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Bermuda Employment conditions for newcomers

Employers will welcome you, but there are strict Government restrictions for non-citizens on this 21 square mile island

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online

To refer to this webfile, please use "bermuda-online.org/newcomers" as your Subject.

Bermuda Immigration application form

Bermuda Immigration Application Form for all non-Bermudian applicants for residence, retirees, work permits, etc.

line drawing

Introduction

Are you looking for a change of locale, working in Bermuda for 3-6 years only, not with any expectation of making it your permanent home (see "No entitlement to Permanent Residency below"), on a Work Permit, not to emigrate? If so, you could well have a great time here, so long as you are fully aware in advance of Bermuda's unique set of restrictions applicable to all non-Bermudian newcomers. If you are looking for a "permanent" relocation the only way you may be able to qualify is you marry a Bermudian, live with your spouse for at least 10 years and more. If not a Bermudian and not in a position to marry one of the opposite sex, accept beforehand that you may never be able to advance with unrestricted upward mobility based on merit alone, and will never be able to own your own property at the "Bermudian-only" prices, or vote. Nor will any children born to you and your spouse - unless one is Bermudian - ever be Bermudian himself or herself or be eligible for any local scholarship or award. Bermuda can best be described for relocation purposes as a good place for temporary (perhaps a few years), not permanent, career and financial prospects, for those academically and/or professionally qualified who seek well-remunerated employment. With that will come a high quality of life with the ability to beat the incredibly high cost of living, a good climate and geography, nice natural environment and decent local infrastructure. But if you are not in this elite category of high income earners, you should think twice about coming to Bermuda.

This is not to put you off from coming here to work, but purely to let you know what to expect. Know ahead of time that when some employers or recruiting agencies say the "job duration is a 2-year minimum, open-ended" they should tell you that any offer of employment and its duration are always subject to Bermuda Immigration work permit approval when the employee is not Bermudian. 

Bermuda is a 21 square mile (56 kilometers) in total land area cluster of mostly-interconnected small islands in the north west Atlantic Ocean.  It has about 65,000 residents and about 500,000 visitors mostly from cruise ships. It is located about 600 miles due east of the nearest mainland, the USA's North Carolina. It is not in the Caribbean but 900 miles north of it. There are no regular airline or shipping services between the Caribbean and Bermuda, only with the USA, Canada and Britain. It is Britain's oldest British Overseas Territory, self-governing, with its own laws including those on citizenship, commerce, customs duties, employment, finance, health, insurance, investments, hospitalization, immigration, taxation, trade, welfare, etc. It is not part of the European Community, unlike Britain. Despite its small size it is an important offshore business centre, particularly for insurance and reinsurance companies. The World Bank - see http://data.worldbank.org/country/bermuda - rates it as one of the top jurisdictions in Gross National Income per capita. The cost of living is very high.

No entitlement to Permanent Residency

All guest workers and work permit holders in Bermuda irrespective of rank or seniority are required to sign a declaration acknowledging that they are not entitled to permanent residency on the Island. Those already in Bermuda were required to sign the declaration by April 30, 2013. The declaration policy was introduced to allay fears of a potential surge in permanent residency applications from guest workers who can, if their work permits to do so are renewed, now remain employed in Bermuda indefinitely. But not if they are not in work-permit approved employment or if their work permit is revoked.

Bermuda Jobs presently available include

See http://www.theroyalgazette.com/section/jobs.

Do you own your own home in your home or adopted country? If so, and are being offered a position locally, ask specifically whether the rented accommodation here is going to be bigger and better than in what you have now (specify it and what you seek). And what its price is likely to be to you. And compare it. If you not currently own your own home, you may be more flexible. But if you do, you will presumably expect the same standards and at no higher than the current cost to you.  Know in advance that if you do already own your own 2-4 bedroom home, with a garage, in USA or Canada or UK or Europe, it will not be realistic for you to be offered a 1 bedroom rented apartment in Bermuda. Instead, to continue your upward mobility and in recognition of your academic and professional qualifications, ask for a house of similar standard to the one you have now. See Homes

Bermuda has a  high-cost economy. The World Bank rates it as # 3 in the world in GNI - Gross National Income. Most of its money comes from being an International Business center or offshore jurisdiction - some would say tax haven for corporate entities (not for their employees). It is also a long-established tourism resort.  It has no natural resources of its own in its 21 square miles, no oil, no gas, no heavy industry. It is one of the most isolated yet highly populated places anywhere in the world and one of the most regulated, with controls on what non-nationals cannot do that no other jurisdiction in the world imposes. Lack of citizenship to newcomers except after 10 years of continuous and living-together marriage to a Bermudian, lack of citizenship to children of non-nationals, plus their consequences of inability to vote, inability to buy property except in certain circumstances only, are merely some of them. All these mean that for most non-Bermudians including all from Britain who come to Bermuda to work in jobs Bermudians cannot or will not do or want, there can be little chance of staying beyond their Work Permit term, with no security of tenure, no prospects of citizenship, no opportunity to buy a house or condominium at the same price levels as Bermudians. But for their international business employers, it is a different story. Many were either incorporated in Bermuda or have moved their corporate headquarters to Bermuda, for international tax reasons. Why? Because Bermuda levies no taxes on their world business activities. So far, Bermuda offers them far more in assets than in liabilities. It pays them to come here, for as long as Bermuda's advantages as an offshore jurisdiction outweigh those of competing jurisdictions. It continues to do so for the international corporate entities, but not to their non-Bermudian employees for the reasons given above. Plus, it it is not true to say Bermuda has no taxes. It has no capital gains tax, true, but the other direct and indirect taxes it levies on managements, their staff, business visitors and tourists are many and they can be so very heavy that overall Bermuda's cost of living is one of the highest in the world, if not the highest, nearly three times more than in the UK and nearly four times more than in the USA. They include a direct income tax, in the form of a former Employment now Payroll tax, payable by employers and employees. It is based on what is earned from employment. It is currently nearly 15% with employers paying some and employees paying the balance. Bermuda Government Customs Duties averaging 35% of wholesale costs, translating into 100% or more at retail level, and Bermuda Government Annual License Fees on automobiles averaging $590 per auto. These are merely a few examples of why Bermuda has an appreciably higher cost of living than direct taxed and indirect taxed jurisdictions.

Nationals of countries like the USA, Canada, UK, Philippines, etc who live and work in Bermuda are liable to taxes in their countries on their Bermuda income over a certain amount. A form of taxation treaty with the USA, enacted in 1986, gives USA resident taxpayers in Bermuda a more than $80,000 discount off their US taxes payable, partly  because the overall cost of living overseas - in places like Bermuda - is recognized as much higher than in the USA. But it and the USA's IRS require US taxpayers resident in Bermuda to file. There is also a UK requirement for UK citizens resident in Bermuda, under the Tax Information Exchange Agreement in place between Bermuda and the United Kingdom since December 2007. One of the purposes is to detect individual and corporate tax dodgers.

Importing workers from developing nations is difficult or impossible because of a requirement that the UK, US or Canada must first issue a transit visa, even after they are granted work permits by Bermuda Immigration. Without transit visas they cannot come. Neither the Governor nor Deputy Governor can help as issuing transit visas did not involve Government House and that they have no influence over it. The USA is also withholding transit visas for some workers bound for Bermuda. The US Immigration Department states that in order to get a transit visa via the USA applicants must demonstrate strong social, economic and/or family ties outside the United States.

These collectively show the realities of working in Bermuda for potential employees who are not Bermudian. They are not shown in any other website. They need to be known and understood well in advance. There are many advantages of course - if you are paid appropriately - but also some matters about which newcomers should be well aware. One is that because Bermuda is so small - less than 22 square miles overall - and so isolated - more than 600 miles from the nearest mainland, North Carolina, USA - the cost of living in Bermuda is exceedingly high and there are many restrictions in citizenship, buying real estate and voting that are not found anywhere else in any western democracy.

Fun in Bermuda 1If you're professionally qualified and are offered employment on contract to a public or private sector employer and are paid enough to more than compensate you for the tiny size of Bermuda (less than 22 square miles), Bermuda can be a wonderful place to live and work. 

A good Bermuda employer will welcome you and treat you well. There are some major advantages to living and working in Bermuda - especially if you like the ocean, sun and beaches. 

But before you accept any employment, the first thing you need to know are the two different main types of Bermuda-based employers. They are, respectively, Bermudian companies and partnerships beneficially owned and managed by Bermudians, trading mostly if not exclusively in the local marketplace, namely offering goods and services to the Bermudian and non-Bermudian general public in Bermuda; and non-Bermudian but Bermuda-based entities trading mostly abroad or with each other but not trading locally. If you are not Bermudian yourself (see "Citizenship") you will have to be employed by one of either group, you won't be allowed to go into business for yourself unless you form your own international company and until you go through all the Bermuda Immigration Work Permit procedures.

Basics

Costs, cost comparisons, limitations and restrictions are important to note. They are some of the reasons why this author - who has done price comparisons between Bermuda, USA and United Kingdom - says that although there is only one direct tax on income in Bermuda (the former Employment now Payroll Tax on salaries split by employers and their employees), indirect taxes amount to substantially more taxation overall and make the cost of living in Bermuda 380 percent more than the USA and 280 percent more than in Canada and the United Kingdom. As a few examples to prove this point, take alcoholic drinks, annual licensing of a car, rents of an apartment or house, cost of food, cost to consumers of government, cost of electricity, cost of gasoline (petrol), cost of telephoning from Bermuda compared to the cost of telephoning from the USA to Western Europe, cost of Internet service, cost of owning and operating personal transportation and more. The average resident spends US$ 16,800 a year just in direct and indirect Bermuda Government taxes, fees and import duties.

Accommodation - Apartment or condo or house renting

Many international companies are forking out huge housing allowances to keep executives happy because they are intent on maintaining a presence in "one of the world's most important centres for reinsurance." The island attracts well-paid executives whose rental homes can come with a monthly price tag of $24,000. Foreign managers or senior executives in international insurance and finance companies typically receive a monthly allowance in the region of $5,000 and $10,000. For the lower sum, you can get a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo, but this would have no frills, probably no view, and the closer you get to Hamilton, the more you pay. Many foreigners come to the island with specific requirements. They want views of the ocean, a swimming pool, an old traditional house or a modern place. And, more often than not, they want something with easy access to Hamilton, near schools for their children. It is rare to find a place that matches every expectation. Bermuda is sophisticated but it's small and what many people don't understand when they arrive is that means there is not a large choice and therefore they have to be flexible. Many homeowners use their property today for additional income instead of investing in the stock market.  There is often very little on the market and while there is no commuting like in London for the women who don't work it can be a big shock. Here they are in a strange, expensive place, on a small island and often immigration laws mean they cannot work. There is a serious lack of schooling for boys and some newcomers will trouble with their landlords, an additional worry.

In your own best interests, negotiate this as part of an employment package. A good employer will either provide accommodation for a newcomer or should be asked to find a suitable place and secure a lease or monthly rental beforehand. Appropriate housing is extremely expensive to rent - as much as $32,000 a month - and can be very hard to find. Basic rents for a condominium or apartment range from $3,000 a month to $32,000 a month. Some good employers avoid the frustrations to newcomers of answering advertisements for places to rent, especially in their first month or two or three of employment, by putting them up for a time at employer's expense or with the expense shared, at guest houses or small hotels or efficiency units up to 20 minutes away by road. Will your employer offer you a monthly housing allowance to help pay your rent? An increasing number of international companies and some local companies do so. A local bank may offer a housing allowance up to 30 percent of an employee's salary if the job offer warrants it. 

In November 2010 the average rental price of a 

with average price here usually meaning not in the best residential areas and the longest distance from town.

Apartment or condo or house leasing. If you lease instead of own an apartment or condominium or home, note carefully that you will not rent by the month but will lease for a specific, mutually-agreed time. Leases are legal and breakage of a lease should not be attempted without risk of a severe penalty. 

If an employer, not a professional newcomer employee, signs a lease, great care should be taken by the employee not to put the employer at risk. The employee will still be liable to the employer for payment of utilities, conduct and care and interior maintenance of the leased propertyNote that renting an apartment or condo for $4,500 a month will require a salary of at least $120,000 a year. 

A house renting for $11,000 a month will require a salary of $308,000 a year

To get a realistic idea of what monthly rent you can afford if you rent an apartment by yourself and get no housing allowance, take no more than 28 percent of your gross annual salary pro-rated monthly.

Another factor to remember is always to ensure the telephone number, electricity and cable TV at the property are in your name when you arrive and are disconnected from your name when you leave.  

Expatriate employees should try not to spend more than 30 percent of their gross salary on where they rent. It should be large enough to accommodate a visiting family member from overseas. 

The Bermuda Government finds unfurnished and/or furnished accommodation for its contract officers (one bedroom for a single or married person, three bedrooms for a family with two children), with rent in excess of 25% of the contract officer's salary is fully subsidized. These Bermuda Government employed contract officers are expected to remain at the accommodation provided for at least three months but thereafter may choose to move into accommodation of their own choice. Rent in excess of 25% of the employee's salary will continue to be subsidized within reason.

All accommodation for all Bermuda Government contract officers is handled by the Ministry of Works and Engineering and Housing Residential Accommodation Officer.

Advance negotiations for employees

Discuss all these with your employer before you sign any contract.

Allowed and not allowed in Bermuda 

Bermuda, the world's wealthiest country according to the World Bank, limits its citizens and residents returning home  to $100 per household (no longer per person) in duty-free allowances per trip, with a 35% import duty slapped on everything in excess, including shoes, clothing, etc. It was $100 per person per trip until October 2011. Until 1989 it was US$400 a person, reduced in 1990/91 to US$250 a person before they pay duty on items they bring.  Visitors - non-residents -  have an allowance of $30 over and above their personal effects (see below). Items brought in by visitors and residents that are not within their duty free category incur an import duty of 35%. Produce receipts from a retail store satisfactory to the Customs Department of actual purchase price of the items or be prepared for the Customs Department to assess items for your payment of duty at much higher Bermuda prices. This is applied vigorously. To avoid being arrested and having goods confiscated, do not try to import goods into Bermuda without paying the duty. If at a hotel and with nothing illegal and with no items to declare, visitors may be waved through. If at a private home, you may be inspected. Visitors may bring in, duty free for personal use only while they are in Bermuda, their clothes and articles like cameras, golf bags, 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 0.454 kilos (1 pound weight) tobacco; 1 liter of liquor or wine and a $30 gift allowance. If they bring in any more in gifts or their value, they can be charged a heavy rate of duty - 35% of value - unlike in USA, Britain and Europe, where it does not matter whether your gifts are for yourself or a member of your family or associate or a complete stranger.

Why are Bermuda Customs revenues are so high? Because they are the biggest source of revenue for the Bermuda Government. 

Compare the following:

Normally, in the USA, for visitors or returning residents, the  duty-free allowance or exemption from Customs Duty is $400 per trip, but from November 4, 2002, it was raised from November 4, 2002 to $800 (from $400) for those who have not used the exemption in 30 days.

Note very carefully Illegal Imports. Bermuda operates a sensible strict ban on all illegal narcotics, in the Bermuda Government's Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 and Misuse of Drugs (Controlled Drugs) Order 2001 enacted on August 1, 2001. To avoid arrest for illegal narcotics like liquid ecstasy, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc. don't import them. There is a zero tolerance policy.

Airfare

Most employees from overseas have incoming airfare paid by employers for themselves and their spouses or children as part of a contract of employment. Employers have the right to and often hold return airline tickets for the initial life of a contract or until the tickets expire, whichever is sooner. Some employers will also pay some or all of annual vacation and compassionate leave fares, not just at the beginning and end of a contract.

Arriving and settling in 

Arrange to be met, if on a Work Permit. You may detained at the airport for a while longer than other passengers and may have your suitcases searched thoroughly by Immigration and Customs officials. See list of airlines and airport. Your first impressions will include seeing how colorful and bright the houses are, in pastels; the turquoise color of the sea and the prolific vegetation. Your first impressions of the City of Hamilton will be interesting. Newcomers from the UK or Ireland will not find any typical UK or Irish high-street-style stores except for a Marks and Spencer. Newcomers from USA or Canada will not find any American mega stores like Wal Mart, K-Mart, Target and more. Bermuda has none of these huge retail outlets. No stores are allowed in Bermuda unless they are at least 60% owned by Bermudians. As you walk down the street, it’s quite the norm for people to nod good morning or good afternoon, or whatever. Tell Bermudian shop assistants "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" before they assist you, it's the custom. Don't expect Bermudians to have a British accent. The most common local accent is not at all like the sing-song of the Caribbean islands 1,000 miles to the north. Instead it is similar to American or Canadian accents.

Air mail, surface mail and packages  

In normal conditions, from North America or Europe can take more than a week to arrive and is sometimes delayed for longer. Most of the incoming mail comes from the USA. Some mail from the USA is being imported by Federal Express by arrangement with the US Postal Service, but by no means all.  The local Post Office has no control over incoming airmail, only outgoing airmail. 

Always use first class air mail or courier service or secure electronic mail. There are several courier services operating to and from Bermuda. Cheaper services are not reliable.

Only car ships - no freight ships or scheduled aircraft - go between the Caribbean and Bermuda. Surface mail - when available from the USA and Canada, no longer available by letter or parcel to or from Bermuda and the UK -  can take many months, especially when misdirected/directed to places with no passenger shipping or airline connections to Bermuda.  Mail problems usually occur more frequently from October to March when, in more normal circumstances, air services from the USA to Bermuda are fewer in number and with smaller aircraft.  Because of this, regular air mail from the USA for Bermuda has been sent to London first, then redirected to Bermuda on British Airways on the three days a week winter service. To help avoid such problems, all Christmas airmail to Bermuda residents and visitors should be sent no later - and ideally much earlier than December 8.

Airmail stampOutgoing - going overseas - Christmas mailing of cards, letters and parcels. No information about this appears on the Bermuda General Post Office website. Instead, details are printed annually in a printed brochure from Post Offices. Deadlines apply, varying hugely by country. As merely a few examples,  the deadline in 2003 for Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa, etc was October 3; for Europe October 17; the UK November 7 and USA November 17. The brochure will give details of deadlines for all countries.

Packages sent to recipients from Bermuda by courier are treated in a different way to regular airmail. Recipients must always give their full physical postal addresses, postal codes and telephone numbers. Costs will include:

The overall effect is that a US$39 pair of trousers from a good US retail store like Land's End could end up costing the recipient over US$90.

Fun in Bermuda 2Alcoholic drinks 

Hugely expensive. A 1-liter bottle of rum or Scotch whisky or rum or vodka or other spirits costs from US$ 27 locally, even more than in UK. Beer by the case is more than twice the US price - about $40. There is a very high Bermuda Government import duty on all liquor. Wines are very substantially more than in the USA or Canada and more than in the UK.

Animal imports

See Pets.

Annual vacation (holidays) 

If you are from the USA or Canada, this is quite normal, but if you are from Britain, Ireland or rest of Europe, don't expect any vacation for at least six months, if not twelve as it is normal procedure to take your vacation only after you have earned it. North Americans who are not executives should expect vacations of two or three weeks a year for the first five years, rising to 3-4 weeks a year after 5 years. Bermuda has the American pattern of holidays or vacation, not British. Holiday laws in Britain do not apply in Bermuda. Britons and Europeans should not expect and will not get - long annual vacations of 4-6 weeks. 

Annual licensing of a car

Hugely expensive, about $650 for a mid-sized vehicle, compared to £190 per year in UK and far less in USA and Canada. About $1300 for a large one. About 200 to 500 percent more than in North America. 

Annual Salary and Salary Comparisons

Also see under Gross National Income per capita, below. The average overall gross salary in Bermuda $ or US$ is $54,330.70 in the local sector. In Government, it is $59,000. In the international sector, it is $78,800. In Bermuda, the annual highest salary for a top civil servant is PS 50, or $163,012. See Employment Work Permits in Bermuda for a listing of many other current Government salaries for specific posts.

They are shown so that non-Bermudians can see what Bermuda Government salaries are like and can compare them to the Cost of Living Guide. Bear in mind that basic salaries mentioned in job vacancies are the same, whether for Bermudians, others resident here and non-Bermudians who have not yet arrived. All salaries are annual.

Insurance companies don't always necessarily follow the figures below but because the Bermuda Government is by far and away Bermuda's largest employer, most private-sector companies don't pay any more. The trend is usually for positions to be advertised based on what they are worth to the employer, not what individual qualifications or backgrounds or personalities are worth.

To achieve some measure of a salary comparison between what you earn now, away from Bermuda, figure on the overall cost of living being 280% more in Bermuda than in the UK or Canada and 380% more than in the USA. Then see from which jurisdiction you will be better off. 

 Be aware of substantial Salary Deductions (see separate heading).

Bank accounts

All expatriates working in Bermuda will want to establish an account with one of these banks. Many larger Bermuda employers in other areas of commerce will pay salaries directly to bank accounts. Bermuda banks are often much more sophisticated in their services than banks in rural parts of Canada, Caribbean, UK and USA, etc. But they are expensive and don't give the same legal protections - such as FDIC insurance - to depositors as they do in Europe and North America. They are also much more expensive.

Basics, clothes, food, footwear, furniture, household appliances, etc.  

Visitors from the USA tell this author that what costs them $25 back home will cost them, on average, over US $100 here in Bermuda. Food alone is usually double or triple the price in the USA, United Kingdom, etc. As merely one example, fresh whole milk is over US$ 3.30 for half a gallon in Bermuda but only 99 pence (US $ 1.53) for 2 liters in the United Kingdom or the USA. Duties average 30 percent at wholesale level (but are much higher for boats and cars) and are often pushed up by local (Bermudian or mostly Bermudian) retailers, making most goods much more expensive than in the USA from where most were exported.

Bermuda Employment Laws

Employment law in Bermuda comprises local legislation (statutes enacted by Parliament) and English and Bermuda common law (case law decided by courts over the years). The relevant legislation, under Bermuda laws  is The Employment Act 2000 (as amended) which applies to all employees working wholly or mainly in Bermuda, including foreign employees. It sets out minimum statutory entitlements, including notice of termination rights and various leave benefits (vacation, sick leave, maternity, bereavement, public duty leave, etc. It mandates that there be a written contract (“Statement of Employment”) in place setting out fundamental terms of the employment relationship . If the contract contains more favourable terms than the Act, then the contract prevails. Parties cannot contract out of the Act’s minimum requirements. It provides that an employee can only be dismissed for a valid reason, such as ability, performance, conduct or business operational requirements (redundancy); that statutory redundancy pay (“severance allowance”) must be paid if conditions of redundancy are made out (capped at 6 months’ wages).  It protects employees from disciplinary action or termination (“unfair dismissal”) on human rights related grounds or for being a whistle-blower. It defines constructive dismissal (also “unfair dismissal”) and provides compensation for same based on the employer’s unreasonable conduct. It provides for a mandatory warning process for employees engaging in misconduct (short of serious misconduct) or unsatisfactory performance and time to improve (employees engaged in serious misconduct related to the employment relationship can be summarily dismissed). It has a complaint process for breach of the statute to an Inspector and then to the Employment Tribunal, with a 3 month limitation period. Compensation is limited to 6 months’ wages or reinstatement. It shows that either side can terminate the contract for any reason and without notice during a contractual probation period (if there is one, the contract must state whether there is one or not). It gives priority to an employee’s claims for unpaid wages and accrued vacation pay in a winding up action.

Note that The Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 (as amended) provides that employees who are not Bermudian or a spouse of a Bermudian or a Permanent Resident’s Certificate (PRC) holder must have a work permit issued by the Department of Immigration to work in Bermuda. These can range from 3 months to 10 years in time (the latter subject to several stringent criteria) and are renewable. The time for processing is approximately 8 to 10 days (for “fast track” or “temporary permits”) or 6 to 10 weeks (for standard permits of 1 year or more). A work permit will not be issued where a qualified Bermudian, spouse of a Bermudian, non-Bermudian dependant of a Bermudian, Permanent Resident Certificate holder or other person with a qualifying connection to Bermuda applies for the position. Employees are generally subject under Bermuda immigration policy to a maximum of 6 years of working under a permit in Bermuda (“terms limits.”) Certain positions can be deemed “key” to a business and the holder of that position can be exempted from term limits or receive an extension of to their term limit of up to 3 additional years. Other grounds for exemption can be made out (e.g. worldwide shortage in that industry, company hardship, etc.).

Bermuda's Human Rights Act 1981 prohibits discrimination and harassment in the employment sector on the basis of race, place of origin, colour, ancestry, sex (gender), marital status, disability, legitimacy, religious belief or political belief. Sexual harassment is also prohibited and made a criminal offence.

Bermuda's Labour Relations Act 1975 & the Trade Dispute Act 1992 provide for the hearing of a labour dispute by the Minister or an Arbitration Panel/Trade Disputes Tribunal. Governs strike actions. This applies to unionized employees (note that virtually all employees of international companies in Bermuda are non-unionized).

Bermuda's The Worker’s Compensation Act 1965 provides for compensation by employers to workers who are injured on the job, regardless of fault. If negligence on the part of the employer is involved, the employee can sue in the Court for damages.

Common Law Courts.  An employee elect to pursue a breach of employment contract claim (including wrongful dismissal) in the Courts for damages. The limitation period is 6 years. The damages obtainable are dependent on common law principles derived from Court decided cases over the years.

Miscellaneous:

For more detailed advice regarding these basic rights and obligations existing in Bermuda, contact Juliana Snelling at jsnelling@canterburylaw.bm or Paul Harshaw at paul.harshaw@canterburylaw.bm

Bermuda Government

This includes all branches plus quangos and facilities like Bermuda International Airport, Bermuda Land Development Corporation, Bermuda Ministry of Education, Bermuda Police Service, Bermuda Regiment, Bermuda Weather Service, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, and more. Be aware of its priority policies to employ qualified Bermudians first, qualified spouses of Bermudians second; qualified non-nationals third; and to limit in time the Work Permits of non-nationals in the fourth category, to, generally speaking, no longer than 6 years. In all other countries, these racial guidelines and regulations apply only in the public sector. But the Bermuda Government applies them in the private sector as well.

Bermuda restrictions and limitations applicable to non-Bermudians

The cost to companies of bringing someone to Bermuda is very high and once here the cost to the new employees of traveling abroad is very high. It’s hard for them to make a career move because they can’t stay here forever. Spouses may not be able to get work and could be frustrated, with repercussions. Children, even when born in Bermuda of non-Bermudian parents, will never qualify for scholarships available locally, or be eligible for citizenship. Life on a very small island with limited resources and a limited-by-immigration controls labor pool tends to drive up prices.

Better Business Bureau

None in Bermuda, unlike in the USA.

Births

Expatriates (all non-Bermudians) should note that when any of their children are born in Bermuda, they are not Bermudian unless a parent is as well. See Citizenship notes. Being born in Bermuda may entitle them to British Overseas Territory Status until they are 18 if they are not British, but being British does not confer citizenship of Bermuda. Persons who are British but are not also Bermudian are regarded as foreigners in Bermuda - like any other nationality - and may not vote or own property or switch from job to job or be eligible as teenagers for educational scholarships or own local businesses in the same way Bermudians can.. 

Boats

See under "Boats" in Watersports.

Cats

See Pets.

Cell or mobile phones

Most are the USA type, not European type. Their use is as common in Bermuda as it is in USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe. If you are from North America, bring your cell phones which should work here with a local cellular account. But if you are from a country with a GSM system, be sure to bring or buy a GSM cellphone. UK newcomers should not bring their GSM mobile phones (cell phones) until they have double-checked that they can be used in Bermuda. 

Children

Unlike in the UK, Bermuda does not provide any kind of financial allowance to non-Bermudian parent or parents when a child is born. Unlike in the USA, Canada, UK, etc where a child is deemed to be a citizen when born there, a child born in Bermuda is not and will not be deemed a Bermudian unless one of the parents is Bermudian. See Citizenship

Christmas cards and gifts to or from overseas

There is a Christmas season surface airlift mailing system from Bermuda to most parts of the world but to take advantage of it, use the permissible latest dates provided by the Bermuda Post Office to send Christmas mail, usually by October or November depending on the distance. If you expect to receive cards or packages by Christmas, tell your friends or family overseas to send them at least a month beforehand, or face a high risk of not getting Christmas letters, cards and presents until the second or third or fourth week in January or later.  If parcels received from abroad by post contain gifts valued at over $30, a customs duty will be payable.

Citizen's Advice Bureau

None in Bermuda, unlike in the UK.

Citizenship

Commuting

If you live in the easternmost parishes - St. George's or Town of St. George area - or westernmost parishes such as Sandys  - both 11 miles from the City of Hamilton - and need to be at work there by 8:30 or 9 am, leave from where you live no later than 7:30 am. Traffic is often that bad. It is often even worse for western parish dwellers if traffic breaks down on Harbour Road So are the late afternoon rush hours from 4:30 to 6 pm. If you are on a scooter or moped instead of a car and value your life, do not follow the irritating and dangerous Bermuda habit of overtaking stopped or slowing car traffic and going to the front of the line. 4-wheeled vehicles, not those with 2 wheels, have the right of way. 

Computers

It is suggested that all newcomers bring laptops or notebooks with them when they first arrive. Make sure you ask your new employer beforehand to check for you to see if you will be expected to pay Customs import duty on at at the airport on arrival. If so, ask for this to be reimbursed as the import duty will be be 35% of the value. Be sure to bring a receipt with you from the supplier of the equipment. After you've arrived and  become a resident, if you travel abroad and come back with laptop or notebook computers, etc. know that Bermuda Government import duties (averaging 35 percent) will levied by the Government on your arrival.  The local costs of computers and peripherals are about three times higher in Bermuda than USA and more than twice UK prices. Also note that Bermuda prices are usually without lots of extras including a printer, scanner, choice of software options and 1 year free ADSL (Broadband) Internet access.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Issued regularly by the relevant department of the Bermuda Government.

Consumer Protection Act 1999 and Sale of Goods Act 2002 apply

This became law in Bermuda on December 1, 2000. A few areas covered by the Act are truth in advertising; unfair business practices; product recalls; product safety; unconscionable consumer representations and penalties for non-compliance, for regular and disabled or physically handicapped visitors and locals. Customers in Bermuda are often perplexed about why guarantees aren't always honored. A lot of retailers aren't buying into the manufacturers warranty because their customs duty doubles. They pay duty when they ship it in and they pay duty when they ship it out. Some companies do buy into the warranty to a point. They don't buy the full coverage. Guarantees or warranties are often far shorter in Bermuda than in North America or UK. A case in point is for automobiles where most warranties are usually for one year only, not three except in specific cases. 

Cost of living

Bermuda is a very expensive place in which to live and work. Be prepared for this. The shock will be far greater for North Americans. Overall, the cost of living in Bermuda is nearly three times more than in most of the UK or Canada and nearly four times more than in most of the USA. 

Credit Cards

If you are from the USA or Canada or Europe or Australia, it is recommended you retain your current credit cards from those countries as their benefits, services and card member's coverage may be better there than Bermuda-issued credit cards. Very often, Bermuda-issued credit cards offered for purchases to be sent to Bermuda are not accepted by many American retail and wholesale stores. Also, when traveling abroad from Bermuda, only US residents - not Bermuda residents - may enroll in the American Express Premium Baggage Protection Plan. Nor will American Express give you, if you have a Bermuda-issued card - the same insurance liability coverage when renting cars overseas that you get if a resident of other countries. However, certain credit cards - for example, MasterCard with 1 800-307-7309 - have a toll-free number that works from Bermuda - an exception to the general rule of most 1-800 numbers from Bermuda.

Criminal Injuries Compensation

Covers only dependents, low by international standards. In other countries - but not Bermuda - compensation can be significant for criminal injuries or death. In the USA, families of victims of September 11, 2001 in New York received up to US$5 million. In Bermuda, on July 3, 1996, when 17-year old Canadian tourist Rebecca Middleton - see by name in Bermuda Laws at www.bermuda-online.org/legal.htm - was tortured, raped repeatedly, sodomized, knifed 32 times and murdered, her family had to wait 10 years before being awarded in 2006 the nominal sum of US$2,300.

Customs Duty on household and personal effects for newcomers

Check with your Bermuda employer. By doing so you may be exempted from paying certain charges. For example, in the USA household effects are duty-free. These include such items as furniture, carpets, paintings, tableware, stereos, linens, and similar household furnishings; tools of the trade, professional books, implements, and instruments. In the USA you may import household effects you acquired abroad duty-free if you used them for at least one year while you were abroad and they are not intended for anyone else or for sale. In the USA, note that clothing, jewelry, photography equipment, portable radios, and vehicles are considered personal effects - not household effects - and cannot be brought in duty-free as household effects. However, duty is usually waived on personal effects more than one year of age. See http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/duty_free_reduced_rates.xml 

But not always in Bermuda. If your employment contract allows you to ship all your household goods including furniture at your employer's expense, bring as much as you can of everything you may need. But be aware that if, once you arrive in Bermuda you then change employers, your original employer may not be liable. 

Once you are a Bermuda resident, each time you travel for over 3 days, you can claim the $100 per household allowance on what you buy abroad or lump all such allowances together if you're returning to Bermuda as a family. But retain in your possession and produce if necessary the receipts for clothes, personal effects and goods you purchase abroad, in case their value declared by you is challenged by a Bermuda Customs officer. Some goods are duty free, such as books and computer business software (not games). The mere $100 per household duty free allowance you are allowed by the Bermuda Government as a returning Bermuda resident does not compare well with the present per person duty free allowance applicable in the United Kingdom for purchases outside the European Union (EU); the much more generous rate for travelers within the EU; $300 for Canadians returning to Canada; and $800 in the USA for US residents visiting Bermuda; or US$600 when US visitors return from most non-USA islands in the Caribbean more than 900 miles to the south; or US$1,200 for US visitors returning from American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands.

Also - unlike US citizens or registered aliens returning home to the USA after a vacation or business trip who qualify routinely for a further US Customs exemption of up to $100 per day of bone fide goods shipped from abroad, for their own personal use - Bermudians or residents do not get the same consideration from the Bermuda Government. 

All duty-paid valuable articles should be taken to be registered with the Customs Department at any of its facilities prior to owner's departure if temporarily exported for personal use, on Customs Form 52a to avoid having to pay duty again on re-entry. All articles should be readily identifiable.

Dentists and dental insurance

By no means a standard inclusion in Heath Care and Major Medical Insurance. Only the better employers have it and with varying degrees of coverage and exclusions. Newcomers should ask their prospective employers whether they are covered and for what dental benefits. Before they arrive in Bermuda, newcomers should have their teeth checked out thoroughly.

Disability benefits

There are none in Bermuda, except to a few Bermudians whose complete lack of real estate and any regular income qualify them.

Dogs

See Pets. 

Dress Code

More business-like than you might expect. Men have the advantage here, with their Bermuda Shorts.  

Driving Licenses

There are no reciprocal arrangements with the United Kingdom or Canada or USA or any Caribbean island for mutual recognition of driving licences. Many countries - but not Bermuda - have such reciprocal arrangements. It means that when Bermudians or non-Bermudian newcomers go to the UK to work or study, they are not allowed to have the same arrangements there as do those holding driving licences from Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Canada, Cyprus, European Union countries. Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and Switzerland.  Even with such overseas driving licences, most newcomers - unless they qualify for exemption -  must take and pass the same full written and driving tests as those who have never used them before, in order to drive a car or motor cycle or scooter or auxiliary cycle in Bermuda. It is up to Bermuda to make similar reciprocal arrangements and so far this has not been done. Bermuda does not yet have the same driving license standards for international businesses based here and their employees imported from overseas as the major international business countries.  

And even though Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory and Britain is part of the European Community, Bermudians in Britain cannot claim EC/EAA driving rights. However, they may drive on their Bermuda licences for up to one year. 

Education

If you have children, you have a choice of a public or private school. At a public, or Government-run, school, your child will be educated in a multi-racial environment. Unless you are from Bermuda, you may not know that Bermuda is mostly black. There may come a time when only private schools will accept children who are not local citizens. This has already happened in the Cayman Islands.

Electricity & Gas (cooking)

Electricity in Bermuda is provided solely by the Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCo). It is a government-approved monopoly. It does not have off-peak rates. In addition to published monthly charges, it imposes a significant fuel surcharge tax not published but very real. 

The voltage system is 120 volts, 60 cycles - same as in North America. If from there, bring small electrical appliances (hair dryers, shavers, etc.) for your stay. Some larger appliances use 220/240 volts, smaller ones and lights use 110 volts. If from the United Kingdom, note that none of the UK-produced consumer appliances will work properly or at all in Bermuda. If returning to the UK from Bermuda after a 6 or 9 year employment contract or earlier, try to sell or give away your US-type appliances before you go.

Electrical power is NOT hydroelectric or solar or nuclear or wind generated, or offered by a choice of organizations (as in the United Kingdom or Europe). There, In Bermuda, the above alternatives are impractical or too costly and the architecture of most Bermuda homes don't allow them, so fuel oil -  by far and away the most expensive way to produce electricity in the developed countries - is used exclusively. It is piped directly into the central electricity generating plant owned by the utility on Serpentine Road in Pembroke Parish, west of the City of Hamilton, via a mile underground pipe from the oil docks terminal at Ferry Reach, St. George's Parish.

Electricity is not included in the rental price of most apartments, condos or single family dwellings and is very high compared to most USA, Canadian and European cities, based on imported fuels which have a huge Bermuda Government import duty (As a comparison, in one of the New England states, the average family with children might use about 6,400 kWh on an annual basis (including room air conditioning in the summer) for approximately $63 a month). In Bermuda, the same cost could be $480 a month for a three-bedroom house with more than one air conditioner. You will need air conditioning, it will be too hot or humid for eight months a year without it. These are general estimates which vary depending upon family size, electrical appliances and overall usage. Try to get overhead fans where you live.

Recommended to all locals and newcomers are energy-efficient light bulbs and consumer electric appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers and washing machines with an Energy Efficiency Recommended logo or North American equivalent.

There is no central heating in most Bermuda homes and apartments. Some winter days and nights can be damp and chilly for non Bermudians accustomed to seasonal central heating. Some homes have a fireplace, while others may have a ductless split heat pump system with reverse cycle heat during the winter and air conditioning in summer. If not, electric heaters and separate air conditioning units for winter and summer comfort levels are available commercially.

Emigrating to Bermuda is not possible for the following reasons

Newcomers who are not Bermudian won't be emigrating to Bermuda but going there on Work Permits which don't give you permanent residency or security of tenure and won't ever give you voting rights or citizenship. Most if not all Work Permits now have a maximum length of 6 years with no further renewals except in certain pre-stated cases. But you may find other aspects very appealing, particularly so if you get on well with mixed races with black being 70%, will keep out of political issues and plan on using Bermuda as a springboard for travel or emigration to say Canada or USA or Australasia. If you are not married yet but want to and come to Bermuda with a partner of the opposite sex, you may wish to marry before you leave for Bermuda. Why? Because usually when one person who is not married arrives in Bermuda, any non-spouse visiting him or her is generally limited to a maximum stay of three weeks, not three to 6 months as most other countries allow. Over-staying has very serious repercussions.

Employment for your spouse and any older children may be impossible or restricted

Certain jobs - mostly non managerial and non-professional office and retail clerical areas, secretaries and receptionists, etc. - are closed entirely to non Bermudians unless they are spouses (not personal partners) of Bermudians and with 5 years or more of continuous residence as such. This is a Bermuda Government Immigration policy and is very strictly enforced. If your spouse has a good Business or Commerce or Economics degree or equivalent, especially a graduate degree, and is professionally qualified, his or her prospects for working in Bermuda may be better but cannot be guaranteed by the employer of the first spouse and are always dependent on (a) the employer of the second spouse; (b) Bermuda Government Immigration and (c) only if a similarly qualified and capable Bermudian is not available at the time and question and/or at any later date. If you have non Bermudian children who will be 14 years old or over while you are here, they will probably never be able to get full time or seasonal jobs as students. They can do so in larger countries with fewer restrictions. Non-Bermudian persons who are not spouses but partners or significant others or friends or are engaged to non-Bermudians should be prepared to spend a maximum of 3 weeks visit before having to leave and risk severe problems to themselves and their loved ones if they try to get employment while in Bermuda.

Partners - but not husbands or wives - should not come to live, only to visit for 3 weeks or less. Why? The following are among the reasons: 

Employment Rights

Under the Employment Act 2000, employees are entitled to legislated benefits from employers. They include two weeks holiday (vacation) after one year; no unauthorized docking of salaries or wages; a written contract after one week's employment; a 40-hour week; time and a half, or time off, after 40 hours, with possible  exemptions; paid Public Holidays; a rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours each week; 8 days paid sick leave per year; unlimited time off to attend ante-natal classes for pregnant employees; 8 weeks paid and 4 weeks unpaid maternity leave after one year; statutory notice period; bereavement leave of 3 days unpaid or 5 days unpaid if traveling abroad; disciplinary procedure; time off for court duty, voting, meeting of Government Boards, Bermuda Regiment, Reserve Police, Senate or House of Assembly; notice of 1 week if weekly paid, 2 weeks if bi-weekly paid, 1 month in any other case; employers cannot sack employees for complaining about their treatment; an employees can take an employer to the Employment Tribunal for unfair or constructive dismissal.

Employment workforce

39,786 – The total workforce number at the end of 2012.

Exemptions from overseas taxes are limited

You will probably not be exempted from your own home country's taxation policies when you work in Bermuda, as Americans, Canadians, those from the Philippines and United Kingdom citizens who still own real-estate back home have discovered. 

If you're a citizen of the USA, or US resident aliens or US long-term Bermuda residents, you may be able to claim a percentage (subject to a maximum) of your Bermuda earned income if, before and so long as you file your Foreign Earned Income Exclusion - Form 2555 and tax return, as recognition by the USA of the much high cost of local living and higher rate of local taxation overall in countries beyond the USA. If you don't file properly, you get no exclusion.  Also note IRS Contribution limits and that for a US belonger and taxpayer in Bermuda who qualifies, there is a Section 529 Savings Plans for College incentive.

Employment Tax

Now referred to in Bermuda as the Payroll Tax. See http://www.taxbermuda.gov.bm/guide_payroll.htm 

Expatriate Economic and Quality Rankings

October 9, 2012. Bermuda has the second highest salary for expatriates — just behind Singapore, one of the Island’s main competitors. According to HSBC’s fifth annual Expat Explorer survey, Bermuda ranked second overall in Economics League table, as well as whether expats feel the Island is a wealth hot spot, and ranked first in disposable income. Expat Economic findings reveal how economic situations differ for expats around the world and how countries compare with one another. The survey is the largest survey of expatriates around the world, interviewing 5,300 expatriates from 100 countries, across the globe, including Bermuda, making it the largest ever sample to date. A sample size of 30 or more respondents was needed from each country to be included in the results and as such, only 30 countries qualified. The Island ranked in the middle of the pack for overall experience (15th spot), with Cayman Islands (1), Singapore (4), Switzerland (7), Bahrain (11) and Hong Kong (12) ranking higher. Bermuda ranked 14th for the ease with which expats can set up here and ranked in the ninth spot for quality of life which fell from fifth in 2010. Bermuda was not included in the 2011 survey due to lack of participants. Bermuda ranked close to the bottom of the pile, in the 29th spot, for the ease at which expatriates integrate into the local community. Bermuda also ranked in the top ten for the local weather, commute to work, work/life balance, social life and sports. Meanwhile, the Island ranked close to the bottom regarding access to quality healthcare, organizing schools for children, access to shops, availability of entertainment and finding accommodation. “This is the fifth year we’ve run the Expat Explorer survey and the quality and depth of the findings continue to provide a wealth of information for the expat community,” said Dean Blackburn, head of HSBC Expat. “Not only is our online interactive tool a valuable and trusted resource for expats, the insights also help us as a business offer advice to those looking to grow and protect their wealth while living or working abroad.” The survey revealed that Southeast Asia has come to the fore as a leading destination for expat earning potential. Four additional countries in the region also make the top ten, including Thailand (3), Hong Kong (4), China (7) and Vietnam (10). Expatriates in Southeast Asia continue to benefit from increased earnings with Singapore holding the largest proportion of wealthy expats of any country. More than half (54 percent) of Singapore-based expatriates who took part in the Expat Explorer survey earn more than $200,000 per year, compared to a global survey average of only seven percent.

Expatriate Management and Mobility Awards (EMMA's)

See Forum for Expatriate Management

Expatriate news outlets

Expatriate Organizations in Bermuda

Quite a few, including:

Full list of all Associations and non-profit groups and organizations in Bermuda

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of the USA and how it affects Americans, Bermudians and those with US business connections

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Account_Tax_Compliance_Act. For how it affects those living in Brmuda see under Banking

Those likely to be affected by FATCA include US citizens and green card holders resident in the US and living abroad such as Bermuda who have foreign financial bank accounts, financial interests and other holdings; US residents for income tax purposes (those who do not have a US passport or citizenship but have resided in the US long enough to meet the substantial presence test), and others with US connections such US owned foreign entities. Also liable are US-classified foreign financial institutions and non-financial foreign entities including all those with US proprietary investments, US account holders, or other US financial dealings. FATCA cooperation is both encouraged and enforceable in Bermuda because Bermuda has signed Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) in the last few years with the United States and other countries. TIEAs, tax treaties, and Intergovernmental Agreements all aid in mutual information exchange cooperation. In cases where tax evasion, etc, is suspected or determined, the US Internal Revenue Service has profound regulatory powers (agreed on by the TIEAs and tax treaties) to request detailed significant confidential information on specified US individuals and related parties.

Foreign Currency Purchase Tax

See http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=275&&PageID=231425&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true. All who work in or have business dealings in Bermuda or who visit should note that Bermuda, uniquely in the economies of the international business centers, has a Foreign Currency Purchase Tax (FCPT).  It applies to the purchase of all non-local currencies including the US Dollar. On February 26, 2010 the Bermuda Government doubled this tax, from one half of 1% to a full 1% per transaction. This includes all purchases of foreign currencies for travel and business purposes and all telegraphic (wire) transfers of monies from Bermuda to individuals and businesses abroad. In addition to bank charges built into the cost of wire transfers, the Bermuda Government charge consumers $1,000 for every $100,000 taken or wired abroad. There is no Government Receipt given for this FCPT charge. 

Garages - private, at houses, apartments, condos, flats, to protect vehicles

Whether buying or renting, an apartment of any size or house with a garage is essential for a car or moped or scooter. Those without one should be avoided because vehicles not stored in them just do not stand up to Bermuda's salt-laden air, constant winter gales and periodic hurricanes. Do not leave your vehicle outside at night without being garaged. Even rust-proofing is only partly effective for garaged vehicles.

Gasoline (petrol)

Bermuda, at over US9.50 a gallon, is one of the most expensive places in the world, three times more expensive than in the USA, more than double what it is in Toronto, nearly as expensive as in London, England. The web site tells why.

Gross National Income and Highest Salaries

Bermuda is Britain's oldest British Overseas Territory, self-governing, with its own laws including those on citizenship, commerce, customs duties, employment, finance, health, insurance, investments, hospitalization, immigration, taxation, trade, welfare, etc. It is not part of the European Community, unlike Britain. Despite its small size it is an important offshore business jurisdiction, the registered corporate home of many multinational business entities, particularly for insurance and reinsurance companies. The World Bank rates Bermuda as one of the top three jurisdictions in Gross National Income per capita. 

How they compare, according to October 2013 World Bank figures:

Highest salaries

Reinsurance underwriters are now earning almost double the salary of lawyers, while the number of international business workers is outstripping civil servants by more than 500, according to August 2012 statistics released by Government's Employment Briefs report. The underwriters top the league table for high-earning occupations in the administrative and managerial sector, with annual earnings of $314,310. Finance general managers ($306,875) and re/insurance brokers ($263,750) come in second and third respectively. Medical pathologists lead the way in the professional and technical stakes at an annual salary of $292,500, followed by actuaries ($207,367) and lawyers ($160,031) to complete the top three. Judges were back in fourth place with $125,142, while quantity surveyors ($103,500), civil engineers ($102,273) and dentists ($102,273) also merited a place in the first 10.

There was also disparity between male and female earnings, with men raking in $300,000 as finance general managers and women $114,000, and $140,000 as general administration general managers versus $88,286 for women. Male personnel managers drew in $129,000 compared to $103,000 for females.

Guide to Bermuda taxes, for newcomers

See http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=275&&PageID=231345&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true 

From the Office of the Bermuda Government's Tax Commissioner

Health insurance, health care services and hospitals

Cost of Bermuda Healthcare to consumers

Rising Healthcare costs in Bermuda per year

healthcare benefits and claims

healthcare claims

Homes, housing & Apartments

Also see details about 

More than a third of families’ spending in Bermuda is now going on housing — nearly double that of the US. Households spent more than $740 million on housing in 2010. The corresponding figure for housing in America is just 18 percent.

Human Rights in Bermuda

US companies suing or being sued for Human Rights cases will not have their cases heard under Bermuda Human Rights laws. One reason is Bermuda Human Rights laws are for Bermudian individuals only, not corporations local or international. Another is because, as a US judge ruled in Los Angeles in August 2003 in a Unocal case affecting a USA-operating corporation, a non-Bermudian corporation cannot conduct business in Bermuda even though it is based here.

Immigration Approval required for promotions and offers of business partnerships to non-Bermudians

Newcomers should note that only in Bermuda - not in any other country - employers are required to seek approval from the Bermuda Government's Department of Immigration before any non-Bermudian can be offered a business promotion or partnership in a law office or accounting or consulting or any other kind of entity. Only in Bermuda are local citizens given such power over expatriates. Only in Bermuda can they challenge if they wish to, with official government backing, such offers of promotions or partnerships based on merit.

Importing small animals 

See Pets.

Insects

Newcomers are advised to be meticulous in their household cleaning, primarily for their own protection against ants (everywhere) cockroaches (everywhere), mould and mildew. Plus, the high average humidity year-round and the lack of moving air and sunlight in your rented home or apartment mean items such as leather may be affected.

Insurance on cars, homes and contents

Only local - Bermudian - insurers can offer this. Very expensive compared to rates in the USA, Canada and UK. In Bermuda, homes should be insured for their replacement value, not their market value. Be aware that while many homes have seen their market value prices drop in 2010 and 2011, the costs of replacing them has risen as local construction firms and individuals have not dropped their prices. Re motor vehicle insurance you may be able to qualify for a no claims bonus if you can produce evidence from your former insurer overseas. But when you return to or go to say the UK, your no claims bonus in Bermuda may not qualify because Bermuda is not part of the European Economic Community.

International or exempted companies

So-called because they are exempted from having to be Bermudian. They are also based here - some are incorporated here - but do business strictly beyond Bermuda. Although they include local offices of some of the world's best-known insurance firms - those offering medical, health insurance, insurance and re-insurance - and investment firms, they are not allowed to offer their products or services in the local marketplace because they are not "local companies." Collectively they now bring in more revenue for the Bermuda Government and Bermuda generally than tourism.

International investments bought locally

 What will cost you $8 per trade in the USA, or via an overseas online investment broker, will be about US $29.95 if bought here, an accurate reflection of the differences in the cost of living.

Internet service

Available island-wide in ADSL or Broadband coverage and speeds.

Laws and legal system

It is often assumed, wrongly, that the UK British legal system applies in Bermuda because it is a (nominal) British colony. No UK/British laws apply, all laws are local and can sometimes have major differences between them and American British or Canadian laws. A classic case is Bermuda's Constitution. Unlike other constitutions, its Human Rights and other provisions cover Bermudians only, not those who are not even if they are born here and do not have a Bermudian parent.

Libraries

In addition to the Bermuda National Library - a public library shown by name in the City of Hamilton - with its Adult, Reference, Mobile and Youth outlets, there is also the open-to-all Bermuda College Library at the Bermuda College. Phone 239-4033 or e-mail dva@bercol.bm. Persons employed at major law firms will find that they too have extensive libraries - not public, for their staff.

Limitation on number of children who are not Bermudian 

Employers will not be allowed to import into Bermuda any prospective employer and a spouse neither of whom were born in Bermuda or do not have Bermuda citizenship or status if they have more than two children. This is a Bermuda Government Immigration policy for all in the private sector. Children born in Bermuda of non-Bermudian parents are not Bermudian.

Limitation on length of time of visits by a person not a spouse or child

Visits of up to three weeks are fine but special permission by applicants is needed from Immigration, with reasons why, for any longer.

Littering of residential premises

The Waste and Litter Control Act 1987and its penalties may apply, but only if the litter from yours or another person's rented or leased or owned apartment or condominium or house is visible from a public place, for example, from a main road or estate road, park, etc. This type of litter should always be reported first to the Bermuda Government's Department of Works and Engineering for investigation.

Local companies and their definition  

Must be Bermudian by law - in other words at least 60% beneficially owned by Bermudians - to trade in the local marketplace, with the option of doing so overseas too, from a Bermuda corporate base. They buy goods or services or both from overseas, mostly the USA. Many have Bermuda Government contracts. In 99 percent of cases, they operate only in Bermuda. Notable exceptions are the two biggest of the three banks, with offices in various other parts of the world; and some accounting and audit companies with Bermuda-owned local offices and international affiliates. Again, be aware of the Bermuda Government's priority CURE policies now applicable to all local and international employers to employ qualified black Bermudians first, qualified other Bermudians second, qualified spouses of Bermudians third; qualified non-nationals fourth; and to limit in time the Work Permits of non-nationals employed in the fourth category to, generally speaking, no longer than 6 years.

Medical doctors

All medical doctors in Bermuda must be licensed locally before they qualify  and - with the exception of those working at the two hospitals -  all are private. 

Mobile phones

The European way of describing cell phones. There are several local suppliers. 

National Pension Scheme Act and corporate Pension plans 

See the Bermuda Government's The Pension Commission, at http://www.pensioncommission.bm/. Not Social Security (see separately), but private pension plans. The National Pension Scheme Act 1999 became effective on 1st January 2000. All employers, whether local or international or exempted must comply, for every employee whether Bermudian or a non-Bermudian spouse of a Bermudian of from 23 years of age who works a minimum of 720 hours per calendar year. Employers may, however, offer more generous eligibility provisions to employees by allowing them to become members of their pension plan at an earlier age and with fewer numbers of hours worked. While 65 for men and women is when those eligible in Bermuda will get Social Security, private pension plans can be more generous and in lesser age as well. Note that the Act specifies private pensions only for Bermudian and international or exempted company employers employing Bermudians or non-Bermudian spouses of Bermudians. There is no requirement to establish pension plans for guest workers, which may come as a shock to the latter. Non-Bermudian employees should ask local and international companies and or the Bermuda Government employing them what, if anything, they offer as private pension plans or equivalent, so they know where they stand and what they can expect to take with them when they leave Bermuda.

For those who qualify under the Act for pension eligibility, the pension scheme (plan) can be offered only by approved local insurance companies, not the "exempted" or "international" variety registered in Bermuda but not "corporate citizens" as they are often referred to, inaccurately.  

The Act removed many of the anomalies and restrictions that since the 1970s for "approved private pension plans" had existed in some with 15 or more years service but had severely restricted or totally excluded others, for example all those with say 12 years service with the same employer by retirement age. The current Act creates some portability for plans of all employers and employees. But for some people close to retirement age when it came into effect, it was far too late to ensure that once they become senior citizens and retire from working, they will have an adequate income without hardship. 

Minimum contribution rates are based on pensionable earnings per year.  At January 14, 2012 Approved Pension Plan Administrators under the Act were:

Owning and operating a business in Bermuda

Non-Bermudians, who include all Britons who don't hold Bermuda Government-certified Bermuda Status and are not Bermudians by local family ties and residence, are not permitted to go into the local market place to work for themselves. They can probably do so however once (a) their Bermudian spouse - not partner - is officially given a minimum of 60% of the business entity in the local market place and (b) if/when Bermuda Immigration issues the appropriate entry and work permit for that specific business entity. However, a non-Bermudian not necessarily resident in Bermuda may, after approval by the Bermuda Monetary Authority as the relevant regulatory agency form a Bermuda-incorporated international company not trading in the local market place but solely overseas from a Bermuda base.

Owning and operating personal transportation in Bermuda

See Bermuda Transportation for Residents. If you are not well paid by Bermuda's standards - below the average Bermuda Government salary of $55,000 - figure on at least US $19, 800 (compared to 7,300 pounds or US$ 11,600 in the United Kingdom) for a good Class A (least expensive to license) 4 or  5 door model. The cost is appreciably more than in the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, etc. 

The import duty alone on a more expensive one than this can exceed $13,000. Second-hand ones can be acquired for as low as $6000, but for all cars above a Class C, factor in a further $60-$80 a month for annual licensing by the Bermuda Government. Light or pick-up trucks are not allowed in Bermuda to anyone who does not own and operate a local business. (Beyond Bermuda, they are allowed as alternatives to or as well as automobiles). Find out whether or not it will be economical or practical to ship your car back home at the end of your contract. Expect to pay about $2,600 for new scooter or moped in lieu of a car. Get one equipped with an electronic anti-theft device. 

Bermuda strictly limits the size (length, width and horsepower); type (for example, pick ups and other vehicles are confined to local businesses); number (only one per household or family); and who can drive them (licensed local residents only, never visitors). A moped or scooter may be the most practical form of transport for singles or late teens. If married with a family, you'll need both a car for family use and a moped for commuting. Pick-ups, which in many countries are the most useful form of transport, are not allowed to be owned by individuals, only by locally registered and approved businesses. If single and sharing accommodation, be aware you won't be allowed to have an automobile if someone already has such a vehicle registered at that address.

Overseas travel to and from Bermuda by air

Cheap or discounted airfares between North America, Britain and Europe, at a cost to appeal to expatriate newcomers from these countries, are rare. For example, the cost of a round trip air ticket from Bermuda to London is nearly three times more than the cost of one from New York or Boston to London and return. Premium prices are charged by the airlines serving Bermuda to get you to far off destinations or your relatives here to visit you. No charter flights fly from Bermuda to North America or Europe - only to the Caribbean 1,000 miles to the south -  and no airlines have direct service between Bermuda and the Caribbean.

Payroll Tax

See http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=275&&PageID=231418&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true

In February 2011, the Payroll Tax Rates Amendment Act, as announced in the 2011-2012 Budget, reduced payroll tax from 16 percent to 14 percent. Premier Paula Cox said that the rollback would put $50 million back into the economy, but the act will benefit employers more than employees.

From February 2010 the rate of payroll tax rose two percentage points to 16 percent. Half the increase will be borne by employees, whose contribution will rise to 5.75 percent of their pay, from 4.75 percent, while employers will pay the other 10.25 percent. In March 2010 all Progressive Labour Party Members of Parliament approved this raise into law. It  more than doubled the salary cap from $350,000 to $750,000, over the objections of Opposition United Bermuda Party members who fear a further backlash in Bermuda's already very high international business costs.

Passports for newcomers and their visitors

These are internationally acceptable when valid and should never be substituted by any other lesser document. All expatriates should allow plenty of time - several months - for renewal of overseas passports from Bermuda. Children require them too.

Pensions

See under "National Pension Scheme" and "Social Security."

Personal partners who are not spouses

Note that in Bermuda an unmarried personal partner of a Bermudian or non-Bermudian is not a spouse and has no legal standing or spousal rights with that other person. Any non-Bermudian personal partner but not a spouse and all other non-Bermudian visitors including tourists are not permitted by Bermuda Immigration to stay in Bermuda beyond their specified vacation or holiday unless there are very special and compelling circumstances reported in advance to Bermuda Immigration. 

Pets and their importation

Bermuda does NOT have a quarantine period. You can personally import and export animals, usually from the USA but also from Canada and the UK, with sufficient notice (which can be as high as 6 months). A proviso is that they must be licensed and micro chipped and are free from any problems. For all personal importers of pets, there is a strict import and export procedure for their documentation and certification. In this context, pets include all dogs (including guide dogs for the blind, whether visiting by cruise ship or for the duration of an employment contract) and cats.

A formal application must be made in advance to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. See ApplicationForPermitToImportSmallAnimals.pdf.

This relates only to legally importing and exporting a cat or dog and licensing a dog. It does not confer permission to keep either. Permission is normally given when the animals concerned are micro chipped, are from FMD-free areas and can be disinfected and certified in advance by a kennel service approved  locally. Bermuda is one of 28 rabies-free places that have been added to the Pet Travel Scheme. For more information, visit the British/UK Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAFF). But it is the moral and possibly legal responsibility of any pet owner to go back home with any imported pets. They should never be left in Bermuda as stray orphans when you leave. The airlines serving Bermuda will give you current prices to import animals when you arrive and export animals when you leave. If you are not prepared to pay for their export too, don't import them, as Bermuda already has a problem with feral cats, wild dogs and stray chickens. 

Not all pets are suitable for Bermuda because of its humidity and dampness. Dogs are covered under the Dogs Act 2008 enacted in July 2008 which amended the Dogs Act 1978 amended September 2000.  Anyone wanting to own a dog must have their property vetted prior to being granted a licence. Whether or not you are allowed to keep a pet is at completely the discretion of landlords. There may be an added security deposit for pets. Unlawfully bred dogs can be seized. A potential breeder must apply for a Breeding License beforehand and show it to prospective buyers. Persons wishing to keep more than two dogs in any building or part of it must have a multiple Dog Permit.  Many landlords will NOT allow cats or dogs. Dog owners need yard space to exercise as dogs may not roam, they must be leashed - and always kept inside when postal employees deliver mail. Although there is a law that dogs be kept on a leash or in secure premises, it is not always obeyed. Penalties for non-compliance can be severe but not severe enough to deter some people with dogs to comply, to avoid injury to humans or cats.  Dogs are not permitted on any public beach from April 1 to October 31 of each year. 

Organizations for pet dogs are:

Organizations for cats are

Post Office Boxes

It is strongly recommended that new residents rent a post office box from their parish post office, when one is available. This is because delivery to home addresses is often non-existent or unreliable. Also, when they do deliver mail, postal workers do not do so on weekends. 

Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS)

Of potential interest to expatriate Britons. As yet it seems there are none in Bermuda. For the list to date see http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/pensionschemes/qrops.pdf 

Racial issues

Do not come to Bermuda to work or on holiday (vacation) if you are anti-black. Bermuda is 70% black and race  issues are taken seriously.

Repatriation of remains of a non-Bermudian to home country

Submitted in the event of the unexpected death in Bermuda of an expatriate who has no roots here. Before the remains can be transported home, the following specific items of paperwork are among those that will need to be made available.

Restaurants

Rust

Can be a major problem in the constant humidity of Bermuda.

Senior citizens

How they rate locally versus in USA, Canada, UK and Europe in terms of discounts, pensions and services. For example, in the USA, age 62 is the earliest, but it will be 67 for those born in 1960 or later. In Britain and Europe, benefits start at 60, not 65 for men. In Bermuda, it is 65.

Social security

In Bermuda, this means solely a senior citizens' pension from the Bermuda Government in direct proportion to the premiums paid in by an employee and employer, not the multitude of other provisions included in the Social Security provisions of the USA. In Bermuda, there is a compulsory contributory pensions plan administered by the Government for all employees of private sector employers, with employers and individual employees employed for more than four (4) hours a week each paying 50% of the premium. It pays benefits to qualifying retirees. The Contributory Pensions plan, its proper name, is exactly what it implies - a pension plan for people who contribute to it. As such, it is their entitlement, not a charity. Nor is it confined to only Bermudian employees. Non Bermudian employees are eligible and required to be covered as well and are fully entitled to whatever benefits they accrue under the plan's provisions. The Contributory Pensions plan maximum payout per month to fully eligible beneficiaries is at a far lower rate than in the USA or Canada even though the cost of living overall in Bermuda is over 300% higher.

In contrast, in the United Kingdom the Old Age Pensions Act was enacted on August 1, 1908.

Social Insurance Department, Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM 12. Phone 295-5151 extension 1129 or 1131. In Bermuda, the maximum Social Security benefit obtainable is $980 a month for those who qualify, about 22% of all local pensioners.  

Current deductions from wages or salaries apply under section 4 of the Contributory Pensions Act 1970

Effective August 1, 2012.  The new weekly rate is $64.14 - Employer portion $32.07 and Employee portion $32.07. Applicable local law was the Contributory Pensions (Amendment of Contributions and Benefits) Order 2011.

 There is a Contributory Pensions Appeal Tribunal. See Bermuda Government Boards

When private corporate pensions are offered, they are in addition to the Government administered Contributory Pensions plan shown above.

The table above compares badly to Social Security in the USA which averages $1,550 in USA for persons have not worked for 50 years and, for those with a more modern and sustained employment history can quite easily be US$1,844 a month, or $2,180 a month at age 67 or $2,697 a month if a pensioner is healthy enough to wait until age 70 before drawing benefits. See the USA's Social Security Administration. There is no standard rates file as pensions can vary appreciably. Over 60s men do not get a Social Security pension until they are 65, if they qualify. At Age Concern In the United Kingdom, some offices will supply immediately on request or within 24 hours by e-mail  a 5-page "Benefit rates for the Over 60s" guide showing a variety of rates for which individuals will be eligible depending on if and how they qualify - including men over 60. But this is not available in Bermuda.

There is no standard "Benefit rates for the Over 60s" guide as there is in the United Kingdom, Canada and USA. 

In Canada, each senior is paid an OAP/CCP by the Government. It offers overall what is probably the most humane and thoughtful system in the world. For those without any other source of income, Social Security monthly can be as high as Ca $2600. For those with a substantial income from a private or teacher's pension or other sources, the OAP/CCP can be as low as Ca $400. Canadians are so lucky with their Health plan; and in Ontario seniors get free prescription drugs for over 1500 prescribed things! Their GST tax and other taxes cover much of it. The plan gives peace of mind to Canadians.   

In comparison to social security benefits for its citizens who have paid taxes all their working life and beyond, Bermuda Government pensions for its employees or Members of Parliament are for far shorter periods of time, offer much bigger pensions and get regular cost of living increases. Seniors over the age of 65 and employed no longer have to pay Social Insurance contributions but employers must do so. Many pensioners exist solely on their Social Security because they do not qualify at all for any corporate pension, or their corporate pension benefits ceased when a spouse died. The cost in Bermuda for a private Senior Citizens home for the elderly is more than 7 times the average social security pension and can easily be as high as $95,000 a year.

Sports

According to the Bermuda Olympic Association, only persons who are Bermudians in their own right can represent Bermuda at the Olympics, Pan Am Games or Central American & Caribbean Games. But this qualification is unfair to persons not born in Bermuda, or born in Bermuda but not with a Bermudian parent, or a non-Bermudian spouse of a Bermudian. 

Spouses

Spouses (not personal partners who are not legally recognized as such and have no legal rights in Bermuda)  of incoming non-Bermudian working newcomers who are non-Bermudian will get a friendly and practical welcome from the International American Women's Club. Despite its American name, it is not solely for newly arrived Americans. It is as active on behalf of other incoming nationalities. It will offer you useful advice, suggestions and tips to make your island life more pleasant. For further information, call (441) 236 5465 or (441) 291 0761. Non-Bermudian spouses arriving with their also not-Bermudian husbands or wives must find their own form of employment (See Working in Bermuda for non-Bermudians). It is not the responsibility of the employer of the husband or wife to find employment for the non-working spouse. This has to be done individually. Those from overseas who arrive married should note that in the event their husband or wife also from overseas separates from or divorces them in Bermuda, one of them may have to leave Bermuda prematurely. If they have children while in Bermuda but later separate or divorce, the Bermudian spouse will normally get preference in child custody, under Bermuda law. A non-Bermudian married to a Bermudian will have to wait 10 years to apply for and meet certain conditions to obtain citizenship. In any other country, they can obtain citizenship rights within three years. 

Taxes, direct and indirect and deductions from salary or wage

Bermuda is often touted as a low tax jurisdiction by the global media, politicians, and both local and overseas tax regime revenue authorities. This image is misleading. Head hunters and recruiters often mislead potential new employees from overseas and say or imply that none of the following apply. The truth is there is a bewildering complexity of largely hidden, but every day present, cost to the residents of Bermuda in innumerable stamp duties, consumption taxes, Foreign Currency Exchange tariffs, fuel surcharges, real property and trust conveyancing taxes, estate duty fees and so on. With all these taxes assessed at point of importation, layered on to foreign exchange transactions, added to mark-ups on retail purchases and mandatory on conveyancing of real estate and contracts, all these and more so-called tax duties translate to a minimum of 25 to 35 percent average tax on every working (and non-working) adult in Bermuda. Flat tax assessments predominate these revenue raising programs which means that those in lower income brackets absorb a disproportionately higher ratio of tax to earnings. From the year 2010 there may well be even more or increased taxes on the horizon, from the effects on the Bermuda government of the economic depression of 2008 and 2009.  If so, they will hit struggling retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, downsized international businesses, construction companies, and landlords. Most likely candidates for higher taxes include foreign exchange, payroll, customs, stamp duty as well as implementing new taxes on dividends, rental income and other income sources, possibly even the introduction a new income tax regime. 

Tax Information Exchange Agreements

See section by this name in Economy. This has potential income-reporting to the tax authorities of their home countries implications for all non-Bermudians living and/or working in Bermuda.

Taxes payable overseas even if you live in Bermuda

If you are a US citizen or green card holder or resident living and working in Bermuda, you will have to complete regular US tax returns and may be liable to US taxes. If you are from elsewhere, check with your country of citizenship or residence, not only for tax implications if any but also, such as in the UK, re pension and national insurance. Be aware that the Bermuda Government has signed tax information exchange agreements with many countries which gives them the right to demand certain information from both the Bermuda Government and your Bermuda bank and/or depository.

Transferring money

Expatriates, unless they work for certain US companies, are normally paid their salaries in Bermuda Dollars.  If they wish to send money to friends of family in their home countries in a foreign currency they can do so by going to one of the local banks, paying the market price for foreign exchange conversion and either buying a draft or arranging to have the money wired. The Bermuda Government charges a 1% value of the amount being transferred fee for all personal and corporate foreign exchange transactions.

Warranties

On all Bermuda-bought products, they are much lower than in North America or Europe. In the USA, some warranties on vehicles now extend as long as 10 years. Most are for 3 years. But in Bermuda, most expire in 1 year.

Water sports

Welfare benefits

None in Bermuda for non-Bermudians. Those who are from the UK will not find any UK-like benefits in Bermuda for giving birth to and raising children, or for unemployment and seeking work, or disability.  

Women 

Expect to feel somewhat isolated initially.  It is estimated expatriate men outnumber expatriate women by 2:1. If you are an expatriate male or female know that marriage to a Bermudian does not bring you any citizenship or voting rights until you have been both married and living together as man and wife for at least 10 years and have satisfied all other conditions. Note that marriage to a Bermudian who is a homeowner does not give the non-Bermudian spouse, on divorce, any automatic rights or half-rights to any real estate because of unique-to-Bermuda real estate laws re ownership of property by Bermudians and their non-Bermudian spouses. If you are an expatriate male or female, know that Bermudian men and women don't believe in shared custody of children after separation or divorce and will invariably demand that their children live in Bermuda. Which means you'll need to fight this if you live outside Bermuda. Also know that if you divorce or separate from a Bermudian you could lose your Work Permit and residency at the request of the aggrieved Bermudian party. There are many Bermudians  who in the past have been instrumental in getting the Bermuda Work Permits of their separated or divorced spouses revoked. 

Single women who come to Bermuda to work should take due precautions. If you are female, expect lonely strangers to offer to buy you drinks.  It is very expensive to drink alcohol in Bermuda. Be extremely careful as drinks could be and often are spiked. Under no circumstances should any female accept a ride or lift from anyone she does not know. There have been some gruesome horror stories, such as the case of Rebecca Middleton (see under "Rebecca Middleton" in Legal).

Records - court cases and the lack of them, or their verdicts - indicate serious problems. Visitors and residents have been raped and murdered with no long-term repercussions to the guilty. When court cases are held, jurors who are mostly men find the accused not guilty. Single women, or those who go places alone in Bermuda, do so at their own risk. Sexual assault is the most difficult crime to prosecute in Bermuda. A man's past criminal record for this is not permitted under Bermuda law to be brought up.  A woman's defence can be turned into a character assassination of her. Bermuda shares with Britain the infamous developed world record of having less than 4% of rape allegations resulting in convictions. Unlike in the USA where this is routine, there are no specially trained rape prosecutors. (In the USA, they have improved rape convictions  to a rate now 75%). Nor is there any dedicated Rape and Abuse Support group. The British and Bermudian rate of convictions would not be tolerated in the USA.

Work Permit violations and penalties

In June 2013 Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy announced plans to strengthen the Department of Immigration's enforcement powers on work permit violations. The Chief Immigration Officer now has specific authority to impose civil administrated penalties. The objective is to introduce progressive disciplinary measures for employers who violate the Act. Two specific civil penalty regimes now apply. This includes the establishment of absolute offences which will be dealt with as ticketable offences and also non-ticketable offences wherein civil penalties will be pursued by the courts. Fines for less serious offences will be up to $5,000 for work permit violations. The courts however, have the authority to issue fines up to $25,000.

Working from home in Bermuda

NB: Non-Bermudians who work from home for Bermuda-based employers are required to have Work Permits, if they don't already have them for their employer at their place of work. 

The article below was written for the Royal Gazette on September 11, 2012 by Attorney Michael Hanson, an Associate and member of the Employment and Immigration team within the Litigation & Insolvency Group at Appleby (Bermuda) Limited. "In the USA, Canada, Europe, etc it has long been accepted and even approved by their tax authorities that working from home, using computers and the internet or in other ways digitally or otherwise, is not a privilege but a right.  In the United States alone, estimates are that roughly six million employees will work from home a majority of the time, and about 63 million employees work from home occasionally. But not in Bermuda. Here, it is regarded legally as a privilege, not a right. Thus employers must be aware of the issues they face whether they currently have home-working employees or are considering such an arrangement in the future. Unlike the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions, there is no specific legislation in Bermuda that encompasses flexible or home-working. Indeed, the term “home-worker” (or similar) is not defined in Bermuda's Employment Act 2000 (“the Act”). Because of this, home working is a privilege rather than a right in Bermuda. However, irrespective of where someone works, if a person is employed for more than 15 hours a week wholly or mainly in Bermuda for remuneration under a contract of employment, they are an “employee” for the purposes of the Act and fall under its remit (there are a few exceptions to this). As home-workers are protected by the same employment legislation, what does this mean practically for employers? Firstly, the contract for a home-worker should be drafted to reflect their place of work — that is, their home. Further, most employers will require the employee to attend at the office from time-to-time (for client meetings or disciplinary issues, etc) and this should be clearly included in the contract. Holiday entitlement should not be different to that of any office-based employee. Home-workers will be entitled to the full-time minimum of two weeks holiday (as stipulated by the Act) unless employers allow further time. The same applies for paid sickness absences and other benefits. Employers must also remember that a home-worker’s house is their castle. There is no implied legal right that an employer can enter the home of an employee without the employee’s consent. Therefore, the employer should reserve the right of entry in the contract of employment, for example, to enter the employee’s home in specific circumstances, such as installing computer equipment or to recover any confidential information. The implied duty that employees should not disclose confidential information or use any such information for any purpose other than the employer’s business interest applies to home-workers. However, in practice, confidentiality is much more difficult for an employer to police or monitor when the employee is not in the office. Employers should include an express confidentiality clause in the employee’s contract, making clear what information is confidential and how the employee should keep that information secure at their home. For example, the employer may want to consider passwords that would stop access to its data by the employee’s relatives or household members and provide items such as a locking cabinet or shredder to ensure that company documents are secured or discarded properly. An employer will be able to impose significant protection concerning all work an employee does in respect of or on behalf of their employer and access to that information should be agreed. However, an employee’s contract must be reasonable. For example, a clause providing that an employer can enter an employee’s house at any time, day or night, to check their home computer would not be a reasonable or a fair contract term. Elsewhere in the world, it is generally recognised that more women than men seek working-from-home arrangements, mainly as it is accepted that women often bear the majority of child care responsibilities. There are no statistics for this in respect of Bermuda but it is unlikely that Bermuda is any different. Employers must therefore be very wary of possible discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1981 (“the 1981 Act”) when considering an employee’s request to work from home. If a request to work from home is not considered seriously because it comes from a man, when the same request made by a woman would be properly considered by the same employer, then a claim of direct sex discrimination under the 1981 Act could apply. There is no specific legislation in Bermuda that requires employers to seriously consider any flexible working request. However, while there is no direct duty on an employer in this regard, given the above, it is advised that any such request be considered seriously in terms of whether it is a viable alternative to office working. But it should always be remembered that allowing employees to work from home requires a huge amount of trust, as they cannot be monitored to any great degree to ensure that they are doing the job that employers pay them to do. "

Workmen's Compensation

Expect to be insured locally for this as the responsibility of your employer.

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Last Updated: April 12, 2014.
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