Hire in Myanmar (Burma)
Here’s where you get started with human resources best practices and hiring in Myanmar.
Myanmar Kyat (MMK)
Nay Pyi Taw
Key Country Facts
Laws and Customs
The legal process in Myanmar is unpredictable, lacks transparency and is open to interference from powerful political and business interests. Under Myanmar law, insulting religion is a prosecutable offence. Insulting religion is a broad term, and can include any disrespectful depiction or image (including tattoos) of Buddha or other religious representation, or wearing any tattoo of Buddha anywhere below the waist.
The culture of Myanmar has been heavily influenced by Buddhism and the Mon people. Burmese culture has also been influenced by its neighbours. In more recent times, British colonial rule and westernisation have influenced aspects of Burmese culture, including language and education.
The official language of Myanmar (also known as Burma) is Burmese. It is also the most widely spoken language in the country. English is an important foreign language. Although Burmese is used as the primary language of instruction in schools across the country, English is taught as a secondary language.
Myanmar HR at a Glance
Labor laws in Myanmar are outdated, and there is no single, uniform piece of employment legislation regulating employment in Myanmar. Instead, different acts and laws exist to regulate the employment sector, including the Leave and Holidays Act (1951), the Factories Act (1951), the Workman’s Compensation Act (1923), the Employment and Training Act (1950), etc. Since its political and economic opening, Myanmar has reformed its legal framework with existing laws amended or replaced and new laws enacted.
All employment contracts in Myanmar must follow the official Employment Contract Template published by the Ministry of Labor. Under the Employment and Skills Development Law (2013), an employer must enter into written employment contracts with its employees within 30 days of employment.
The executed contract must be submitted to the relevant Township Labor Office (TLO) for registration (if the company has 5 or more employees) or else it may be declared void. Upon registration, Ministry of Labor requires that it is in bilingual format (both Burmese and English). A copy must also be given to the employee, and a third copy for the company.
Under the Employment Contract Template, the term of the employment shall be stated in detail but is no longer limited to a maximum term, with an option to extend. Employers must set out minor and major offences in an appendix to the employment contract for employees’ information. Generally, fixed Retirement Age is at 60.
Part-time employment contracts are permitted and must specify working days, working start and end times and working hours per week. Part-time employees may not work more than 32 hours per week. A part-time employee is entitled to the same rights as a full-time employee unless stated otherwise in the Labour Law. This includes collective bargaining agreements if any, internal work rules and annual leave entitlements (pro-rated to the total hours worked in any given year).
Not required but recommended. Internal work rules and regulations mentioned in the employment contract will need to be submitted to the Township Labor Office (TLO) for approval.
Either party may terminate the relationship by giving one months’ notice, but the employer must have a basis for termination.
The employer at its option may pay salary in lieu of the notice period.
If not in compliance with work obligations, prior to termination of employment, employee must have received one oral and two written warnings of poor performance and have been provided with the opportunity to rectify his/her conduct (more details on page 11).
Maximum statutory probation period shall not exceed three months. An employee may be appointed without probation period if deemed unnecessary by the employer.
Employee can resign by giving advance written notice of at least seven days. During the probation period, the employer is not required to provide reasons for termination, but 30 days notice or one month’s salary in lieu must be given.
Common practice (not statutory) in Myanmar to provide all employees with yearly bonuses of one month’s salary during the Thingyan Water Festival (Myanmar New Year) in April.
Employees terminated by notice or with payment in lieu of notice shall be entitled to severance payment (see below for more details).
Earned leave may be carried over for up to three years.
Casual leave may not be carried over.
Required to be paid out on termination (see below for more details).
Other Standard Items
Travel allowance, meal allowance and phone allowance are common but not obligatory and are subject to PIT in all cases.
Many employers grant medical allowances or supplementary medical insurance to their employees, both out of corporate social responsibility and retention purposes.
Employers must pay social insurance at the rate of 3%, of which 2% is to be paid into the Health and Social Care fund and 1% into the Employment Injury Benefit fund. Maximum monthly contribution for employer is MMK 9,000 (see below for more details).
The maximum number of hours per week is 44-48 (or 8 hours per day), depending on the settings. Any hours above this will require overtime pay which is at double the worker’s normal rate.
The law stipulates a minimum break period of 30 minutes during the work day, usually taken at lunch.
Mandatory overtime payments must be paid for every hour/day worked beyond the prescribed limits (see below for more details).
Tax and Social Security
PERSONAL INCOME TAX (PIT)
A foreigner who has lived in Myanmar for at least 183 days during the income year is considered a resident. Foreigners who are not working in Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) project and reside in Myanmar for less than 183 days are considered as non-resident foreigners.
The tax rates for resident and non-resident employees are now at the same progressive rates from 0% to 25%. Although for resident taxpayers, the PIT rates are applied on their worldwide income after deduction of the reliefs and allowances above, while for non-residents, the PIT rates are applied on their Myanmar-sourced salary income without any deduction.
DEDUCTIONS ALLOWED FOR CALCULATION OF PIT
Tax reliefs and allowances for Myanmar residents
A: Basic allowance of 20% of annual salary income, capped at MMK 10,000,000
B: MMK 500,000 per annum for each child living with the taxpayer who fulfills ALL these following criteria:
- is unmarried
- is not earning assessable income
- is either under 18, or if over 18, must be a full-time student
C: MMK 1,000,000 for one non-working spouse who is living with the taxpayer
D: MMK 1,000,000 per parent for dependent parents living with the taxpayer. The term “parent” includes a father- or mother-in-law
E: Premiums for life insurance of the taxpayer and taxpayer’s spouse
F: Contributions to savings funds approved by the Internal Revenue Department (IRD)
G: Social security contributions made by employees to the Social Security Board (2% of annual salary, capped at MMK 72,000)
PIT RATES APPLICABLE TO TAXABLE INCOME:
|Taxable Income (MMK)||Tax Rate %|
|0 – 2,000,000||Exempt|
|2,000,001 – 5,000,000||5|
|5,000,001 – 10,000,000||10|
|10,000,001 – 20,000,000||15|
|20,000,001 – 30,000,000||20|
PIT: EMPLOYER REQUIREMENTS
Employers with more than five employees fall under the purview of §11 of the Social Security Law (2012) requiring compulsory registration of its employees with the Social Security Board (SSB). The benefits provided to employees under the Social Security plan, detailed in the Social Security Law (2012), include leave entitlements and monetary amounts for each benefit, such as sickness benefits, maternity benefits, funeral benefits, temporary disability benefits, and permanent disability benefits. It’s voluntary for employers with up to five employees, but many companies choose to enroll from the first employee.
The rates of contribution by employees and employers are 2% and 3% of the total salaries and wages, respectively. The contribution must be in Myanmar kyats, regardless of the currency in which the employee is paid.
Effective from April 1st, 2014, the maximum monthly contribution for the employer is MMK 9,000 per employee, and MMK 6,000 for the employee. Contributions are deductible by the employee for tax purposes. The employer is obligated to withhold the employees’ contributions from their salaries. Employees are required to undergo a health check-up in order to qualify for enrollment to Social Security.
Contributions cover only basic access to medical care expenses and cash benefit: for sickness, maternity, funeral grants, and cash transferred to the family assistance fund. Currently, there is very basic coverage under the Social Security Plan for medical care expenses and a cash benefit for sickness for work related accidents and illnesses. The Social Security Plan is still in its infancy but has been designed to later include additional benefits, such as invalidity, survivor benefit insurance, unemployment benefits, and the provision of a housing fund. It is unclear when these additional benefits will be included in the Social Security Plan.
BENEFITS AND PENSIONS
There are no mandatory pension obligations, except for civil servants. A retired employee who has paid contributions to the Health and Social Care fund for at least 180 months is entitled to medical treatment provided by a specified clinic. Some companies voluntarily provide benefits, such as private health insurance coverage, provident funds, other savings plans, and employee stock option plans (ESOPs), for their employees. Voluntary benefits are not regulated and are offered through and detailed within internal company policies or other documentation; thus, information on the extent of voluntary benefits that companies are providing is scarce.
Salaries must be paid at the end of every month for companies with up to 100 employees and within 5 to 10 days after the end of the month in all other cases. All salary payments shall be paid in kyat or any foreign currency recognized by the Central Bank of Myanmar. Payment may be made either by cash, check, or transferred into the employee’s bank account, if the employer and employee both agree. Overseas transfer of salaries must be approved by the Central Bank of Myanmar.
Upon termination, salary shall be paid within 2 days from the termination date. Upon resignation, salary shall be paid by the end of employment.
Monthly available on website, pdf, or paper.
The Leave and Holidays Act (1951) mandates a minimum of one paid rest day per week.
On average, there are 25 public holidays per year. If an employee is required to work on any official public holidays, he/she shall be paid double the usual pay rate. See list of public holidays on page 14.
Casual leave: Every employee is entitled to six days of annual paid casual leave. Casual leave may not be carried over to the subsequent year, and may not be taken for more than three consecutive days at a time except in the case of religious or compulsory social events (e.g. weddings, funerals). Casual leave may not be enjoyed in conjunction with any other type of leave.
Earned leave: The employee is entitled to 10 days of earned leave after 12 continuous months of service. Earned leave may be enjoyed for 10 days consecutively or separately per year of employment, provided the employee has completed 12 consecutive months of service with a minimum of 20 working days per month. Earned leave may be accumulated and carried over for up to three years, as agreed between the employer and the employee.
Sick leave is governed by the Leave and Holidays Act (1951). Employees contributing to the Social Security Fund may further be entitled to additional leave and other benefits as stipulated in the Social Security Law (2012).
Under the Leave and Holidays Act (1951), employees are entitled to 30 days of paid sick leave per year, if they have completed six months of service. If 6 months service has not been completed, the employee can be granted sick leave without pay.
Employees covered by the Social Security Law (2012) are also entitled to 30 days of sick leave, if they have completed six months of service, but may enjoy additional leave in case of certain work injuries and illnesses. Theoretically, employees covered by the Social Security Law (2012) may receive part of their salary from the Social Security Fund, but in practice, such sick leave is often granted as paid leave.
Maternity & Paternity Leave
Under the Leave and Holidays Act (1951), all female employees are entitled to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave (six weeks before confinement and eight weeks after confinement). Employees covered by the Social Security Law (2012) are also entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave. However, employees may further take an additional four weeks in case of twins or up to six weeks in case of a miscarriage, except for criminal abortion. Theoretically, employees covered by the Social Security Law (2012) may receive part of their salary from the Social Security Fund, but in practice, such maternity leave is often granted as paid leave.
Male employees covered by the Social Security Law (2012) may enjoy 15 days of paternity leave after confinement of their wife.
It is common practice for employees to provide notice of 3 months (before birth) to the employer.
If the employee has worked for the employer for more than one year, and contributed at least 6 months to social security, she will be entitled to receive 70% of her salary. This is paid for by social security, and the employer does not have to pay the salary (or make the social security contributions) during maternity leave.
Maternity & Parental Leave
All female employees are eligible for maternity benefits. The maternity benefit is subsidised by the INSS to the employee for a period of 120 days. This period may commence up to 28 days before the due birth date. The employer is responsible to pay this benefit, they can then deduct the relevant amount from the social security contributions due to the INSS.
Male employees are entitled to 5 days of paid paternity leave.
Under certain circumstances the maternity leave may be extended to 180 days and the paternity leave to 20 days, provided some requirements established by the government program are observed.
Parents adopting are also entitled to the same 120 days for female employees and five days for male employees.
Funeral leave: The new Employment Contract Template introduces funeral leave. Employees are entitled to leave in accordance with the law without deduction from their minimum wage in case of death of a parent or family member. If the statutory leave entitlement has been exhausted, unpaid leave may be granted upon mutual agreement between employer and employee.
Benefits to Employees in Myanmar
|Term of Employment||Severance Amount|
|6 months – 1 year||0.5 month’s salary|
|1 – 2 years||1 month’s salary|
|2 – 3 years||1.5 month’s salary|
|3 – 4 years||3 month’s salary|
|4 -6 years||4 month’s salary|
|6 – 8 years||5 month’s salary|
|8 – 10 years||6 month’s salary|
|10 – 20 years||8 month’s salary|
|20 – 25 years||10 month’s salary|
|>25 years||13 month’s salary|
RESIGNATION AND TERMINATION
Mutual Agreement – No severance
Resignation with one month’s notice – no severance
Immediate termination due to grave misconduct – no severance
Immediate termination with up to 3 written warnings issue – no severance
Severance is paid only for all other reasons and with one month’s notice given.
Overtime may be carried out in accordance with Myanmar labor law and upon mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. Under the Shops and Establishment Law (2016), hours worked exceeding 8 hours per day or 44-48 hours per week are considered overtime. Overtime is restricted to no more than 12 hours per week, or 16 hours in cases of special needs. Employees should not work or be allowed to work after midnight.
Mandatory overtime payments must be paid for every hour/day worked beyond the prescribed limits and must be paid at double the rate of the basic wage/salary. Employers must obtain permission of relevant authorities, e.g. the Factories and General Labor Laws Inspection Department for implementation of a constant overtime policy.
BENEFITS AND PENSIONS
There are no mandatory pension obligations, except for civil servants. A retired employee who has paid contributions to the Health and Social Care fund for at least 180 months is entitled to medical treatment provided by a specified clinic. Some companies voluntarily provide benefits, such as private health insurance coverage, provident funds, other savings plans, and employee stock option plans (ESOPs) for their employees. Voluntary benefits are not regulated and are offered through and detailed within internal company policies or other documentation; thus, information on the extent of voluntary benefits that companies are providing is scarce.
Visas and Foreign Workers
Myanmar has yet to establish a comprehensive work permit system for foreign workers. Currently, foreign employees can work in Myanmar under a business visa. In accordance with the Registration of Foreigners Act (1940) and the Registration of Foreigners Rules (1948), foreigners wishing to remain in Myanmar for more than 90 days must also apply for a foreigner’s registration certificate (FRC). However, this requirement is not always strictly adhered to in practice. There is also a stay permit available for application, which is compulsory for foreign employees working with entities registered with the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).
FRCs are primarily applied for foreigners requiring a Long-Term Stay Permit or working for enterprises established under the previous Foreign Investment Law (2012) or the new Myanmar Investment Law (2016). The additional issuance of a Long-Term Stay Permit within Myanmar, which is only available to persons holding an FRC, allows foreigners to stay in Myanmar for the full term of the visa.
PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING APPROVAL FOR A BUSINESS VISA
For a 70-day, single-entry business visa, an application must be submitted to the Myanmar embassy in the applicant’s country of residence. The Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population (MLIP) also allows foreign nationals to apply for a 70-day, single-entry business e-visa online at https://evisa.moip.gov.mm/.
Foreign employees who have obtained at least two 70-day, single-entry business visas can apply for a multiple-entry visa valid for three months, six months or a year at the Myanmar embassy or consulate. Applications for renewals can be submitted to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.
Processing time depends on the Myanmar embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of residence and may range between one to five days.
PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING APPROVAL FOR A FOREIGNER REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE
Applications should be submitted to the Foreigners Affairs Department of the MLIP. The application process is cumbersome. Apart from the documents required for the application of a business visa, this process also requires a recommendation letter from the ministry related to the employer’s nature of business, depending on the company registration, in addition to other paperwork.
Foreign registration certificate holders are expected to report their entry and exit into the country to the immigration department and pay a fee (about US$6) for every re-entry.
Public Holidays in 2022
|1.||Independence Day||January 4th|
|2.||Lunar New Year Holiday||February 1st – 2nd|
|3.||Union Day||February 12th|
|4.||Peasants’ Day||March 2nd|
|5.||Full Moon Day of Tabaung||March 16th|
|6.||Armed Forces Day||March 27th|
|7.||Thingyan Festival (Myanmar New Year)||April 11th – 13th|
|8.||Good Friday||April 15th|
|9.||Labour Day||May 2nd|
|10.||Vesak Day||May 16th|
|11.||Full Moon Day of Waso||July 12th|
|12.||Martyrs’ Day||July 19th|
|13.||Thadingyut Holidays||October 10th|
|14.||Tazaungdaing Holidays||November 7th|
|15.||Myanmar National Day||November 17th|
|16.||Kayin New Year||December 22nd|
|17.||Christmas Holiday||December 25th – 26th|
|18.||New Year Eve||December 30th|
* 2 public holidays for Eid al-Adha and Deepavali will be announced separately.