Kazakhstan to tighten hiring practice for foreign workers, counter wage imbalance 

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan will tighten the laws regulating the process of hiring foreign workers, after inspections led by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection identified labour and migration legislation violations at 63 large enterprises, including disproportionate salaries between the foreign and local workforces, reported tengrinews.kz Nov. 3.

Photo credit: tengrinews.kz.

The ministry reported on the legislation violations, enterprise inspection results and possible solutions during a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Berdibek Saparbayev and heads of the Aktobe Region’s large enterprises. The session considered compensation, repaying wage liabilities, labour conflicts, businesses’ social responsibility and attracting foreign labour.

“We plan to tighten the rules for recruiting foreign labour. We will reduce the quota by no less than two times and tighten the rules for issuing permits for the fourth category (working specialties),” said Minister of Labour and Social Protection Birzhan Nurymbetov.

The plan involves introducing the employer’s responsibility and obligation to create equal working and living conditions for employees. The ministry will modify industry inspection criteria, annually checking enterprises that attract more than 30 foreign workers.

Nurymbetov noted 21,000 foreign specialists have permission to work at 2,400 Kazakh enterprises.  

“With the Prosecutor General’s Office, we inspected 63 large enterprises. The inspection revealed 794 facts of labour legislation violations, including 700 facts of wage imbalance at 23 enterprises, meaning the salary of foreign specialists for one position was higher than that of Kazakh employees. With regard to this, we revoked the permissions of 657 foreign workers,” he said.

He added the government bodies issued 56 orders regarding violations that revealed and imposed 282 fines totalling 87 million tenge (US$224,000).

The second inspection stage checked 34 additional enterprises and identified 135 labour violations. Nurymbetov specifically addressed Arabtec Consolidated Contractors Limited Project Manager John Campbell regarding violations at the Abu Dhabi Plaza construction site.

“For example, you provide three meals a day for foreigners living in a hostel, the cost of which is up to 3,000 tenge (US$8). The local staff, they dine separately, with compensation payments of 800 tenge (US$2). In addition, your company attracted foreign workers that do not correspond to the position for which you received permission,” he said.

The ministry also plans to return to the compulsory practice of replacing foreign workers with domestic specialists. 

“You will get permission to attract a foreign specialist for one-three years, but after the term expiration the employee needs to be replaced by a Kazakh specialist. We have been attracting foreign labour for 25 years. I think that time was enough to train our own specialists,” added Nurymbetov. 

Saparbayev supported the minister’s proposals.

“If we invite a foreign worker, then after a certain time we must replace him with a domestic worker. We have enough universities and enterprises. For a quarter of a century we have been attracting foreign workers, but we are not preparing our own. Perhaps next year we will exclude the issuance of permits for the fourth category,” he said.

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