Employing people in Papua New Guinea: an overview


An overview of the requirements on employers in Papua New Guinea, including relevant laws and regulations.

Like all nations, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has laws pertaining to operating a business and employing its citizens and non-citizens. Thus, it is important that organisations intending to operate and employ Papua New Guineans and non-citizen residents and/or expatriate personnel should take the time to familiarise themselves with the relevant laws of PNG.

PNG is a developing and relatively young nation and may not have a large supply of the array of skilled personnel that your business venture or project may need. On the other hand, PNG does have an educated elite and produces its own graduates, tradespersons and trainees across a range of disciplines. Most citizens are educated in PNG tertiary institutions; however, there are a significant number that have gained international education and tertiary qualifications. Thus, depending on the nature of your business you may be able to fill a number of your key roles with Papua New Guineans.

To help new businesses understand where required personnel may come from, the PNG Government has published information that details the roles that are restricted to citizens, those that are open to both citizens and non-citizens, and those that must be advertised seeking PNG candidates in the first instance.

If you are intending to employ non-citizens of PNG we recommend you purchase the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations (DLIR) publications: Work Permit Guidelines: A General Guide to the Foreign Employment System in PNG (Version 1, 01/01/09), and Work Permit Guidelines: A guide to the Foreign Employment Industrial Divisions and Classification of Occupations (Version 1, 01/01/09). These publications can be downloaded from the Department’s website at www.workpermits.gov.pg.

It is also important to appreciate that, if your organisation intends to employ non-citizens, then you must also complete and submit a Training and Localisation Plan that outlines the initiatives your organisation will take to develop PNG citizens and over time build capability to enable PNG citizens to work in the roles currently requiring expertise of non-citizens. For more information, we recommend you contact the DLIR.

In essence, each non-citizen you employ to work in PNG will need both a Work Permit and a Visa. The Work Permit and Visa are unique to the role, employer and person, and any variation of role, employer or person will require a new Work Permit and Visa application.

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There are some visas available, i.e. Business Visa and Restricted Employment Visa, that allow certain types of business activity to be conducted without an accompanying work permit and these are defined on the www.ica.gov.pg web page and covered later in this guide’s visa section.

While not legally required, we recommend you engage a registered employment agent to assist you with interfacing with the DLIR. These are regulated under the Employment Act 1978 and licensed by the Department on an annual basis. Information on licensing and regulation of employment agents can be obtained from the DLIR.

In the following sections, we give an overview of the regulations and procedures and then provide an opinion of living in PNG.

Useful contacts

  • Immigration and Citizenship Authority (clientservices@immigration.gov.pg  www.ica.gov.pg +675 327 6100)
  • Department of Labour and Industrial Relations’ Foreign Employment Division (+675 325 2911, enquiries@workpermits.gov.pg, www.workpermits.gov.pg)
  • Investment Promotion Authority (www.ipa.gov.pg), ispd@ipa.gov.pg +675 308 4413
  • Business Registration and Certification (registrar.companies@ipa.gov.pg +675 308 4439)
  • Employers Federation of Papua New Guinea (information@efpng.com.pg  www.efpng.org.pg +675 325 8266/8249)
  • PNG International Education Agency (www.ieapng.net +675 3023900)

This article prepared by Scott Roberts (Managing Director, Pacific People Solutions) and George Griffin (Managing Director, CC Pacific).

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