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With its political stability, high sovereign credit rating, abundant natural resources like copper and diamonds, and low labor expenses, Botswana is an ideal location for international business.
From its beginnings as one of the world’s poorest nations when it gained independence in 1966, Botswana has worked to achieve tremendous economic growth. It has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1995, and it is now an upper-middle-income country with aspirations of becoming a high-income country by 2036. Its gross domestic product (GDP) has grown steadily over the past several decades, rising to a high of USD 18 billion in 2018.
If your company is considering international growth, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with best hiring practices, standard working conditions, and relevant labor laws. To help you begin, we’ve developed this comprehensive guide to hiring employees in Botswana. Explore the employment topics and tips for hiring below so you can set your company up for success.
What to know before hiring in Botswana
The law governing labor-related matters in Botswana is the Employment Act, and your company must comply with its provisions. Before getting started with recruiting and hiring, you’ll need a firm grasp of how the country handles aspects of employment, such as contracts, payroll, working hours, benefits, paid leave, and other essential employment considerations.
1. Contracts and termination
Like many countries, Botswana operates without at-will employment. Once employees have passed their probationary periods, employers cannot dismiss them except after specific notice periods. Botswana law allows for probationary periods of three months for unskilled workers and 12 months for skilled workers.
If the employee has not engaged in serious misconduct, the required notice period for termination is one pay cycle. Serious misconduct is grounds for immediate termination.
Managers, executives, and other senior team members are generally entitled to redundancy pay upon termination. This payment equals a day’s pay per month of employment during the first five years and two days’ pay for each month of employment thereafter. Employees entitled to gratuities or pensions at the end of their employment cannot receive this pay.
Botswana law does not require employment contracts between employers and employees. Nevertheless, best practices are to put written employment contracts in place for all workers. Each contract should specify the job duties, compensation and benefits, and termination requirements.
2. Payroll and taxes
Botswana has no payroll or social security taxes. This feature of Botswanan labor practices makes employing Botswanan workers relatively straightforward.
Botswana does have income taxes and operates on a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) income system. The payment amounts depend on whether employees are residents or nonresidents.
Resident taxpayers pay between 0 percent and 25 percent, with the exact amounts depending on their incomes. Nonresident taxpayers pay between 5 percent and 25 percent, again with the exact amounts depending on income. Living allowances, tax reimbursements, and benefits in kind all count as taxable income.
Your company may also need to pay corporate income taxes to the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) if it creates a permanent establishment there. The top corporate income tax rate in Botswana is 22 percent.
3. Compensation and working hours
Botswana does not have a single federal minimum wage. Instead, the minimum wage varies by industry. For example, as of 2019, the minimum wage in the quarrying industry stood at only BWP 6.77 per hour, while employees in the forestry and fishing industries were required to receive at least BWP 1,000 per hour.
Botswana limits the working week to no more than 48 hours. It also limits the workday to nine hours a day for a five-day week and eight hours a day for a six-day week. Though employees may work overtime, the law caps overtime at 14 hours per week. Employees must receive at least one 24-hour rest period every week — most workers take this break on Sunday.
Employees must receive 150 percent of their usual wages for standard overtime hours worked. Employees who must work on public holidays or rest days should receive 200 percent of their regular wages for those hours.
4. Leave and benefits
Botswanan employees must receive a few guaranteed benefits, including paid annual leave and holidays.
Botswana celebrates eight national holidays, which employees should receive as days off from work. Employees are also entitled to another 15 days of paid leave annually. They must take eight of those days within six months of receipt and can save the remaining days for up to three years.
Botswanan employees should receive a separate 14 days of sick leave per year, which they can use if they present a doctor’s note confirming their illness.
If they present a doctor’s note, Botswanan mothers must receive 12 weeks of maternity leave, at least six weeks to be taken before the birth and at least six weeks afterward. Mothers can receive an additional two weeks of leave if medically necessary. They must receive at least 25 percent of their usual pay during those weeks, or 50t per day, whichever is greater. Fathers are not entitled to paternity leave under the law, but employers may offer it if they choose.
5. Job market and workforce
The unemployment rate in Botswana is relatively high. As of 2020, it had hit 24.93 percent. In one recent survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents cited unemployment as one of the top three issues the Botswanan government should address, well ahead of even the issues of poverty, at 24 percent, and education, at 21 percent.
Your company will likely see stiff competition for positions because of the high unemployment rate. In some cases, you may be able to select from a very deep candidate pool. However, overall, the Botswanan workforce has relatively little education and training.
The World Bank reports that one of the driving factors of the high unemployment rate is the high number of young Botswanans with very low skill and education levels. These youths make up about 19.6 percent of the unemployed population.
Low labor productivity also contributes to high unemployment. Global downturns in the diamond market can cause additional economic disruption and unemployment spikes. Each year, as the workforce tends to require more and more skilled workers, the issue of unemployment deepens.
Gender disparities in unemployment have also become widespread. Since 2005, the male unemployment rate has fluctuated between about 14 and 17 percent, while the female unemployment rate has been much higher, at 21 to 23 percent. Your company may need to apply concentrated recruitment efforts to achieve gender diversity in the workplace.
The national language in Botswana is Setswana, also known as Tswana. Setswana is a Bantu language — a member of a large language family that predominates in much of southern Africa. The majority of Botswanans speak Setswana.
English serves as the official language in business, education, and administration, even though only about 2.8 percent of Botswanans speak English as their first language. Most written communication is in English.
However, Botswana is also home to several other regional languages. These are primarily various non-Setswana Bantu languages, including Kalanga, Kalagadi, Shona, Ndebele, and Mbukushu. Some Botswanans also speak Tshwa, a Kalahari dialect, and !Xóõ, a Khoisan or “click” language.
Botswana’s language diversity can be an incredible strength for your company. If your teams speak numerous languages, you can connect more effectively with Botswanans around the country. Your company may wish to engage translation services as well to ensure clarity in communications.
The cost of hiring an employee in Botswana
The expense of hiring new employees in Botswana varies. It depends on your company’s policies about insurance and employment perks, as well as how competitive you plan to make your hiring packages to attract top talent.
Here are a few of the direct and indirect hiring costs you may contend with:
- Business establishment fees
- Job postings
- Partnerships with third-party recruitment agencies
- Applicant-tracking software
- Background and reference checks
- Travel for interviews
- Supplementary insurance
- Miscellaneous extra perks
Botswana has a universal public healthcare system, and private health insurance is rare. Employers do not generally need to provide full insurance benefits to their employees. However, some employers may offer supplementary insurance to make their company more attractive to candidates.
Hiring practices in Botswana
Hiring someone in Botswana may not differ substantially from hiring new employees domestically. Still, your company should prepare for a few differences. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Use proven, effective recruitment methods: Online job advertisements are less common in Botswana than in many other countries. Employers often use more traditional recruiting routes such as posting job ads in newspapers or working with recruitment agencies. Campus recruitment events are rare.
- Use the local language and currency: In your recruiting and hiring communications, you’ll want to use the local language wherever possible, especially in your formal offer letters and contracts. You should also give compensation amounts in Botswanan pula. Using the local language and currency ensures clarity, and it demonstrates your willingness to make your new hires feel welcome and appreciated.
- Engage in nondiscriminatory hiring: Botswana’s Employment Act prohibits discrimination against a candidate or employee because of race, gender, sex, ethnicity, marital status, age, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, or HIV status. Your company will need to avoid asking interview questions about these topics to avoid giving even the illusion of bias.
- Accept union membership: Botswana expressly grants its citizens freedom of association, which includes the freedom to join a union. Approximately 60,000 to 70,000 Botswanan workers, a minority of the workforce, belong to trade unions. Your company cannot discriminate against candidates on the grounds of their union membership. Doing so carries penalties under the law, including damage payments to the candidate in question.
- Minimize pre-employment testing: In some countries, pre-employment drug screenings are standard. However, Botswana law prohibits medical pre-employment testing of any kind unless the job requires it or the law explicitly allows it. Your company can require other tests, such as polygraph tests, as long as you apply them consistently, fairly, accurately, and without cultural bias.
What does a company need to hire employees in Botswana?
One common method used to hire employees in Botswana is establishing a subsidiary — a local extension of your company owned or controlled by your international parent company.
However, establishing a subsidiary in Botswana is highly time-consuming and costly. If you select this route, the required steps to hiring in Bostwana will be extensive.
First, you will need to decide whether to incorporate as a limited liability company (LLC) or another type of company. To establish an LLC subsidiary, the most common option for international businesses, your company will need to complete numerous tasks:
- Appointing at least one director who is a resident of Botswana
- Appointing at least one shareholder of any nationality
- Reserving your company name
- Completing formal registration paperwork with the Registrar of Companies and Intellectual Property (ROCIP)
- Applying for and obtaining an industrial license
- Enrolling with BURS
- Obtaining a BURS tax ID number
Working with a global Employer of Record like Globalization Partners helps you simplify and expedite the process. Our established presence in Botswana means you can dispense with many of these business establishment requirements. You can start hiring employees right away and get your company operational much faster.
Hiring remote employees in Botswana
If your home country is far from Botswana, you may not be able to meet with candidates in person. Fortunately, remote platforms can make long-distance interviewing convenient, even enjoyable. Here are a few best practices to follow as you meet candidates remotely:
- Prioritize flexibility: Online platforms make scheduling across time zones easier than ever. Take advantage of the flexibility they offer. Consider setting up a system to let candidates choose interview times from a list that works for you. You may also need to be willing to adapt quickly if you experience technical difficulties, potentially switching to a different platform if necessary.
- Facilitate a welcoming, collaborative environment: For all its convenience, remote interviewing can sometimes feel impersonal. To combat this aspect of remote hiring, be proactive in making candidates feel like an integral part of the process. Take time to learn about each one, foster honest dialogue, and encourage candidates to ask whatever questions they have for you.
- Consider a final in-person step: In some cases, you may have several rounds of interviews, particularly with higher-level positions. If you can, consider scheduling in-person meetings either for the final round or as a welcome once you make a hire. You might have a top executive fly out to speak with final candidates or welcome new employees, for instance.
Simplify your growth in Botswana with Globalization Partners
When you’re ready to scale your business in Botswana, partner with Globalization Partners for efficient, streamlined hiring.
Letting Globalization Partners take on your HR and administrative work saves you time and energy. Our AI-driven Global Employment Platform™ allows you to streamline complicated and time-consuming processes like international payroll setup, employment contract generation, and employee onboarding, ensuring you’ve hired talented people while complying with the law.