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Belize's labour regulations are designed to protect the local job market to enable the employment of as many Belizeans as possible, and understandably so. Employment of foreign citizens is possible, however, under certain circumstances. 

 

There are two types of work permit applications: a) Application for permission to employ a foreigner: Any foreign citizen who wishes to work in Belize MUST be a legal resident (have resided in Belize for at least six months). He or she must be in the country legally, with proper visas and/or permits issued by the Immigration Department. The prospective employer must submit the following to the Labour Department: The application for the foreign worker he wishes to hire; three passport photos; $10 in stamps; a valid passport; and proof that this individual is qualified for the job. At the same time, the Labour officer must be satisfied that all efforts to employ a Belizean have been exhausted. This includes providing proof that the vacant position was advertised locally for at least three weeks, following which, no suitable applicant was found;

and, b) Application for Temporary Self-Employment: This category would apply to foreign investors, among others. All applicants must be in the country legally, with proper visas and/or permits issued by the Immigration Department. They are required to produce proof of reasonably sufficient funds for their proposed venture (i.e.: local bank statement of account). Applicants must also obtain a reference from the relevant Ministry or Local Organization concerned with the category of work involved. In such situations, the six-month residency requirement is waived, and it is assumed that the venture will lead to creation of employment for Belizeans in the future.

Work Permit Fees are now as follows: Professional and technical workers: $750; general workers: $100; seasonal agricultural workers: $25 per crop; entertainers in groups of two to five: $250 each; individual entertainers: $150; missionaries, educational and volunteer individuals: $25. Barring exceptional circumstances, work permits will not be granted for waiters, vendors, domestic workers, and farm hands.

For further information, telephone the Immigration and Nationality Department at: 501-8-22611 or -22423; or the Labour Department at: 501-8-22204.



Here is what you will need for your Work Permit application. Work Permits are issued through the Immigration and Nationality Department. 

The following are requirements for Work Permits:

  • A valid Passport - Application Form (can be purchased at the Angelus Press located nearby the Immigration offices in Belmopan on Market Sq street) Fee 0.83$ BZD [May 07] 
  • Three (3) Passport sized photographs [Cost for 4 pictures - 9.00$ BZE]
  • $20.00 worth of postage stamps (can be purchased at the Post Office in Belmopan accross from the Immigration building and near the market square)
  • Three (3) copies of job vacancies advertised in the local newspaper in different issues if you will be employed by a Belizean company/employer.
  • Bank statement (for self-employed)
  • Trade License (for self-employed)
  • Letter of recommendation from village councilor
  • Letter from Church (for Missionary)
  • Other relevant documents e.g. birth certificate, diplomas, etc.


 

Working Life

Belize's minimum wage, often considered insufficient to support a family, is either BZD$2.50 or BZD$3.00 an hour, depending on the industry. Average salaries are around BZD$8,500 a year, and income over BZD$19,600 a year is taxed at a flat rate of 25 percent, paid monthly. Belize has an unemployment rate of about 10 percent and one third of the population lives below the poverty line. Unfortunately, highly-skilled Belizeans often leave the country to pursue a career in the United States.

Working conditions in Belize aren't up to the standards of developed countries, especially for undocumented workers. The Belizean government's resources are limited, so enforcement of human rights and labor laws are often limited to urban areas or more accessible rural areas. As such, working conditions in the remote parts of the country can be questionable. The situation is improving; as wages increase, unemployment and poverty decline and workers' rights are more frequently respected throughout the country.

An average Belizean work week is 45 hours or six days a week, with paid overtime. Employees are entitled to two weeks of paid vacation annually. If an employee has worked 60 days in the past 12 months, they are allowed 16 days of sick leave. Pregnant women are also entitled to 30 days of sick leave for pregnancy-related illnesses.

Notice for termination varies depending on employment length. For the first six months of employment, employees are entitled to three days notice. From six months to a year of employment, one week notice is required and after a year of employment, two weeks notice is required.

Belizeans can — and do — organize unions, which comprise around 10 percent of the workforce. Unions in Belize have the right to strike without notice, unless they provide an essential service in which case 21 days notice is required. Discrimination based on union affiliation is illegal, though it has been known to happen.

Article by: Paradise Hunter