This Caribbean nation is very appealing to expats as a potential choice of work and residence: it is a beautiful region in which to live and work. We will look at some of the sectors in which you might find employment, and some of the requirements that you may face as a foreign national seeking employment in the region.A wide range of occupations are typically advertised in Antigua and Barbuda, from engineering to teaching, security, management, bartending and environmental work; potentially you have plenty of choice but if you are a foreign national, you may encounter some restrictions. Note also that salaries tend to be lower in relation to the cost of living than in the USA or some European nations.
Employers hiring in Antigua must prioritise locals, so hirers must prove that any job has first been made available to a local and that there has been good reason for giving it to someone who is from overseas. As a foreign worker, this is likely to be your first stumbling block. Available jobs tend to be high-end: for example, in teaching, medicine or management, requiring specific qualifications, rather than lower level work. However, the situation is somewhat different for visitors from the UK: you will not need a visa, for instance, although you will still need a work permit.
Your employer must apply for a work permit for you: it is illegal to work without one. It will be viable for one year and will then need to be renewed. You will need to provide some documentation:
• temporary residence permit
• clean police record (A DBS check valid within a 3 month period if you are from the UK)
• copy of your return airline ticket
• copy of any relevant qualifications
• copies of adverts for the position placed in local media
• your receipt for payment for your work permit
• bank statements
• a letter from your employer accepting responsibility for you while you are resident in the country
If you have already found employment, you will need to be sponsored by your employer in order to be granted a work permit.
Antigua is a big financial centre, home to a number of major banks. You will have an advantage as an English-language speaker in general business, but the prevalence of English across the islands means that obtaining work as a TEFL teacher will be limited. The state sector does hire teachers from overseas on occasion, however. The country has one international school.
The Antiguan government hires personnel but most jobs go to locals, as above. However, if you have specialist skills, you may find yourself more in demand. The British High Commission occasionally advertises posts.
Otherwise, specialist skills such as engineering or accounting may also stand you in good stead if you are applying for work in the region. The Antiguan government recognizes that there is a skills shortage in some sectors and thus encourages people who wish to take up employment in those areas (such as marine biology, for example) or who wish to set up businesses on the islands: there are specific visa regulations if you wish to establish your own business in Antigua, but recently the government has tried to relax the visa regulations somewhat to fill any skill gaps.
Short term work permits are also available, as is the Citizenship by Investment programme which encourages wealthy individuals to reside on the islands.
Remember that there are also opportunities for volunteering in Antigua.
The Antiguan/Barbudan working week is 48 hours over 6 days, a maximum of 8 hours per day. The minimum wage is EC$8.20 per hour. Overtime is substantial, consisting of 150% over the minimum wage and you may also be entitled to a performance-related bonus.
You will be eligible for 14 days’ sick pay per annum but must supply a doctor’s certificate (check that your employer is up to date with the legislation on sick leave/pay). You will also be entitled to 12 days’ annual leave in addition to official public holidays.
Women are also entitled to up to 6 weeks’ paid maternity leave, depending on how long they have worked for their employer.
Remember to check with your employer if you are entitled to any severance pay, and its terms, for example in the event of being made redundant.
The Antiguan bona fide visitor status does not automatically grant spouses a right of residence/abode in the country, so your spouse will need to apply separately if they wish to work. You can check with the Office of the Chief Immigration Officer for more information.
It is possible to make speculative applications to companies: your main route is via one of the islands’ job boards.
The Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (AHTA) run occasional job fairs with a focus on the hospitality sector (hotels, excursion companies and restaurants).
For some job fairs, potential applicants are asked to bring a copy of their CV and photographs. Otherwise, there are job boards online.
A standard CV format (a one page resume and a covering letter) should be acceptable, but check with individual companies to see if they have specific requirements.
It is unlawful under Antiguan law for an employer to discriminate against an individual because of gender, so your interview should reflect this.
You also have the right to join a trade union if you are employed in Antigua. Your employer is obliged to give you full details of working terms and conditions if you are hired (for example, if you have to work on public holidays).
You will need qualifications in your home country (for example, in midwifery), but if you are coming to Antigua from the UK you should find that your qualifications are analogous. You may need to get any certificates or diplomas apostilled.
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