Petroleum Commission has implemented new employment notification guidelines for the oil and gas sector that favor local job applicants over foreign applicants. The guidelines were set in motion in April 2018. This new notification directive is expected to increase the transparency levels in all parts of the recruitment process for companies operating in the country’s oil and gas sector.
According to the Petroleum Commission, over 12,000 Ghanaians have been engaged in about 332 companies in the upstream petroleum sector since the country started oil production in commercial quantities. As a result of this new notification directive, this figure is expected to be greatly increased with the implementation of the new guidelines which is targeting special areas of employment for indigenous individuals and businesses.
This new employer notification requirement came about as result of an inspection audit carried out by the Petroleum Commission all through the month of June.
Petroleum Commission Inspection Audit
Earlier on in the year, Ghana’s Petroleum Commission’s Inspection Team announced that it would be carrying out audits on companies operating the oil and gas sector in the Western region of Ghana. The audits were carried out on July 20, 2018.
The key areas the inspectors and auditors examined were:
- Contracts and procurement activities;
- Human resource files, including immigration documentation such as work permits, localization plans etc.
- Reporting to authorities regarding training, job creation, etc., known as local content undertaking.
- Skills and technology transfer plans.
- Participation of the employer’s local partner in the execution of all contracts.
- Research and development-related documents.
- Financial/banking documents.
- Insurance and reinsurance service documents.
- Report on the involvement of Ghanaians in company operations.
- Health, safety and environmental compliance documents.
- Operational performance-related documents.
This inspection came as a change in how inspections were previously carried out in the oil and gas sector. Initially, the inspections were carried out on a case-by-case basis without any forewarning or specified region undergoing inspection.
New Employer Notification Requirements
Following these audits, the Ghana Immigration Service West Region published a communication requiring employers in the Western Region to report foreign nationals working under a business visa for activities including training, short consultancy services or repair and maintenance services. With these new rules, employers must notify the government of any new business visa holders in the oil and gas sectors of the country.
All employers are required to mail their notifications to the Western Regional Command. These notifications are required to be in the prescribed template form and should include the following information:
- Serial number.
- Name of the institution.
- Name of foreign national.
- Passport number.
- Date of arrival.
- Purpose of visit.
- Date of proposed departure.
Purpose of the New Notification Directive
This new directive in the oil and gas sector was introduced in order to ensure that local workers are considered for these job opportunities over and above foreign nationals, and also to promote the transfer of skills to local workers. In order to ensure that this objective was met, the Ghana Petroleum Commission highlighted the following critical aspects of the notification directive for application and compliance:
- The Commission has the sole power to decide which applicants to invite for an interview and when they would conduct said interview.
- An employer seeking new employees must present all the résumés and interview transcripts of all Ghanaians who first responded to the job advertisement upon the Commission’s request.
- All cover letters of foreign employee applicants presented by the employer should include a detailed justification for why they are seeking to employ a foreign national.
- Only one-year police clearance certificates will be accepted for foreign employees.
- Only a two year or less medical certificates will be accepted for foreign employees.
- Previously, work permit applications were made to directly to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS). Now, work permit applications must be submitted only to the Commission for onward transmission to Ghana Immigration Service (GIS).
- Likewise, instead of directly picking approved work permits from Ghana Immigration Service as was previously done, employers must collect the approved work permits from the Commission.
- The Commission must be notified of all vacancies through its dedicated email address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- For both new and renewal applications, the names of Ghanaians understudying the foreign worker and the resume of the Ghanaian successor(s) must be provided.
- Localization forms must be completed and attached to each work permit application.
- Initial applications must be submitted to the Commission two months prior to the foreign worker’s arrival.
- Renewal applications must be submitted to the Commission two months prior to the expiration of the applicant’s work permit.
- Under no circumstance should an applicant engage in any activity in the oil and gas sector without a work permit.
- Applications for work permits must be adherer to the Annual Local Content Plan (a document detailing, among others things, a plan for the employment and training of locals) to be submitted to the Commission.
Implications to Both Employers and Foreign Nationals
Impact on employers
- If employers fail to comply with this notification directive from the Ghana Immigration Service West region, they may incur major fines. Therefore, employers are highly urged to maintain detailed records of any foreign nationals entering Ghana to work in their companies. This is done in anticipation of any future audits that may come about.
- Employers in this region must ensure that their operational, human resources and immigration records are readily available and accurate.
Impact on foreign nationals
- Seeing as the Commission makes the final decision on which applicants get an interview invitation, as well as when the interview will take place, foreign applicants can only travel to Ghana at the discretion of the Commission.
- Any foreign nationals found to have entered Ghana for business purposes without an issued business visa and work permit will be arrested and deported.