African payroll legislation – how to get the information you need

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As Africa’s economy continues to strengthen – the expected GDP growth rate is 1.9% in 2018, and 2.1% in 2019 – many companies are turning their attention towards starting operations on the continent. But doing that is easier said than done. Africa’s employment regulations are complex, and you will have to do in depth research to ensure you’re working with the latest information for your company to be compliant with local payroll legislation.

It bears repeating that Africa is a continent of 54 countries, and that each country will have its own rules and regulations. You must have access to the legislative and regulatory information in each country that your company is going to be operating in. Depending on the level of digital infrastructure, online access to this information might not be available and hard copies could be in short supply.

This could cause a delay when setting up your business on the continent, so build waiting time into your business’ set up plans – it is always better to wait until you have the right information rather than bulldoze ahead and run into problems with the local authorities. Noncompliance comes at a price, with significant penalties, and reputational damage to your company.

So, how do you access the correct payroll legislation in countries where access to information is limited? Here are a few things you can do.

  1. Work with a ‘person on the ground’

If you realise the information you need isn’t available online, it’s a good idea to work with someone on the ground who can help you access and interpret the latest documents. This could be a local payroll or HR adviser, or your own local payroll team employee.

In addition to local insights, you might need help making sense of legislative documents that don’t have English versions available – so you’ll need someone who speaks the local language.

  1. Get in touch with local government

In certain African countries, rule changes can come suddenly and without warning. This is because, in some areas, the bureaucratic and political hurdles that normally stand in the way of changing legislation don’t exist.

In this case, it isn’t about what you know, but who you know. Knowing someone in local government who can relay information about changes to payroll laws is invaluable. As such, it is worth investing the time to make contact with the local government and attempt to establish relationships within the relevant departments.

It would also be helpful to know somebody in the local tax office, as they can advise help you negotiate any initial hurdles as you’re getting set up.

  1. Work with a payroll provider with an African network

The easiest way to get access to African payroll legislation, is, however to work with a company that already has all this information on hand. They will understand how to work across national and international lines, and will have their own networks of government, local HR, and payroll specialist contacts to draw on. This means you’ll be 100% compliant from the get-go with minimum effort from your side.

PaySpace’s payroll specialists are on the ground in Africa – tha’st how we make sure we always have the most up to date payroll legislation – and we’ve found it to be very effective. You can learn more about PaySpace’s African payroll & HR services here.