Working in East Africa
The EAC Common Market Protocol allows workers from any Partner State to accept employment within any other EAC country. They cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their nationality.
Furthermore, a worker will have the right to social security benefits and can be accompanied by a spouse and children.
It is however worth noting that, Employment in the public service is excluded unless permitted by the particular Partner State.
Using the ILO classification, Partner States have committed to open up for the following categories of workers:
- Burundi - Professionals; By 1st July 2010
- Kenya - Managers, Professionals, Technicians and Associate Professionals, and Craft and Related Trades Workers; By 1st July 2010
- Rwanda - Professionals and Technicians and Associate Professionals; By 1st July 2010
- Tanzania - Professionals and Technicians and Associate Professionals; Ranging from 1st July 2010 to 2015
- Uganda - Managers, Professionals and Craft and Related Trades Workers; By 1st July 2010
Entry, Stay and Exit
A citizen of a Partner State, who seeks to enter or exit the territory of another Partner State as a worker, shall do so at entry or exit points designated in accordance with the national laws of the Partner State and shall comply with the established immigration procedures.
A worker who has a contract of employment of a period of more than 90 days in the territory of another Partner State shall apply to the competent authority for a work permit within 15 working days from the date of entry into the territory of the host Partner State.
Where a worker secures employment for a period of not more than 90 days, the worker shall apply for, and be issued with a special pass.
Where the competent authority rejects an application for a work permit, the competent authority shall in writing, notify the applicant, stating the reasons for the rejection.
*Important to note
The Republics of Kenya and Rwanda have abolished work permit fees for East African nationals working in the two countries.
Access to Employment Opportunities
The Partner States shall endeavour to collect and disseminate information on job vacancies and put in place labour market information systems to facilitate access to employment opportunities by the citizens of the Community.
Equal Treatment in Employment
The Partner States provide for regular labour inspections and any other appropriate measures to ensure that the same treatment is accorded to the workers from other Partner States as is accorded to the nationals of the Partner State with regard to:
- terms and conditions of employment;
- equal opportunities for both men and women and in particular, access to employment;
- occupational health and safety;
- contribution to a social security scheme;
- access to vocational training;
- the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining;
- access to dispute resolution mechanism; and
- any other right accruing to a worker under the provisions of the national laws of the Partner State.
EAC citizens have the right to establish their business in any Partner State and pursue economic activities in accordance with the national laws of the Partner State.
Self-employed persons are able to carry out their work across the region, and be entitled to social security schemes in the host country.
The Protocol requires Partner States to remove all restrictions on the right of establishment based on the nationality of the companies, firms and self-employed persons.
For more information on Self-employment regulations, refer to the Common Market Annex on Right of Establishment.