Working offshore – your professional obligations

  • By Ian Wollff

Members of the AusIMM often travel to foreign countries to undertake work assignments. Each country has its own set of laws and regulations that foreign workers must follow.

This article is Indonesia-centric, but in principal applies to all AusIMM members working overseas, even for AusIMM members traveling to Australia to work. Each country’s definitions and regulations often specify what constitutes work or ‘doing business’, and may include simple office meetings, giving a presentation at a conference, or making a marketing pitch in that country. This article is prepared to remind AusIMM members that full adherence with a country’s foreign worker laws is an issue of ethical compliance.

The AusIMM Code of Ethics

‘The purpose of the Code of Ethics is to commit members to uphold and enhance both their personal integrity and the integrity of the profession, and to ensure the highest standing of The AusIMM and of its members in the community is sustained’. The full code of ethics can be found at https://ausimm.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ausimm_code_of_ethics.pdf

Point 9 states: ‘Members of The AusIMM shall comply with all laws and government regulations relating to the minerals sector and shall keep up to date with relevant laws in jurisdictions in which they conduct business, and members dealing with public companies shall comply with the rules, regulations and practices governing such companies as are published by the relevant stock exchange from time to time.’

Work and business regulations for foreigners in Indonesia.

In Indonesia, regulations for foreigners undertaking works, site visits or even business meetings are constantly changing. It is up to the AusIMM member to ensure they enter Indonesia with the appropriate visa. In many cases the simple ‘visa-on-arrival’ may not be appropriate. There are various Immigration and Work Permit Regulations, including the new work permit regulation dated 11 July 2018 for foreign workers. The Indonesian company that is going to sponsor the foreign worker may also need to register the worker under the Mines Department consultancy system (IUJP).

Business visas may be required for attending meetings, giving speeches, trainings etc. All business visas must be sponsored by a legal entity registered in Indonesia. The business visa forbids any employment – you can not get paid for undertakings in Indonesia.

There are a number of websites that may introduce the work and business permits rules for foreigners. Enquiries should be undertaken at the Indonesian Embassy well in advance of the intended travel dates. Work or Business visas can cost around $2000. Visa service companies may assist, but quality of service and fees vary.

Sometimes the Indonesian rules can be interpreted differently by individual department of Immigration or Manpower staff officers. Sometimes the potential client/company in Indonesia may not give the best recommendation. The AusIMM member coming to Indonesia for work or business may need to apply their own best professional standards in obtaining the right visa.

Consequences of not having the correct visa

The Indonesian Manpower Department conduct sweeps from time to time to catch foreign workers without the correct permits. This can result in the foreign worker being placed under house arrest and immediately deported – along with a ban from re-entering Indonesia for a year or so, plus fines. The company where the foreign worker was caught can be fined up to $10,000 and may even have their mining permit cancelled. The black ban could extend to offshore company of the foreign worker.

The Indonesian immigration office has become more computerised, and persons of note can more readily be identified on arrival in Indonesia. The immigration office can take notice of the foreign expert named in a JORC report as made public on the stock exchange, etc. If the experts are thought to have undertaken a site visit in Indonesia as part of such report, then they can be added to the immigration ‘black list’. Undertaking prospect site visits exposes the foreign worker to a smaller community, and often observers at a hotel or small airport may take an interest in a foreign worker. Immigration officers are incentivised to catch foreigners with incorrect visas.

An AusIMM member breaching a countries work/business visa rules is in clear breach of the AusIMM Code of Ethics, and it is incumbent upon each individual to ensure they have the correct visa for their purposes.

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author. This article provides general information, does not constitute advice and should not be relied on as such. Professional advice should be sought prior to any action being taken in reliance on any of the information.

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