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EmploymentBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Egypt - Employment
Obtain Your Residency And Work Permit
It is part of the Egyptian culture to avoid tax and bureaucracy, so it is not unusual for some expats to live in Egypt under tourist visas whilst being paid cash in hand.
However, political uncertainties and an ongoing, serious threat of terrorism means you could be asked to produce your ID at any time. If the authorities suspect you are working illegally in Egypt, you will be deported with little chance of getting your affairs in order. Even a few hours in an Egyptian detention facility, trying to figure out how the legal system works, will be a traumatic experience for most expats.
Therefore, make sure you and your employer follow the law by obtaining the required permits. The only people exempt from work permits are those from Sudan, Palestine and Greece, as well as Italians who have lived in Egypt for at least five years.
The process will take two or three months to be finalised, and you will need to reapply for a new work permit every six months to a year as required. No permanent permission to live or work in Egypt is granted unless you obtain citizenship.
Your employer must sponsor your application for a work permit. They must confirm that with your employment, no more than 10 percent of their staff and no more than 20 percent of their payroll bill will relate to international employees. There is more flexibility for companies based in the free zones, but even there, migrants may not exceed 25 percent of all employees.
If you are going to work as a technical expert, by law you must have two Egyptian people employed as assistants. Meanwhile, some industries may be closed to foreign employees, at the government’s discretion. At present, migrants may not work as tourist guides, belly dancers or in export and customs work.
Employees Have Legal Rights In Egypt
If you are an employee in Egypt, you are entitled to a minimum wage. Your standard working hours must not exceed eight hours a day or 48 hours a week, not including break times.
However, you can work overtime if you are paid for it and it is not regular. You should be paid a premium for daytime overtime work, and a higher premium for overtime at night. In addition, if you work on your day off, you must be paid an additional day’s wage.
Once you have worked for your employer for a year, you have a legal right to 21 days annual paid leave. If you don’t make it to the full year, but were employed for more than six months, you are due the relevant pro-rata of the 21 days.
After ten years of continuous employment, whether with one or several employers, or upon reaching the age of 50, your entitlement to annual leave increases to 30 days.
You are also entitled to paid sick leave as an employee, although you’ll need to provide a medical report. You will receive a percentage of your salary, up to a limit of 180 days.
Women who have built up the required social insurance contributions are entitled to maternity leave. The length and entitlement to payment depends on the size of the employer’s business and the maternity leave absences the woman takes. All women may also take nursing breaks of one hour or two half hours for up to 24 months after their child is born. Flexible working arrangements after returning to the workplace can be agreed between the employer and employee, but are not a right protected by law. Legal provision for paternity leave does not exist in Egypt.
Finding A Job In Egypt Is Difficult
Great poverty and inequality in society has long been the experience for many in Egypt. The horrific massacre at Luxor in 1997, followed by the 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks and the three 2006 Dahab bombings drove away a significant part of the tourist market and led to a serious slump in the national economy. The Arab Spring uprising led to a number of changes in government and brought in a new era of uncertainty, while the threat of further Islamist terrorism action continues.
All of these events have had a devastating effect on the livelihood of ordinary people in Egypt. It is estimated that three quarters of the population are under the age of 25, meaning that many families do not have financial safety nets. The state can only provide limited support for those who do not work. However, there are not enough jobs in the country, even for young graduates. In 2017, 11.8 percent of the adult population were unemployed. Many working people are barely able to make ends meet.
However, there are some areas of the Egyptian business world that need more expats. Primarily, the banking sector in Cairo is functioning well and is a key player in the financial services sector of the Arab world. As a result, the specialist skills and experience of bankers and fund managers are highly sought after. Whilst a decent level of Arabic is helpful, most employers in the banking industry would place a desirable employee into a role working with English-speaking clients and markets.
The medical industry also has a continuous need for a wide range of staff, especially those with good qualifications and specialist experience. However, an important part of medical care is talking to patients, so unless a facility is operated for the benefit of medical tourists, you will need to speak Arabic to a reasonable level.
Teaching English In Egypt
The public education system in Egypt is under-resourced and does not perform well by international standards. As a result, private and international schools thrive.
International schools in particular like to employ teachers – and sometimes teaching assistants – from Western countries. Those schools delivering a British curriculum require native English speakers who have experience of the lesson plans, standards and practices of the British classroom. The same applies to the American international schools.
You will be a strong candidate for these positions if you have a degree, relevant work qualifications and at least a year of experience of working in school in your home country. There are various routes into this work, including through specialist recruitment firms or by sending a well-written letter with a CV directly to the international schools.
You should begin your applications by March to be ready for a September start when the new school year begins, although sometimes opportunities will arise at other times of the year.
Salaries in Egypt are not as high as those enjoyed in Western countries, and you are unlikely to accumulate large savings in the country. However, the parents paying the high costs of international school fees do so because these schools pay better salaries to attract very good teachers. Therefore, your salary should be enough to maintain a decent standard of living while you are in Egypt.
Heading out to work as a teacher in Egypt can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are going alone and don’t have friends or family already settled there. Once appointed, schools are often helpful in recommending contacts to source accommodation. Other expat school staff usually become the focus of your social life, at least in the early days, if not for the longer term. This can be hard if you like a separation between work and home life, but for many, this makes the settling in period easier and means you can get a solid foundation to your new life before branching out to add new friends.
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