The Republic of Senegal is located in northwest Africa on the Atlantic coast. Senegal is one of the most stable countries in Africa and has attracted increasingly significant amounts of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in recent years. Inflows of FDI have risen every year since 2012, and they more than doubled from 2015 to 2019, up to USD983 million.

For companies looking to establish an African subsidiary or build a remote global workforce, Senegal is a strategic choice. According to a 2021 Africa Growth Initiative report, businesses must contend with highly rigid labor regulations in Senegal, which can be a challenge. Fortunately, with some help from in-country experts, you can ensure legal compliance and attract top talent to join your company.

This guide to hiring employees in Senegal will help you navigate the process of international hiring in this nation so you can recruit talented workers in Senegal to join your team.

What to know before hiring in Senegal

When hiring someone in Senegal, companies must not refer to the employment laws and practices they’re used to at home. Each country has its own job market and laws that shape the recruitment and employment process. Let’s look at five key areas employers should understand before they start hiring new employees in Senegal.

1. The Senegalese job market

International employers looking to hire employees in Senegal will benefit from the country’s plentiful labor force, which has grown annually by a rate of 3.41 percent. Job opportunities in the country are limited, so employers should attract plenty of job seekers.

Some of the country’s biggest industries include:

  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Mining
  • Energy

2. Education Levels

Employers may have difficulty finding workers with the education qualifications they’re used to seeing on applicants’ resumes. The vast majority of Senegalese people do not attend college. The gross enrollment ratio for tertiary education in the country is just 13 percent. That’s higher than the average for Sub-Saharan Africa, but is still well below the global average of 39 percent.

Around half of students in Senegal attend secondary school, so many workers have a solid education foundation even if they do not have a degree. However, it’s also notable that Senegal’s literacy rate is 52 percent. Even if you have a difficult time finding applicants with advanced education qualifications, you may find employees in Senegal with valuable work experience within your industry. You may want to build relevant skills assessments into your hiring process so you can learn more about applicants’ abilities.

3. Compensation and taxes

Senegal’s currency is the West African Financial Community of Africa (CFA) franc, a currency shared by seven other neighboring states. Senegal has a national minimum wage that employers must observe. In 2021, the minimum wage is set at CFA317 francs per hour for most workers. For agricultural workers, the minimum wage is lower at CFA213 francs per hour.

Though not common in the country, Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) can sometimes set higher minimum wages for workers within a certain industry. Employers should know whether a CBA applies to their employees. Employees may also expect a 13th-month bonus since these are common in the country.

Senegal uses a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system for paying personal income tax and social contributions, which requires employers to withhold the proper amounts from employees’ paychecks. Both employers and employees contribute to the Institut de Prévoyance Maladie (IPM) Health Fund and to the National Retirement Fund. Employers make social security contributions and contribute to an industrial accident fund depending on the level of risk inherent in the work. Finally, employers and executives must also contribute to the executive pension fund.

4. Paid time off and other benefits

The workweek in Senegal is 40 hours. Senegal has 14 national holidays, and employees are generally entitled to 24 days of paid vacation leave. In addition, employees should receive at least five paid sick days annually, if needed. Employment law also entitles female employees to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.

The IPM health fund covers part of employees’ medical costs — anywhere from 40 percent to 80 percent. Employers are expected to offset remaining costs by paying employees a small allowance each day they are in the hospital. Some employers may also offer private health insurance policies to supplement employees’ medical costs.

5. Employment contracts in Senegal

Employers must provide their new hires with written contracts detailing the terms of employment. These contracts should be written in a language the employee can understand. For temporary positions, employers can create a fixed contract that lasts up to two years. If an anticipated end date is not included, a contract is considered permanent. In either case, the contract should include key points of information, such as:

  • Job responsibilities: Clearly spell out the expectations for the position in the employment contract. Though roles can evolve, employees should start out knowing what job duties they are responsible for.
  • Compensation: State the salary in terms of CFA francs rather than your company’s national currency. If you plan to give an annual 13th-month bonus, you can include that information, as well.
  • Benefits: Clearly outline the benefits employees are guaranteed. Give special attention to any paid time-off policies, insurance plans, or other benefits that exceed the legally required minimum.
  • Termination requirements: Contracts should also include procedures for termination. Legally, employers must notify employees in advance of termination. The required notice period depends on factors like the employee’s position and time with the company. During the notice period, employers should provide employees with paid time off so they can seek employment elsewhere. Employees are also entitled to severance pay, the amount of which depends on their earnings over the past year and how long they’ve been with the company. CBAs may also weigh in on severance requirements.

The cost of hiring an employee in Senegal

The low cost of labor in Senegal is one of the factors that may attract some international companies to invest here. However, it’s notable that Senegal’s labor costs are not as low as some may assume. Whereas some cost-effective countries for manufacturing, for example, have an average labor cost per worker that is close to the GDP per capita, Senegal’s labor cost per worker is double the country’s GDP per capita. Still, labor costs in Senegal are quite reasonable on a global scale.

In addition to the ongoing cost of labor, there are also upfront costs employers must be prepared to incur. The steps to hiring in Senegal can come with their own costs, including:

  • Establishing a branch or subsidiary in Senegal
  • Partnering with lawyers and accountants to help you comply with employment and tax laws
  • Relying on a hiring agency for recruitment or compensating your internal hiring committee
  • Publishing job ads and conducting skills assessments
  • Conducting pre-employment screenings

Hiring practices in Senegal

Because there are distinct ethnic groups in Senegal, it’s important that you get to know each individual job applicant and learn about their culture and — most importantly — their language. Because Senegal was a French colony until 1960, French is the official language. However, in reality, French is only spoken by an educated minority of the population.

The most common language, which functions as a lingua franca in the country, is Wolof. This is the indigenous language of the Wolof ethnic group, which comprises nearly two-fifths of Senegal’s population. Overall, close to 40 languages are spoken throughout the country. In addition to French and Wolof, other common languages include Arabic, Serer, Fula, Diola, Bambara, Malinke, and Soninke. Determine what language skills are required for a position and make that clear. If you have some flexibility, find out which language applicants are most comfortable conversing in.

It’s also helpful to know that Islam is the dominant religion in the country. While you should not ask applicants about their religion, it’s considerate to keep religious needs and preferences in mind throughout the hiring process.

What does a company need to hire employees in Senegal?

Before you can start hiring employees in Senegal, you need to establish a business entity in the country. In most cases, this will take the form of a limited liability company. There are four main steps you must complete to set up your business:

  1. Deposit founding capital: New businesses must deposit founding capital with a Senegalese bank, either directly or through a public notary.
  2. Reserve company name: You must also check with the court to ensure your company name is available.
  3. Notarize company bylaws and deposit subscribed capital: A public notary must notarize your company bylaws and deposit subscribed capital at your bank.
  4. Register your business at the one-stop shop: The last step brings various remaining requirements together in one place. The tax authority and the Commercial Registry will register your company’s bylaws. You will get a company identification number from the National Identification Number of Companies and Associations (NINEA), and the labor authority will register workers and commence operations. This is also where you will register for social security and the pension fund.

Senegal’s process for starting a business can technically be completed in six days. However, realistically, it can take a long time to plan out your company growth and ensure you have everything you need to proceed.

If you want to hire employees in Senegal without establishing a business there, consider working with Globalization Partners’ SaaS Employer of Record model. Our Global Growth Platform™ allows you to legally employ the workers you recruit and handle payroll and other HR responsibilities in just a few clicks. You’re freed up to focus on your core competencies, and you don’t have to invest the time or expense involved in setting up a subsidiary.

Hiring remote employees in Senegal

Hiring remote employees in Senegal can be a great step forward for building your global team. If you’re recruiting workers for remote positions, you should take these tips for hiring in Senegal into account:

  • Ensure employees have a quality internet connection: Senegal has a modest internet penetration rate of 56.7 percent. Senegal has benefited from a rapid expansion in broadband internet infrastructure over the past decade, but many Senegalese are still without access to the internet. For remote work, a quality internet connection is critical. So, ensure that job candidates have an adequate remote work setup where they can use cloud-based software and communicate with the rest of the team.
  • Implement skills assessments: Since education qualifications may not be the same as what you’re used to in your home country, it can be helpful to learn more about applicants’ skills. A great way to do this is through skills assessments. You can find services online that will allow you to build these assessments into the application process. These tests can assess specific skills, like typing speed, or can gain insight into an applicant’s personality or professional philosophy.
  • Keep the lines of communication open: Job seekers always appreciate transparency in the hiring process, but communication is especially important for remote hiring. Share as much information as you can with applicants about your company and what working remotely would look like day to day. Invite their questions and provide explanations so everyone is on the same page.
  • Schedule interviews with time zones in mind: Senegal is on Greenwich Mean Time all year. That means companies in neighboring countries and the UK share the same time zone, at least part of the year. However, companies based in other parts of Europe or Africa or in other parts of the world will need to account for a time difference when scheduling interviews and other meetings.
  • Make employees in Senegal feel connected: During onboarding, take the time to introduce your new remote employees to their coworkers and to the company as a whole. Video conferencing software can be a great way to do this. Look for opportunities to help all your remote workers feel connected to the rest of your team.

Learn more about Globalization Partners’ platform

Understanding how to hire in Senegal is just one piece of the puzzle for global growth. The logistics of setting up a business entity and navigating unfamiliar employment and tax laws can become a burden that distracts from your company’s core competencies and long-term goals. If you want to simplify the process of international hiring, consider using Globalization Partners’ Global Growth Platform™. Learn more about our AI-driven technology and how it can help you hire in Senegal. Request a proposal today to get started.

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