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CLD Insights

New Provisions on Labor Migration

On March 9, 2023, Executive Decree No. 4 of 2023 was published in the Official Gazette, regulating articles 17 to 19 of the Labor Code, establishing new provisions on migration categories for obtaining work permits in Panama. It details the requirements and parameters for each type of work permit, the obligations of both foreign workers and their employers, among other aspects.


New categories of work permits are contemplated, such as the category for foreign personnel hired by a Micro or Small enterprise. Work permits have been classified into 6 types: Work Permits equivalent to local labor; Authorized Percentages by the Labor Code; Special Laws (Multinationals, Manufacturing Companies, Cinematography, etc.); Humanitarian Protection; Special Conditions; Temporary.


It is established that a foreigner who has obtained permanent residence in Panama may apply for a work permit in any migration category.

Exceptional cases are established in which a higher proportion regarding the established percentages of 15% for hiring specialist or technical foreign workers may be allowed.


The obligation to recognize foreign workers' payment of their labor benefits is reiterated, regardless of their immigration status and whether or not they have an approved work permit.


"Local labor" is defined as foreign workers with a work permit under:

  1. Ten or more years of residence,

  2. With a spouse of Panamanian nationality,

  3. With special permanent residence,

  4. Family reunification,

  5. Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between Panama Italy, and

  6. Dependents of diplomatic consular, administrative personnel, and international organizations accredited in Panama.


Employers who keep foreign workers with applications for extensions of their work permits in process will not be sanctioned, as long as these extensions are submitted before the expiry date of the work permits.


Regarding work permits for SEM and EMMA personnel, a category for positions of middle and high-level managers (permanent personnel) SEM is included, in the same way for the EMMA regime.


Among other aspects including, for temporary workers, for foreigners under the protection of the Panamanian Government, and more.


Consult all the details of this Decree and its impact on the operations of your company, info@cldlegal.com



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