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- Jan-Peter van Tijk
What fascinates me about InterNations? I did not only make new friends but found new business partners, too.
Employment in Morocco
- Morocco is experiencing steady economic growth; however, income inequality and unemployment remain high.
- Casablanca is the headquarters of a lot of multinational companies in the country.
- It is strongly advised to get private health insurance as an expatriate.
Morocco has a diverse and open market-oriented economy, which benefits greatly from its proximity to Europe. This stable economy has been marked by steady growth and low inflation in recent years, although a poor harvest and the economic difficulties in Europe lead to an economic slowdown in 2012. However, 2015 provided a decent economic performance, with the help of public investment and domestic consumption; the economy experienced a growth rate of 4.9%, compared to the 2.4% of 2014.
Three-fourths of the people working in Morocco live in the coastal plains and plateaus. This area includes most of Morocco’s cities and modern agricultural lands. Some major challenges still facing the Moroccan economy include corruption, high illiteracy, particularly in rural areas, high unemployment (10%), and poverty.
Key Economic Sectors
Morocco’s GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) reached 274.5 billion USD in 2015. Key sectors of the economy include agriculture, tourism, textiles, phosphate rock mining and processing, food canning, construction, energy, and subcomponents.
The economy remains dependent on the state of the agricultural sector, in which 39.1% of the people working in Morocco are employed. The remainder of the workforce either works in the industry sector (20.3%) or the services sector. Tourism is a major industry within the service sector, with over nine million visitors to the kingdom in 2013.
However, tourism revenue is beginning to fall because of the situation in neighboring countries. In fact, Tunisia experienced violent protest during the ‘Arab Spring’, and several terrorist attacks have recently shaken the country. In addition to this, the terrorist organization ISIS has recruited members from Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, and there is a certain risk of terrorists returning to their home countries to commit further attacks.
Expats working in Morocco have many opportunities to participate in the country’s expanding economy. Expats with technology, communications and business backgrounds are highly sought after for their expertise.
Casablanca, as the economic center of Morocco and the country’s largest industrial market, is home to the highest number of expats working in Morocco. Many expats also find jobs in Rabat and Tangier.
The Moroccan government is currently encouraging foreigners to invest in the country, which is contributing to an increase in the already high number of international and multinational companies with a subsidiary in Morocco. Many of these companies have their headquarters in Casablanca.
If you are a native English speaker, you can try to find a job working in Morocco as a teacher at an international school or an English language school. Many English schools will require you to have a TEFL certification.
Foreign nationals who do not require a visa to enter Morocco do not have to secure a job before arrival. Please note, however, that you will need to provide proof of adequate financial means when you apply for your residence permit. Therefore it is best to find a job as quickly as possible after relocating to Morocco.
If you would like to begin working in Morocco, it is vital to possess the necessary language skills. Although Standard Arabic is the working language for most government agencies and the court system, French remains the language of business in Morocco. A growing number of Moroccans can speak English, and that is the language spoken in some international companies in Morocco. However, overall it will be very difficult to work in Morocco without speaking fluent Arabic or French.
Due to the high number of international companies operating in Morocco, asking around in your network of international professional contacts is a good way to find a job. If that doesn’t turn anything up, then you can try consulting the following job portals (in French):
Foreigners who want to begin working in Morocco need to obtain a work permit (attestation de travail) from the Agence nationale de promotion de l’emploi et des competences (National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills), abbreviated as Anapec.
The work contracts of all foreign nationals working in Morocco must be assessed by Anapec to make sure that they comply with the current employment laws, and that no Moroccan citizen or permanent resident could have filled the vacancy. This procedure will often be taken care of by your employer.
The following documents will be required by the Ministère de l’Emploi in Rabat if you need to obtain the work permit yourself:
- two completed forms, with the appropriate stamps
- a copy of your passport
- two passport photos
- a copy of your employment contract, legalized at the local government administration office
- a copy of all your diplomas
Morocco: Taxation and Business Etiquette
All foreign nationals who spend more than 183 days per year in Morocco are considered full-time residents for tax purposes and are liable to pay income tax in Morocco based on their worldwide income. As of 1 January 2010, income tax in Morocco is divided into six income brackets. Depending on which bracket your income falls under, you will have to pay up to 38% income tax.
Taxable income includes salaries, pensions, and annuities, and investment and income from any property you may own. According to PWC’s 2015 report for taxation in the Middle East, taxes are due by 1 March every year. The joint filing of married couples is not possible in Morocco, so spouses must each file an individual tax return.
For more information about taxation in Morocco, please visit the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The website is available in French, Arabic, and English, but the forms are only available in French. As the information on the site is not specifically geared towards expats, it is best to consult a certified tax advisor with any specific questions you may have.
Expats in Morocco are considered an equal part of the labor force, and as such your employer will automatically enroll you in the Moroccan social security system, Caisse Nationale de Securité Sociale (CNSS). Social security contributions are mandatory, and are split between employers (6.4% of monthly compensation for family allowances) and employees (4.48% of monthly compensation, the most being 6,000 MAD). These contributions are automatically deducted from your paycheck, and cover benefits including sickness and disability allowances, paid maternity leave, and retirement pensions.
Morocco has made bilateral social security agreements with numerous countries, including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and Tunisia, as well as several others which are still under negotiation.
It may be advisable to save money in an additional pension account during your assignment in Morocco. Private insurance is also available for additional coverage in event of accident, illness or death.
More information on the Moroccan social security system can be found on the website of the Caisse Nationale de Securité Sociale.
The standard work week in Morocco has 40 hours. Employees are entitled to 18 days of paid annual leave, increasing incrementally to 21 days after ten years of employment. In addition, there are 13 public holidays per year. The notice period for redundancy dismissal increases from four weeks to nearly nine weeks depending on the length of employment.
Moroccan Business Culture
Business in Morocco is strongly influenced by French business culture, and it therefore emphasizes formality and courtesy. As Moroccan culture is a very relationship-centered culture, building up strong and trusting business relationships is vital to success in the Moroccan business world. It may take several initial meetings before big decisions will be made.
Handshakes accompany introductions between people of the same sex in Morocco. When a man and a woman are first introduced to each other, the man should wait for the woman to offer her hand for a handshake first. If she does not, the man should instead bow his head in greeting.
Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual in Morocco. One side should be translated into French or Arabic, and the business card should be presented with the translated side facing up.
Moroccans make first impressions based on one’s attire, so dress to impress. Men should wear a conservative dark suit, and women should make sure their clothing covers their knees and arms.
Meetings should be scheduled at least one or two weeks in advance, and reconfirmed a day or two beforehand. Do not schedule meetings during the five daily prayer times or between 11:00 and 15:00 on Fridays, as that is when the Muslim weekly prayer service takes place. Many people take their vacation in August, and during Ramadan business in general slows down, so don’t expect any major decisions or important meetings to take place during these time periods.
Before arriving at a meeting, make sure to ascertain which language it will be held in, so you know if you need to hire an interpreter. Most meetings will be held in French, although English is gaining in popularity. Make sure to have all materials printed out in the correct language.
It is respectful to show up on time to meetings, even if your Moroccan counterpart may be running late. Although Moroccans are skilled negotiators, they do not respond well to hard-pressure tactics. Reaching a decision is often a lengthy procedure.
Health & Safety in Morocco
Medical care in the big cities is often adequate, although it does not live up to Western standards. In July 2013, the Minister of Health admitted that there is unfortunately an inadequate number of doctors and nurses, due in part to the thousands of emigrating Moroccan doctors.
In rural areas, medical care is often non-existent. Few doctors can speak English. The US Embassy in Rabat has compiled a list of English-speaking doctors and healthcare professionals in Morocco. Due to the public healthcare system’s deficiencies, most expats choose to visit private hospitals. In fact, the public healthcare system is severely underfunded and only works decently (for Moroccan standards) in the big cities. In rural areas and small cities, it is often barely functional. Allianz Worldwide Care provides a list of private hospitals in Rabat and Casablanca.
Pharmacies can be found in all of Morocco’s cities and villages. Most over-the-counter and prescription medications can be obtained without difficulty. The opening hours are similar to those of other businesses. There are also all-night pharmacies. Each pharmacy posts a list of the locations which are open on Sundays and holidays.
No vaccinations are necessary for entering Morocco, although it may be advisable to get immunizations for Hepatitis A and B, as well as for typhoid fever. Insect-borne diseases, including typhoid and leishmaniasis, are common, although malaria is not.
Tap water can generally be consumed, although the taste of the tap water in some cities may be unpalatable to some. It is advisable to avoid raw and undercooked food, as well as swimming in fresh water, as this may expose you to schistosomiasis (bilharzia), a parasitic disease.
In case of emergency, please dial 15 for emergency medical services or 190 for the police.
In 2005, the Moroccan government introduced a mandatory public healthcare scheme for employees in the formal public and private sectors. The Assurance Maladie Obligatoire (AMO) only covers 30% of the population, though. In 2012, the government therefore introduced the Régime d’Assistance Médicale (RAMED), a non-contributory basic health insurance, to cover the informal sector, an estimated further 30% of the population. Self-employed people and their staff are currently not covered under either scheme.
The National Social Security Fund (Caisse Nationale de Securité Sociale) is responsible for managing the contributions from employees in the private sector. You, as well as your spouse and any children under 18, if they are doing an apprenticeship, or under 21, if they pursue the international baccalaureate and further study, are covered by this plan.
As this insurance only covers basic healthcare in the country’s overcrowded public hospitals, many companies offer additional top-up insurance. If your company does not offer additional insurance, you may want to look into purchasing private health insurance for yourself and your family, especially if you wish to receive care in the more expensive private hospitals.
Crime is prevalent in Morocco, particularly in major cities and tourist areas. The most common crimes involve pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, as well as theft from vehicles stopped in traffic. Weapons, usually knives, are sometimes used, but in general violent crime is not a major concern in Morocco. Theft and aggressive begging can also occur around ATMs. Women traveling alone often experience harassment. It is best to ignore this, if possible, to avoid escalating the situation.
There is a potential for terrorist violence in Morocco, so it is important that foreigners follow their embassy’s safety advice and keep up-to-date on what they say about life in Morocco. In April 2011, a terrorist attack on Jema el Fna Square in Marrakech killed 17 people and injured 25 others, many of them foreigners. Demonstrations are often held, and usually remain peaceful, but should nonetheless be avoided by expats if possible.
It is not advisable to travel within Western Sahara, as there are a large number of unexploded mines in the territory. Please note that the border to Algeria is closed and its crossing should not be attempted.
Morocco lies in an earthquake zone, and minor earthquakes are occasional occurrences. It is best to acquaint yourself with the appropriate procedure in case of an earthquake. Flash flooding is possible in the rainy season from October to March. Roads are often washed away during these months.
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- Jan-Peter van Tijk
What fascinates me about InterNations? I did not only make new friends but found new business partners, too.
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The idea to connect global minds in Rabat is just great. This plattform should have existed when I first moved here four years ago.