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Staff Recruitment in Brunei

With a population of less than half a million, Brunei offers the smallest workforce among ASEAN countries. Owing to the dominant oil and gas sectors, the country’s workforce is mostly employed by two major employers: the public sector and the oil and gas sector. In this connection, the Brunei workforce’s skill sets are often limited and local workers do not necessarily have the skills needed by foreign companies. In recognition of this limitation, the Brunei government is undertaking several initiatives to improve the education and skill levels of its workforce. Meanwhile, foreign workers can be recruited and they currently make up around 40% of Brunei’s workforce.

The Department of Labour under the Ministry of Home Affairs is responsible for matters related to the field of labour and employment. A number of legislative frameworks set out the rights and obligations of employers and employees, which can be found on the website of the Department of Labour. Familiarisation with labour legislation is necessary before recruiting in Brunei, and the key points of which Hong Kong companies should take note include the following:

  • Employers are duty-bound to give priority to employing Brunei nationals. Where employing foreign workers are considered necessary, they must ensure:

    • Approval has been obtained from the Department of Labour. The application process for a foreign worker licence can be found on the website of the Department of Labour. It should be noted that the Brunei government is trying to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign workers and consequently work permits for foreign workers are only issued for short periods of time, which lead to continual renewals.

    • Approval will only be granted if employees are qualified, capable and genuine with suitable qualifications and skills.

    • The position given to foreign workers are those that cannot be filled by locals, whether due to qualifications, experience or not interested. 

  • There is not a system of minimum wage in Brunei.

  • Each workplace, however, is required to make the following additional payments for all Brunei citizens and permanent residents (but this does not apply to foreign workers):

  • Employees can join trade unions, which must be registered. There are currently only three trade unions in Brunei, all in the oil industry. These trade unions are not very active with most disputes quickly settled, and industrial action is rare.


A Practical Guide to Doing Business in Brunei

  1. Regulatory Environment
  2. Establishing a Presence
  3. Intellectual Property Protection
  4. Staff Recruitment
  5. Tax Considerations
  6. Import/Export Procedures
  7. Further Information

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