Working in Cambodia
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Find out how to get a job and work in Cambodia
When working in Cambodia, a lot of things are often unclear to expats. The economy, the job search, social security, taxation, and work permits – all these aspects can be quite confusing. Read our Relocation Guide for advice on these topics concerning working in Cambodia.
Employment in Cambodia
At a Glance:
- Garment-making and tourism are the main economic sectors in Cambodia, but skilled professionals are also highly sought after.
- Whether you want to teach English or work in a multinational company, online portals are the best place to start your job search.
- You don’t need to be granted permanent residency in Cambodia in order to be considered a resident there, so you will most likely still be taxed.
Cambodia’s Economy: A Slow Recovery
Since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia’s economy has seen a slow and steady recovery. Following the long conflict in Cambodia, the country began receiving foreign aid, which it is still heavily reliant on.
The garment industry is the most important part of Cambodia’s manufacturing sector, and one of the biggest contributors to the country’s economy, accounting for about 80% of all exports, and employing around 700,000 workers, around 90% of whom are women.
The tourism industry is another source of income for Cambodia, with the country boasting several popular tourist hotspots, most significantly the Angkor Wat temple. Since 2007, the number of visitors to the country each year has exceeded two million. In 2016, Cambodia welcomed just over five million visitors.
Still, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, struggling with corruption, limited access to quality education, and significant income inequality. The adoption of a free market economy in the 1990s, as well as opening up to foreign investment, enabled rapid economic growth in Cambodia. Yet, at the same time, this has led to increased consumerism and great inequality among its citizens. If you plan on working in Cambodia, you should be aware that the job prospects are not the best or most varied, and expat salaries are generally not as high as in many other countries.
How to Find a Job in Cambodia
If the state of the country’s economy has not changed your mind about working in Cambodia, then it is a good idea to start looking for a job as soon as possible. As mentioned above, the job situation is rather poor. However, as a highly-skilled professional, you might have somewhat of an advantage.
Many foreigners working in Cambodia are there as part of their travels, looking to experience a new culture for a while and work while doing so. If you are not looking for a career at the moment, and are simply looking to earn enough to cover basic living expenses, then teaching English could be a good option. Cambodia has lots of private language schools which are constantly looking for new staff. Bear in mind that these jobs are usually poorly paid, but should provide you with enough to get by and enjoy your life while living in Cambodia. These are some websites which can be useful in finding a teaching job overseas:
International travel and teaching websites, such as Go Abroad, can also help you find a teaching job in Cambodia. You can also visit language centers and international schools in person once in the country, and inquire about a job opening. Keep in mind that you will likely need teaching qualifications to work in an international school.
The Job Hunt
If you are looking for more than just a run-of-the-mill teaching job, you should probably find out which of the international companies are hiring. Not only will they pay more, they might also be looking for someone with just your qualifications. There are two English-language daily newspapers with job listings, the Cambodia Daily and the Phnom Penh Post. Additionally, you can turn to one of the general online classifieds if you plan on working in Cambodia:
Because of the relative ease with which you can secure a visa and a work permit in Cambodia, many expats decide to start their own business there. If you plan on working in Cambodia but want to remain your own boss, this might be the perfect opportunity for you.
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Cambodia: Work Permits, Tax and Social Security
The Myth of the Cambodian Work Permit
Cambodian work permits are a confusing and mysterious affair, and one that is particularly poorly regulated. According to the 1997 Labor Law, every foreign employee is required to have a work permit. However, many expats live and work in Cambodia without a work permit, simply because they are not aware, or do not think, they need one. While you may have previously got away with this, officials have tightened up on enforcing this law. If you want to avoid a hefty fine, we recommend that you get a work permit — better safe than sorry.
If you want to learn more about Cambodian visa requirements, take a look at our guide article on moving to Cambodia.
The Development of Social Security in Cambodia
In the Cambodian constitution of 1993, the government laid out details of a social security system, to which all Cambodian citizens are entitled. The social security rights apply to all formal workers, and guarantee citizens social benefits such as access to pension schemes and compensation for work-related injuries or illnesses.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF), which was introduced in 2008, is responsible for providing social security — including an employment injury scheme, a health insurance scheme, and a pension scheme — to registered members who work in the private sector. The NSSF currently covers 18 out of 24 of the Cambodian provinces.
The health insurance scheme was only introduced in late 2015, and the pension scheme in 2017, so it is yet to be seen to what extent they work. Civil servants are covered under the National Social Security Fund for Civil Servants (NSSF-C9), while Armed Forces personnel and the Police are covered by the National Fund for Veterans (NFV). Civil servants receive various benefits in the form of sick leave, paid maternity leave, old-age pension, and work injury coverage. In addition to these, employers are required to provide benefits to formal sector workers such as paid maternity leave or healthcare coverage. It is best to talk to your employer about the type of benefits they provide and ensure private coverage if necessary.
It’s Time To Talk about Taxes…
For tax purposes, you are considered a Cambodian resident if your principal place of abode is there, or if you are in the country for more than 182 days per calendar year.
As a resident, your worldwide salary is taxed, while non-residents are only taxed for salary from a Cambodian “source”. Your employer will withhold this tax from your salary and pay it to the tax administration on your behalf.
The tax rates for resident tax payers are as follows:
- 0% for a salary of up to KHR 1,000,000
- 5% for a salary of up to KHR 1,500,000
- 10% for a salary of up to KHR 8,500,000
- 15% for a salary of up to KHR 12,500,000
- 20% for a salary over KHR 12,500,000
In addition to salary tax, expats might have to pay taxes on profits or imports and exports. If you are unsure, you should contact the General Department of Taxation for more information.
Business Etiquette in Cambodia
When working in Cambodia, it is important to keep a few things in mind during meetings and negotiations. For instance, hierarchy might play a much bigger role there than in your home country. The most senior person in the office is usually the decision maker. Your Cambodian business partners will introduce people with the honorific title “Lok” (for men) or “Lok Srey” (for women).
When you exchange business cards, usually after the initial introduction, make sure that you present them with your right hand or both hands. Have one side of the card translated into Khmer and present it with that side up. Although it might sound strange, it is important that you treat business cards with respect. Give your business partners time to build up trust towards you.
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