Indonesia is becoming well known as one of the largest emerging markets in the world with increasingly attractive options for foreigners seeking work in cities like Jakarta, which for many years has enjoyed a growing economy and fruitful job market for people with specialized skills. Here’s what you need to know about the employment of foreigners in Indonesia
The process of coming to work in Indonesia is riddled with complex issues related to work visas, bureaucracy, labour laws and nasty regulations that can change from one year to the next.
Foreigners who seek work in Indonesia must understand that the Indonesian government wishes to decrease unemployment in the country. This is an important point because historically there has been a policy in place which confirmed that the government does not want a company in Indonesia – domestic or foreign – to hire an expat for a job that can be done by a local.
According to recent information from local market entry firm Indosight, as a foreign national, you can no longer pursue a professional endeavor in human resources, legal, health, safety, and environment affairs, supply chain management or quality control and inspection without exceptional circumstances.
Past policies have created a barrier by stating that only foreigners who are deemed as “experts” in their field can work in Indonesia. Consequently, if you plan on spontaneously arriving in Indonesia to find work, it may not be wise to do so. These days, it’s going to be best to start looking for work before arriving in the archipelago.
Searching for a job in Indonesia is not easy. Finding a suitable job opening is not always as easy as going onto JobStreet or JobsDB, for example. It is often the case that foreigners arrive in Jakarta because of an assignment from a company that employs them at home or through an agency. This said, individuals can still obtain employment in Indonesia via internet forums and often by directly emailing companies of interest. It also helps to attend networking events (of which there are many in Jakarta these days).
Most foreigners working here are usually employed by foreign companies, teach English or work in the export sector. However, it’s worth noting that in recent years, Indonesia’s tech startup and e-commerce sectors has become increasingly vibrant with foreign founders and overseas talent. Because of the previously mentioned “expert” requirement, younger expats often work as English teachers, while older professionals are often employed as consultants, engineers, and developers in industries like mining and oil and gas.
In terms of visas, it is best to have the company that employed you facilitate the process. This is because it is a lengthy and an incredibly bureaucratic process. You must obtain an appropriate visa to work in Indonesia. Documents like visa-on-arrival and a business visa do not legally allow foreigners to work in the country, even if you are able to stay for up to two months.
Any company that hires an expatriate in Indonesia must submit an application with the government to accept foreigners. If the government approves the application, the expat can be issued a work permit.
Indosight says the general requirements do not specify any age limitation. With this in mind, you can be eligible for a work permit (IMTA) at basically any age — even as young as 21 years old — provided that you already possess at least five years of work experience.
Requirements for artists or foreign workers, assuming an urgent or temporary position, may differ. More specific rules may also apply depending on your respective industry. If you work in the oil and gas industry, for example, you are required by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to be between the ages of 30 and 55.
This age restriction does not apply if you have the highest-level position in your firm, with the moniker ‘Director’, ‘Chief of the Representative Office’ or ‘Commissioner’, for example. It also does not apply if you possess “a very specific expertise crucial to your company/institution”.
The IMTA is vital because if you do not have it, you are not working legally in Indonesia. The employer applies to the Manpower Department for the expat to receive a work permit. If the plan is approved, foreign employees can apply for a KITAS card (local ID) and work legally until there is a requirement for re-application.
The explanation of visa requirements and applications is greatly outside the scope of this discussion, and thus, it is highly recommended that you visit a number of websites that explain how the process works (Indosight has always been a trustable reference).
Once you find employment and your employer begins the process of obtaining a work permit, it is beneficial for to you to research the working culture in Indonesia. It is important to always be knowledgeable on the culture that you are about to enter. However, it is even more vital to prepare yourself to enter a workforce in a country that may be quite different from your own. There is much information available on the topic, including public forums and blogs written by expats.
Overall, working in Indonesia is a wonderful experience, but in order to become a proper employee, you must prepare diligently and with great care. Pay attention to your work contract, speak to human resources about such topics as work permits and KITAS, and mentally prepare yourself for a rather bureaucratic process.
(This article is meant for information and media purposes only. Indonesia Expat does not purport to disseminate legal advice).
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