±JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
±Compare Expat Providers
±Expat Focus Partners
±Latest Financial Articles
· Moving Abroad, Before And After Brexit
· Expat Focus Financial Update February 2018
· How To Navigate Brexit When Sending Money Abroad
· Expat Focus Financial Update January 2018
· Top Tips for Buying a Property Overseas in 2018
· Expat Focus Financial Update December 2017
· World Events And Currency: Why Politics Affect An Exchange Rate
· Expat Focus Financial Update November 2017
· What Might Brexit Mean For Expat Finances?
Finding EmploymentBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Panama - Finding Employment
The unemployment rate during 2010 was approximately 6.7%, which was low when compared to other countries in the region. One of the reasons for this is that Panama remained largely unaffected by the economic downturn in 2008, which hit larger economies such as the US and the UK. However, this figure was even lower the year before, at just 5.8%. The highest level of unemployment in urban areas tends to be among the group between the age of 18 and 25 where it is as high as 50%. Plans for expanding the Panama Canal created many new job posts and lowered the unemployment rate further more.
Expats who are not residents can still find work in fields such as teaching English as a foreign language. It is usually the case that these jobs offer temporary contracts and the organizations that expats work for can help them apply for the relevant work permit. The application for a work permit in this instance must include a copy of the letter from the company that offers a job. Companies also have to prove that no legal residents of Panama are available or interested in the job post.
Those who are working without the relevant residency visa or work permit should be aware that it can lead to deportation. The companies that employ these kinds of workers can also find themselves in huge trouble as they bypass the social security system by operating this way.
Those who have a good knowledge of Spanish can find work much more easily, especially in tourism. However, most expats get jobs in foreign companies that have offices in Panama, as the international corporations always have a need for bilingual staff and vacancies for translators regularly appear.
Finding a job
There are numerous popular job websites in Panama, such as 3WJobs. This site offers a free service to job seekers and applications can be made online to the companies that are advertising here. The website keeps the details of job seekers confidential and the users can upload their CV so that it can be accessed by companies that are recruiting. The site has a useful FAQ section which gives additional advice on finding work and applying for jobs in Panama.
There are also various newspapers that have job advertisements, both in English and Spanish. Panama’s laid back approach to life also means that simply making enquiries with a company, even if they are not offering any vacancies, can find job seekers some work. It is also worth sending a CV to companies to keep on file even if they are not advertising at the moment.
Expats need to ensure that they have an up to date CV or resume before applying for a position. Those who send an application with a covering letter that has not been tailored to the vacancy or type of work that they are looking for, can expect to be ignored. It is definitely worth taking time on the letter in order to impress a prospective Panamanian employer.
The working week in Panama is Monday to Friday for the most workers. The working day generally begins at 8 am with a lunch break at noon and restarts at 2pm, finishing at 5 or 6 pm. Those who work in the retail sector should expect to work on Saturdays as well, usually on a rota and retail hours which are generally from 9 am to 6 pm. Workers are permitted to work a maximum of 8 hours each day and a maximum of 48 hours each week.
There are 11 bank holidays during the year. These days include the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, Easter, Labor Day, Independence Days and Panama City day. Workers are not necessarily given any more leave than this although many employers do offer more; this largely depends on the company. The Labour Code has been established to set out the rights of foreign nationals working in the country and this also applies to Panamanian nationals who are working abroad.
All workers are entitled to a formal written contract of employment when they begin to work. If a written contract is not supplied then any information that is verbally given to the employee is taken as part of the formal contract.
Trade unions are common in Panama but tend to be used more in blue collar work. The trade unions can work with the employee and employer to settle disputes and negotiate salaries. It is not compulsory to join a union, but it is not uncommon in Panama to do so. Panama has a minimum wage structure which is regularly reviewed. There is no tier system where workers of a different age earn different amounts. The minimum wage system applies to all workers in the country. Those who are ill or injured can be entitled to 18 days’ paid leave. The employer is not able to recover the cost of this from the Panamanian government.
There is a compulsory maternity leave system which begins 6 weeks before the expected due date. A minimum of 14 weeks should be taken in this case. If the birth is later than the due date the mother can take paid leave for 8 weeks after the birth as well. An employee who is on maternity leave cannot have the contract altered or be penalized in any way. During the first year after maternity leave a worker cannot be sacked without a very good cause. There are currently no arrangements for paternity leave or rights for those who are adopting or fostering children.
Read more about this country
Expat Health Insurance Partners
Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.
AXA - Global Healthcare
As the global healthcare specialists for AXA, the world’s number one insurance brand, we can help you get fast access to expert medical care, whenever and wherever you need it. All our plans include evacuation and repatriation, a second medical opinion service and extra support from a dedicated case manager if you’re diagnosed with cancer. You’ll also have 24/7 support from our caring multilingual team - we’ll always remember you’re a person, not a case number.
At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.
Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.