Lebanon, a small country on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is spectacular in its beauty. Thanks to the remarkable contrasts between its ancient history and modern culture, it's a fascinating place. Lebanon is a hidden jewel in the Middle East, with a rich history, varied scenery, wonderful cuisine, and friendly people. There is something for everyone in Lebanon, from tourists and businesses alike, whether you're looking for adventure, culture or a great talent pool to hire from.
The Lebanese people are kind yet hardworking people and are an asset to any business. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before making any staff hires in Lebanon. Successfully complying with Lebanon's employment compliance rules can be facilitated by learning how to hire staff from the country. Acquiring an awareness of the local culture is also essential for making a strong impression on prospective employees and retaining current staff.
In this article, we’ll discuss all you need to know about the beautiful country of Lebanon, what the labour laws are and how you can hire in Lebanon compliantly.
What you need to know about Lebanon
Lebanon is a small Middle Eastern country bordered by Syria to the north and east, Israel to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. The capital city of Beirut, home to roughly a sixth of Lebanon's inhabitants, is a microcosm of the country as a whole: a kaleidoscope of cultures, religions, and economic sectors.
Today, Beirut boasts a plethora of stunning seafront eateries and a vibrant cultural scene. At the same time, some areas of Beirut and the rest of the country are quite conservative and stand in stark contrast to this innovative facet of Lebanese society.
Although Lebanon’s national language is Arabic, a variety of languages, including French, English, and sometimes even Armenian, and Greek, can be heard being spoken on the streets of Beirut. The country's multiculturalism is reflected in its cuisine, music, art and architecture.
The government of Lebanon
Lebanon's government is a parliamentary democracy, with a president serving as both head of state and prime minister. A total of 128 people can be elected to fill the parliament's open seats. There are eight governorates in Lebanon, each of which is subdivided into districts and towns.
In an interesting show of Lebanon’s multiculturalism, the Lebanese presidency is designated for a Maronite Christian, the prime ministership for a Sunni Muslim, and the speakership of parliament for a Shia Muslim — all part of the government's complicated system of power-sharing across religious factions.
The Lebanese economy and currency
Lebanon has always served as a major hub for Middle Eastern business. Liberal economic policies favour private entrepreneurship and unrestricted international trade in this country. There is a healthy balance between high-tech service industries like banking and tourism and more traditional ones like agriculture and manufacturing in Lebanon's economy.
The country places a premium on innovation and entrepreneurship, and its workforce reflects this with a high level of education. Especially in the areas of e-commerce, finance, and software development, Lebanese entrepreneurs have found great success in launching new businesses and establishing innovative technologies. The country also has a robust artistic sector, with flourishing theatre and cinema.
There are many positive aspects of Lebanon's society, but the country's economy is struggling due to factors such as huge public debt, a weak currency (the Lebanese Pound, LBP), and a challenging political climate. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic — which have been devastating to the national economy — have only exacerbated the situation. Despite this, many Lebanese firms and entrepreneurs are active and successful, and Lebanon is still a regional economic powerhouse.
Employing in Lebanon
As we’ve mentioned, Lebanon's economy is in the midst of a serious financial and economic crisis. As a result of the country's rising inflation, the value of the local currency plummeted by more than 90% compared to the US dollar in 2019. This has led to a precipitous decline in the purchasing power of Lebanese salaries, which are now among the lowest in the world.
Lebanon's hardworking and diligent workforce is scrambling to find jobs with international companies as the country's economy continues to struggle. However, with French and English so widely spoken, Lebanon is a desirable destination for multinational companies needing new hires.
In this section, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of hiring in Lebanon — from working hours, monthly wages and mandatory benefits.
Before we get started, it should be noted that a number of Lebanon-based businesses additionally supply their employees with supplementary benefits like private medical and life insurance, food stipends, and tuition reimbursement. These payments are treated as business costs rather than part of the employer's National Social Security Fund (NSSF) contribution. Thus, they are not subject to taxation.
With that said, when employing individuals from Lebanon, companies should be aware of the following:
While written contracts are not required by Lebanese labour law, they are the norm when it comes to employment. All written agreements must be drafted in Arabic but can also be translated into another language for workers whose primary language is not Arabic. A contract's terms should follow the relevant sections of the Common Law.
2. Probation period
Typically, a new employee is considered on probation for the first three months on the job. An employer who doesn’t wish to continue a worker’s employment is legally required to provide a minimum of one month’s notice.
3. Minimum wage
According to the Ministry of Labor, the Lebanese minimum salary is LBP 675,000 per month — which is approximately US$45 as of February 2023. However, this wage is mostly symbolic, and actual wages are typically negotiated between companies and employees.
The Labor Law establishes the framework for how earnings and salaries must be allocated to workers in Lebanon. Businesses must pay their workers on a regular basis, typically once a month, and give a complete payslip outlining the employee's gross pay, deductions, and net compensation.
Salary payments must also have mandatory deductions taken out for things like income tax, social security, and other government levies. A violation of payroll policies may result in monetary sanctions.
5. Income tax
Employees in Lebanon are subject to a progressive income tax (PIT) of between 2% and 25% of their gross salary, raised from between 2% and 20% according to Article 23 of Budget Law 2019, which revised Article 58 of the Income Tax Code.
The PIT brackets are as such:
Up to LBP 5,000,000 — 0%
From LBP 5,000,001 to LBP 10,000,000 — 2%
From LBP 10,000,001 to LBP 20,000,000 — 7%
From LBP 20,000,001 to 40,000,000 LBP — 11%
From LBP 40,000,001 to 80,000,000 LBP — 15%
From LBP 80,000,001 to 160,000,000 LBP — 20%
Above LBP 160,000,000 — 25%
6. Social security
In Lebanon, social security is paid by both the employer and the employee. 3% of an employee’s salary is withheld for social security, up to a maximum of LBP 2,500,000.
However, the overall amount of an employer's social contributions is 22.5% of an employee's gross pay. This is split into:
Sickness and maternity: 8%
Family allowances: 6%
End of service allowances: 8.5%
In general, the Social Security requirements apply to all employed and self-employed Lebanese citizens, regardless of the type of their work, so long as it takes place within the borders of Lebanon.
Social security benefits are available to foreign nationals working in Lebanon (holders of work permits) so long as their home countries provide equivalent coverage to that granted to Lebanese citizens. Some such countries include France, Italy, the UK, Syria and Belgium
7. Working hours
Workers in Lebanon are permitted to put in a maximum of 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week, according to the country's Labor Laws. Overtime must be compensated at one and a half times the regular hourly rate, and the maximum number of hours worked in a day might be increased to 12.
In addition, workers have the right to at least 36 hours of rest each week.
When an employee works more than their scheduled hours, that extra time counts as overtime and must be compensated at a rate of 150% of the regular earnings.
9. Annual leave
In Lebanon, workers don't get their first year's worth of vacation pay until they've been with the company for two years. Once an employee has been with the company for a year, they are entitled to 15 days of paid vacation.
However, company loyalty is highly regarded within Lebanese Labor Laws. As such, an employee’s total amount of annual leave will increase the longer they stay with the company.
After 5 years of service: 17 days of annual leave
After 10 years of service: 19 days of annual leave
More than 15 years of service: 21 days of annual leave
In Lebanon, expecting mothers can take 10 weeks of paid leave before or after giving birth — with benefits equivalent to their regular salary.
There are no paternity leave provisions in law as of writing. The Lebanese government is currently in the midst of introducing a 3-day paternal leave. The majority of companies, however, have policies that allow fathers to take off work for a single day after the birth of a child, according to a 2022 report by L’Orient Today.
In Lebanon, sick leave benefits are provided in a manner similar to those of paid vacation. The length of the employee’s service is taken into consideration.
Up to 2 years — 15 days on full pay + 15 days with half pay
Up to 4 years — 1 month on full pay + 1 month with half pay
Up to 6 years — One and a half months on full pay + One and a half months with half pay
Up to 10 years — 2 months with full pay + 2 months on half pay
Above 10 years — Two and a half months on full pay + two and a half months with half pay
After the loss of a close relative, workers in Lebanon are given two days of paid mourning leave.
10. Public holidays
Thanks to the multicultural landscape of Lebanon, the country celebrates many holidays across cultures — from Eid al-Fitr to Orthodox Christmas. Here is the complete list of public holidays in Lebanon and their dates:
New Year’s Day: 1 Jan
Armenian Orthodox Christmas Day: 6 Jan
St Maroun’s Day: 9 Feb
Rafik Hariri Memorial Day: 14 Feb
Feast of the Annunciation: 25 Mar
Good Friday (Western churches) — changes yearly
Easter Sunday (Western churches) — changes yearly
Orthodox Good Friday — 7 days after Good Friday
Orthodox Easter Sunday — 7 days after Easter Sunday
Eid al-Fitr — changes yearly, celebrated after the month of Ramadan
Labour Day — 1 May
Martyrs’ Day — 7 May
Resistance and Liberation Day — 14 May
Eid al-Adha — changes yearly, celebrated at the end of the Hajj period
Islamic New Year — changes yearly according to the Islamic Lunar Calendar
Ashura — changes yearly according to the Islamic Lunar Calendar
Assumption Day — 15 Aug
Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday — changes yearly according to the Islamic Lunar Calendar
Independence Day — 22 Nov
Christmas Day — 25 Dec
11. Termination of employment
In the event of an unfair or harsh termination, employees in Lebanon are eligible to receive severance pay equal to two to twelve months of salary. The length of time the employee must give before employment is terminated is also tied to how long they've been with the company:
The first 3 years of service — 1 month
Between 3-6 years of service — 2 months
Between 6-12 years of service — 3 months
Over 12 years of service — 4 months
Employees who resign are subject to the same notification requirements.
It should be noted that businesses have the right to terminate employees at will and without warning in cases of force majeure (unfavourable events beyond the control of the employer) or serious misconduct (such as theft, fraud, indiscipline, or a felony conviction).
How to hire in Lebanon
In order to hire employees in Lebanon, businesses need to either establish a legal presence there or partner with a local employment agency. Managing payroll, benefits, taxes and new hire onboarding in a foreign country like Lebanon can be difficult if the appropriate procedures are not established from the start, especially in the absence of localised experience.
Hiring foreigners in Lebanon
Foreign nationals living in Lebanon are legally allowed to work in the country so long as they obtain approval from the Ministry of Labor and are granted a Work Permit.
In conclusion, we have covered a wide range of topics, including the many advantages Lebanon has to offer, not only as a vacation spot but also as a viable business hub. Although Lebanon has been through a lot in recent years, it is still a country rich in history and culture with a strong and creative population. Businesses looking for hardworking and trustworthy employees can look no further than Lebanon.
We understand this may seem daunting, but hiring in Lebanon isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Especially when you partner with a recruitment agency that specialises in hiring from the Middle East. Learning the ins and outs of hiring within the Middle East is a lengthy endeavour, and working with local experts ensures that you can concentrate on your business while expanding to the region.