their society.

Religions Observed in Zambia

Under the constitution, Zambia holds the official status of being a “Christian nation,” while simultaneously upholding and protecting the principles of religious freedom. The majority, nearly three-quarters, of the population identifies with various Protestant denominations. Indigenous faiths continue to be observed by a small fraction, less than 3%, of the population. Muslims make up around 0.5% of the Zambian populace, with a similar proportion practicing Hinduism.

Languages Spoken in Zambia

English serves as the official language of Zambia, employed in governmental affairs and public education. However, within the local context, particularly in Lusaka, the predominant language is Nyanja (Chewa), closely followed by Bemba. These local languages play a significant role in everyday communication and cultural expression among the Zambian population.

Zambian Human Resources at a Glance

Employment Law Protections in Zambia

The Employment Code serves as the primary legal framework governing employment relationships in Zambia. In addition to the Employment Code, there are other essential legal sources that hold significance:

  • Workers Compensation Act
  • The Industrial and Labor Relations Act
  • The Ministerial Orders made pursuant to the Minimum Wage and Conditions of Employment Act
  • The National Health Insurance Act
  • The National Pension Scheme Act

Employment Contracts in Zambia

The recognition of employment contracts extends to both oral and written agreements. According to the law, employers are obligated to maintain a record containing specific particulars of an oral employment contract. These particulars must be recorded in accordance with legal requirements:

  • The name, sex, address and nationality of the employee
  • The name, address and occupation of the employer
  • The date of the employee’s engagement and the capacity in which the employee is to be employed
  • The type of contract
  • The place of engagement
  • The rate of salaries to be paid and any additional payments in kind
  • The intervals of payment of the salaries
  • Any other prescribed particulars

In cases where the duration of an employment contract exceeds six months or the number of working days reaches or surpasses six months within a year, it is mandatory for the contract to be documented in writing.

Zambia's Contract Terms

Fixed-term contracts can be structured in the following formats:

  • A long-term contract exceeding 12 months, renewable for further terms
  • A contract for a specific task
  • A probationary contract not exceeding 3 months

There are no restrictions or mandatory conditions imposed on the renewal or conversion of fixed-term contracts into permanent contracts in Zambia.

Pre-Employment Checks in Zambia

There are no limitations on conducting pre-employment checks, which can include medical examinations to assess an employee’s fitness for work and criminal record checks. However, it is important to note that employers are prohibited from conducting pre-employment HIV/AIDS screenings as per the law.

Zambia's Guidelines Regarding Probation Period/Trial Period

An employee can be engaged in a probation period of up to three months to assess their qualifications for a particular position. This probation period can be extended once, for a maximum of three additional months. However, the total duration of the probation period should not exceed six months.

During the probation period, if an employer evaluates that the employee is unsuitable for the role, the employer has the right to terminate the contract with a minimum notice period of 24 hours.

If an employee is rehired by the same employer for the same type of work within two years of their termination and the termination was not based on performance-related issues, the employee is not subject to another probation period.

Regulations and Rules Regarding Working Hours in Zambia

A standard working day typically consists of eight hours. However, with the employee’s consent, the employer may require the employee to work beyond eight hours per day without additional compensation, as long as the total weekly working hours do not surpass 48 hours.

Employees are entitled to a weekly rest day lasting 24 hours, as well as a daily lunch break of one hour. Additionally, employees are granted a daily health break of at least 20 minutes to ensure their well-being during the workday.

Zambian Laws Regarding Overtime

Employees are eligible for overtime compensation if they work beyond 48 hours in a single week. The overtime pay rate is set at 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly wage. Additionally, any work performed on a public holiday or the weekly rest day, typically observed on Sundays, entitles the employee to double their standard hourly wage as compensation.

Zambian Timesheets & Record Keeping

Employers in Zambia must maintain comprehensive records of all salaries disbursed to employees, including any deductions made and the corresponding reasons for those deductions. Additionally, in the case of termination of a written employment contract, the employer is required to retain the contract for a duration of five years following the termination. This ensures relevant documentation is preserved for reference and compliance purposes.

Termination

When terminating a written employment contract, an employer must provide a valid reason for the dismissal. To ensure fairness, the reason must be connected to the employee’s conduct, capacity or the operational requirements of the employer. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the employer being held liable for damages.

If the reason for termination is based on an employee’s behavior or performance, the employer cannot dismiss the employee without giving them an opportunity to present their side of the story.

In cases where an employer dismisses an employee without proper notice or payment in lieu of notice, the employer is required to submit a written report detailing the circumstances and reasons for the dismissal to a labor officer in the district where the employee was working within four days of the dismissal.

Furthermore, when terminating a long-term employment contract, the employer is required to provide the employee with a prorated gratuity payment based on the period of employment.

Zambia's Requirements Regarding Notice Periods

When terminating an employee’s contract, unless the employee is found guilty of misconduct, they are entitled to receive a notice period or payment in lieu of notice. The minimum notice period requirements are as follows:

  • 24 hours for a contract not exceeding one month
  • 14 days for a contract of more than one month but not exceeding three months
  • 30 days for a contract of more than three months

In cases where the duration of an employment contract exceeds six months, it is a requirement for the notice of termination to be provided in written form.

Redundancy/Severance Pay in Zambia

Employees are entitled to receive severance pay when their employment contracts are terminated by the employer or when the contracts reach their expiration date. The amount of severance pay is calculated using the following methods:

  • Termination on medical grounds: three months’ basic pay for each year served
  • Termination of a fixed-term contract: 25% of basic pay earned during the contract period
  • Termination due to redundancy: two months’ basic pay for each year served
  • Death of the employee: two months’ basic pay for each year served

Post-Termination Restraints/Restrictive Covenants

Restricted covenants are generally not enforceable. However, if these covenants are considered reasonable and designed to protect a legitimate interest, they may be upheld and enforced by the relevant authorities.

Data Protection

The labor laws in Zambia do not specifically outline employees’ rights to data protection. However, the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 21/2009 provides protection for employees’ private communications in terms of data protection and data privacy. Moreover, the Constitution of Zambia guarantees and upholds the right to privacy, further safeguarding individuals in this regard.

Tax and Social Security Information for Employers in Zambia

Personal Income Tax in Zambia

Employers have the responsibility of deducting and remitting income tax on behalf of their employees through the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system. Employment income in Zambia is subject to personal income taxes, which are levied at progressive rates as outlined below:

Monthly Taxable Income (ZMW) Tax Rate %
0 – 4,800 0
4,801 – 6,800 20%
6,801 – 8,900 30%
Over 8,900 37.5%

Social Security in Zambia

In Zambia’s social security scheme, both employers and employees are obligated to contribute 5% of the employee’s monthly gross salary towards the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA). The monthly salary ceiling is capped at ZMW 29,816, and the maximum monthly contribution is ZMW 2,981.60 (equally divided between the employer and the employee, amounting to ZMW 1,490.80 each).

Additionally, under the national health insurance scheme, both employers and employees are required to contribute 1% of the employee’s gross salary to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIMA).

There is also a 0.5% for Skills Development Levy and contribution to the Workers Compensation Fund, payable by the employer only. The Workers Compensation Fund amount is determined by an assessment issued after the annual return submission by February 28th each year, varying based on factors like fund type, employee count, total wage bill.

*The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged will differ.

Important Information for Zambian Employees

Salary Payment

An employee’s salary is expected to be paid at regular intervals and must be disbursed no later than the fifth day after the due date. The payment should be made in the local currency, unless there is a written agreement between the parties specifying otherwise.

Payslip

While there is no specific legal requirement, it is advisable for employers in Zambia to furnish their employees with payslips that outline the details of their remuneration. This practice helps promote transparency and clarity regarding salary information for both employers and employees.

Annual Leave

Once an employee has completed 12 consecutive months of service with an employer, they are entitled to two days of paid annual leave for each month of service. At the beginning of each year, it is the responsibility of the employer to engage in consultation with the employee to establish an annual leave plan.

If an employer fails to grant an employee their entitled leave or provides a lesser amount of leave than required by law, the employer must compensate the employee by paying their salary for the remaining days of leave at the end of the twelve-month period.

In cases where an employee’s contract of employment has terminated or expired, and they have accrued any remaining leave, the employer must compensate the employee by paying their salary for the duration of the accumulated leave.

Sick Leave

Employees engaged on a short-term contract in Zambia are entitled to 26 days of sick leave with full pay. This can be extended for another 26 days with half pay. Meanwhile, employees on a long-term contract have the right to three months of sick leave with full pay, extendable for another three months with half pay.

In the event an employee has not fully recovered from an illness or injury six months after the occurrence, and their sick leave entitlement is about to end, an employer may terminate their employment based on medical grounds upon the recommendation of a medical doctor.

Additionally, apart from any other accrued benefits, an employee who is terminated due to medical reasons is entitled to a lump sum payment equal to no less than three months’ basic pay for each completed year of service.

Compassionate & Bereavement Leave

Employees have the right to compassionate leave with full pay for a minimum of 12 days within a calendar year in the unfortunate event of the loss of their spouse, parent or child. This provision ensures that employees have the necessary time and support to cope with their bereavement.

Maternity & Parental Leave

Female employees in Zambia, upon submission of a medical certificate, are entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave, with a mandatory minimum of six weeks to be taken immediately after childbirth. In the case of multiple deliveries, an additional four-week extension of maternity leave is possible.

If a female employee has completed 24 months of continuous employment with the same company before the commencement of maternity leave, and the employment contract does not provide specific maternity benefits, she is entitled to receive her full salary during the maternity leave period.

In the unfortunate event of a miscarriage during the third trimester of pregnancy or the delivery of a stillborn child, a female employee who has been continuously employed by the same employer for twelve months is entitled to six weeks of leave with full pay immediately following the miscarriage or stillbirth. The miscarriage or stillbirth must be certified by a medical doctor.

Following delivery, a female employee is entitled to nursing breaks during each working day for a period of six months. These breaks can either be two breaks of 30 minutes each or one break of one hour, allowing time for nursing or expressing breast milk.

Furthermore, a female employee is granted one day of absence from work per month, at half pay, without the requirement of presenting a medical certificate or providing a reason to the employer.

Paternity Leave

Male employees in Zambia, who have completed 12 months of uninterrupted service with their employer, are entitled to a minimum of five working days of paternity leave. This leave is intended to be taken within seven days of the birth of their child. The employee must provide a birth record to their employer as evidence.

Public Holidays

Zambia typically observes 11 public holidays annually. These holidays encompass both fixed dates as well as those that are determined by religious or seasonal events.

Benefits to the Employee in Zambia

Zambian Statutory Benefits

Employees in Zambia are granted compassionate leave with full pay for a minimum of 12 days per calendar year in the unfortunate circumstances of losing their spouse, parent or child. This provision is in place to provide employees with the essential time and support they need to navigate through the challenging period of bereavement.

Other Benefits

Apart from the statutory entitlements, it is common for employers in Zambia to offer the following supplemental benefits:

  • Year-end bonuses
  • Private health and life insurance
  • Phone allowances, car allowances, etc.
  • Prolonged or additional leave days

Rules Regarding Visas and Foreign Workers in Zambia

General Information

Visas

Visitors to Zambia are required to obtain a visa from a Zambian diplomatic mission unless they are citizens of visa-exempt countries or eligible for a visa upon arrival. Visa-exempt countries include many members of the Commonwealth of Nations, along with select African and Asian countries. Those from visa-on-arrival countries – including numerous European Union member and certain American and Middle Eastern countries – can obtain their visa upon arrival.

Alternatively, visitors have the option to apply for an electronic visa through an online application system. Upon successful application, the visa will be sent via email within three business days.

Tourist visas, available as single, double or multiple-entry, are valid for a duration of 90 days within a 12-month period. Business visas, on the other hand, are valid for 30 days within a 12-month period.

Furthermore, Zambia offers a KAZA UniVisa, which permits multiple entries into Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as day trips to Botswana, for a maximum stay of 30 days. This visa can be obtained online or at specific airports and border posts.

Work Permits

Foreign nationals seeking employment in Zambia are required to obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs. There are two types of work permits available: short-term and long-term.

A short-term work permit allows foreign workers to be employed in Zambia for an initial period of up to three months. This permit can be extended once for an additional three months, allowing the holder to work in the country for a total of six months. Foreign workers in need of a short-term work permit can enter Zambia with a business visa and apply for the permit upon arrival.

A long-term work permit, commonly referred to as an employment permit, is required for those seeking long-term employment. This permit allows foreign nationals to work in Zambia for a maximum period of two years. It can be renewed for subsequent two-year terms if necessary. Individuals requiring a long-term work permit must apply for it prior to their visit to Zambia and await approval before entering the country.

Public Holidays Recognized by Zambia in 2024

Occasion Date
1 New Year’s Day January 1
2 International Women’s Day March 8
3 Youth Day March 12
4 Good Friday March 29
5 Easter Saturday March 30
6 Easter Monday April 1
7 Kenneth Kaunda Birthday April 28
8 Labor Day May 1
9 Africa Day May 25
10 Heroes’ Day July 1
11 Unity Day July 2
12 Farmers’ Day August 5
13 Prayer Day October 18
14 Independence Day October 24
15 Christmas Day December 25

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