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Jobs in Bali…the Current Situation


It’s a dream shared by many and just the thought of living and working on Bali can get most anyone excited. But, the reality is that this dream is extremely difficult to materialize.

Jobs for foreigners on Bali are very hard to find…legal jobs that is, and the penalty if caught illegally working on Bali is severe…up to 5 years in prison, up to a US $50,000 fine, and permanent deportation.

The laws and regulations in Indonesia regarding the employment of foreign workers are based on the government’s commitment to preserve jobs for Indonesian citizens. Before a job is filled by a foreign worker it is required by the employer to satisfy the Manpower Development office that a qualified Indonesian candidate for that job cannot be found.

Because of the way in which employment laws are regulated here, it most often is the illegal employee who suffers the consequences of being caught working without the proper work permit as issued by the Manpower Development office and the proper KITAS visa, or temporary residence visa as issued by immigration. With that alone in mind, beware of ANY job offers which do not make it clear that your employer will obtain the necessary KITAS visa and work permit for you. Without these documents you are not legally working, and you are subject to the penalties mentioned earlier.

You should also be aware that free lance working, consulting, running an internet based business or any sort of work activity under any sort of limited stay (tourist) visa is also strictly prohibited. Any activity here which generates payment of funds to you while in Indonesia is considered work activity, and you must have a work permit to conduct such activity.

Back in “the good old days” and as any long time seasoned expat such as myself can tell you, things were not as strict as they are today. Just last year there were some Protected content deported from Bali (after fines and some jail time) for illegal work activity. That’s more than all the 15 prior years combined.

Raids on places of employment where expats are often found to be employed such as restaurants, bars, hotels, spas, schools, tourist attractions, shops, etc. are now commonplace and regularly conducted by immigration authorities.

With the election of President Jokowi last July, there have been a lot of changes with the Ministers of various government agencies and the new Minister of Manpower Development is committed to see that all foreigners working in Indonesia have a good proficiency in Bahasa Indonesia. While the details on this are still being worked out, (see the thread under “Town Talk”), anyone considering a job in Indonesia…even if the plan is to work in your own business…should be preparing themselves for the possibility that this new regulation may in fact become implemented.

While I am not suggesting to anyone that they give up their dream of living and working on Bali, it is essential to be aware of difficult road you will encounter in realizing that dream.