Responsible Employer

Children and work Conventions

A child is a person under the age of 18. Not all work performed by children is child labour. Millions of young people above the relevant minimum age undertake work, paid or unpaid, that is lawful, appropriate for their age and maturity and part of their socialization and school to work transition. By working, these young people learn to take responsibility, gain skills, add to their family’s or their own income and wellbeing, and contribute to their country’s economy.

Child labour includes all unacceptable forms of work performed by children. It is work that exposes children to harm or abuse because:

  1. It is likely to impact the child’s education and full development (due to the child’s age).
  2. It jeopardizes the physical, mental or moral wellbeing of a child (due to the nature of the work).

What kind of work can children do and in what conditions?

The following terms are important in understanding when child work becomes child labour:

Light work: This is work that children can do as long as it does not threaten their health and safety, or hinder their education (generally, non- hazardous work for fewer than 14 hours per week). It should only be performed by children aged 14 or over when permitted by local law.

Basic minimum age: The minimum age for work should not be below 14

Hazardous work: One of the worst forms of child labour, this is work that is fundamentally dangerous, such as working with pesticides or underground, or carried out under conditions that are particularly risky for children, such as work for excessively long hours or in high temperatures. It should not be performed by people under 18.

Other worst forms of child labour: These include slavery, trafficking and other forms of forced labour, including forced recruitment for use in armed conflict, the use of children in prostitution and pornography, and in illicit activities such as organized begging or the trafficking or sale of narcotics. Children should never be involved in such activities.

Children in Vanuatu generally begin to work at a very young age, mainly due to limited access to education. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has helped set international law, which most countries around the world have signed on and endorsed.  In 2019, Vanuatu attained to ILO minimum age convention (C. 138) setting the minimum age for work at 14 and bringing it into compliance with international standards. The convention came into force in 2020.

Although the Vanuatu government has established laws and regulations related to child labour, gaps exist in the legal framework to protect children from the worst forms of child labour, including hazardous work.

The law prohibits children younger than 12 from working outside family-owned agricultural production, where many children assisted their parents.  Children age 12 through 14 may perform light domestic or agricultural work if a family member works alongside the child, and agricultural work if the community does it collectively.

Children younger than 18 generally may not work on ships; however, with the permission of a labour officer, a child age 15 may work on a ship. Although parliament established a minimum age of 15 for hazardous work, the law does not comply with international standards, because it does not prohibit children between 16 and 17 from engaging in hazardous work, such as industrial labour and work on ships.

How can your business promote elimination of Child labour through responsible business conduct?

 As a starting point, all businesses, of whatever size, need to ensure that children are not working in any levels of their business. The ILO has produced practical guidance for employers that explains how to identify child labour and prevent it in the employers’ own business. This Guidance Tool focuses on the three “H’s”:

  1. Hiring: end the practice of hiring children;
  2. Hazards: eliminate hazardous child labour;
  3. Hours: reduce the working hours of any children above the minimum age to ensure that they do not work more than the number of hours allowed under national law for light work and regular work.

Every company should make a public commitment to respect internationally recognized Human rights, which include the right to be free from child labour. However, not all companies are expected to have a stand-alone policy on child labour. Regardless of what form it takes, the commitment should be encouraged throughout the organization, which means committing to the respect for human rights across the organization and including this commitment into the business values and culture.

Creating a COVID-19 safe business environment

Key COVID-19 safety measures for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME’s)
  • Ensuring you, your family and all your staff are vaccinated.
  • Conduct the Safe Business Operations COVID-19 Training by Contacting the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry on or call 27543.

After the training, you can complete the self-verification process. To gain Safe Business Operations accreditation, managers and staff should attend training on Safe Business Operations, implement the training in the workplace, have ready your Workplace Health & Safety Plan and then complete the self-verification process.

  • Familiarize yourself and all employees with keys things to know about COVID-19 and what to do to minimize risk.

As a business owner, where can I access information to prevent and reduce COVID-19 transmission and maintain healthy business operations and work environments?

The Ministry of Health along with non-Government Departments have compiled a set of resources to assist businesses in being as prepared as possible for COVID-19. These resources include guidance for businesses to minimize health risk to employees and plans that can be implemented to manage situations like visitors and staff coming from or returning from overseas, leave of absence procedures, and staff who may be quarantined or infected by the virus. Please visit the Ministry of Health COVID-19 website for national updates:

Resources to help Businesses and Employers prepare for COVID-19

The Vanuatu Business Resilience Council and Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry have prepared resources and updates on the preparedness and recovery activities underway to support the private sector with regards to the COVID-19 virus and its effects on businesses here in Vanuatu. There are several links are resources to help plan, prepare and respond to COVID-19. For more information, please visit:

The Vanuatu Department of Tourism and the Ministry of Health have also collaborated to deliver support from medical professionals to Vanuatu's tourism sector during COVID-19. Please follow this link to access resources covering hygiene, health and safety, and safe business operation:

The main message is for every business to familiarise themselves and all employees with COVID-19, identify their areas of risk in their business, be prepared and have an effective plan in place (Example: proper cleaning products, proper cleaning tools, implement staff training on cleaning practices, have masks purchased and safely stored, have water station set up, contact tracing form record, signs, PPE, checklists and internal audits). All these must be implemented as soon as possible, and businesses shouldn’t wait for a COVID-19 case to arrive or for a lockdown to begin planning and preparing.

What should I do if one of my staff are showing COVID-19 symptoms?

If one of your staff are showing COVID-19 symptoms, you must follow the below steps:

  1. Isolate the staff member, in a separate room if possible. Do not allow any further contact with this person.
  2. Ring 119 and follow their instructions. If necessary, your appointed Business Preparedness Officer may need to take the staff member to the nearest Health Clinic. They must call the Health Clinic in advance and advise them of arrival.
  3. Have contact tracing form ready.
  4. If any known persons have been in contact with that staff member, also isolate them.

Lockdowns due to COVID-19

Lockdowns tend to happen rapidly and without much warning. Therefore, being prepared, having a plan in place and conducting training with your staff are the best practise. Familiarise yourself with the alert levels and keep checking the FB Health Promotions page and like it for updates, and visiting

What should I do with staff and business (stock, customers, property, etc) when a lockdown is eminent?

The rules during lockdowns vary for different businesses and across the different levels.

For example, during a Level 2 lockdown, non-essential businesses will most likely close, such as cafes, takeaways, schools and churches, while during level 3 lockdown, all businesses will close except for essential services (example: police department, fire department).

However, if a lockdown is eminent some steps you can implement are as follows:

Staff: Speak to your staff and ensure everyone is aware of the impending lockdown and what it may mean for the business and their families. Advise staff that during a lockdown, there may be no/limited access to food, banks and pharmacies, so it is important to prepare in advance and have a stock of food (dry goods as they keep longer), cash and essential medicine. Ensure you have up to date contact details for staff so you can keep in touch during the lockdown if necessary.

Customers: Inform customers of potential closure and/or new rules to follow. Inform customers how they can reach you (via Facebook page, phone) and advise how you will update them on new operating hours (if any), new service or product delivery and payment methods.

Stock: If the business must close indefinitely, throw out any perishable items. Store any canned or long-life goods in a safe, dry place. Ensure all assets, (furniture, appliances, décor) are stored in a dry, covered area and away from weather. Tie down any items that could potentially fly away outside.

Property: Secure your property. Turn off all electrical equipment, safely store any valuable items or important documents; take home with you if necessary. Ensure premises are left in clean and safe condition Lock up property.

What should I do when a lockdown is declared?
  • Listen to advice provided by Vanuatu Government and NDMO.
  • Keep up to date by checking the following site:
  • Follow the COVID-19 business preparedness plans you have in place.
  • Communicate with staff and other stakeholders.
  • Ask questions if you are unsure.

Should I still pay staff during a lockdown

You can pay staff if they have any Annual Leave owing. Otherwise, there is no obligation to pay staff during a lockdown.

What can I do as an owner during a lockdown?

Make sure you have some savings. Business income may slow down or dry up for a period of time, but you may still have staff to pay, supplies to buy, bills to pay. Reconsider non-essential expenditure (example: If you have any business improvement projects coming up, put them off until your business is back to normal). Banks/bank branches may close therefore having cash on hand will assist in times you cannot access your savings the usual way.

Depending on the level during lockdown, some small businesses can still operate or adapt. Example: a kava bar may be able to do takeaway/ or home delivery. Keep your staff and customers updated with any service or product delivery updates and your contact details. Plan how to get stock if needed (example: if you are a food provider and offering home deliveries, you will need to purchase stock to make the food).

What kind of assistance should I look for to compensate my losses?

The Government is trying to inject money back into the local economy by providing businesses with financial support via The Second Policy Stimulus.

There are two ways they are doing this:

  • The Small Business Grant (SBG) will support monthly cash flow until the end of 2021 for all businesses with an annual turnover of less than VT 4 million.
  • The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) will support businesses that are VAT-registered and distressed with their staffing costs from May 2021 to December 2021 inclusive.

Who can get help?

  • The Small Business Grant (SBG) is available for any business license holder who has an annual turnover of less than VT 4 million.
  • The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) is for businesses with valid business licenses who can show that they have suffered a drop of income of 30% or more since COVID-19 closed our borders.

How do I apply?

  • To apply for the Small Business Grant (SBG) please visit the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). Read below what you need to bring with you. If you would like to see the form.
  • To apply for the Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) please visit the VCCI. Read below what you need to bring with you. If you would like to see the form.

The forms required to apply for the SBG and the WSS can be found by following this link:

Small Business Grant (SBG)

Applicable for business license holders, liquor license holders and fishing license holders

As a small business owner how much will I get?

You will receive VT 15,000 per month for 8 months (May through to December 2021). That is a total of VT 120,000.

How do I apply for this? What documents do I fill in and where do I get them from?

  • You need to have a valid business license, liquor license or fishing license from 2020 or 2021 (issued before April 2021) and be the owner of the business.
  • You will need to be able to show that you have made less than 4 million turnover in the previous year. This will be indicated in the amount you paid for your business license printed on your certificate.
  • If you have a license issued by a provincial government that does not include details of turnover for the previous year this will be accepted.
  • You will need an active bank account and be able to provide your bank account details
  • If your bank account name does not match your business license name you will need a letter from your bank confirming you are the bank account holder.
  • There will be a standardized Excel spreadsheet which you will be required to complete. This is available on the Finance website –
  • If you would like assistance the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry can help you. You can visit one of their officers at VCCI HQ in Port Vila, or when the team visits your provincial centre (updates on where and when they will be advertised on the following website

How quickly can I get the money?

  • MOFT will process payments as quickly as possible, backdated for May 2021 onwards
  • Payments will be made monthly.
  • You can email you have applied and want to find out the status of your application.


Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS)
  1. Employers

As an employer wanting support for staff costs how much will I get?

  • Employers will be reimbursed up to VT 15,000 per month per employee for any employee earning VT 30,000 and above. If the employee earned less than VT 30,000, 50% of their monthly salary will be reimbursed.
  • VT 15,000 will be the maximum monthly payment (for example for an employee with a salary of VT 45,000 you will receive VT 15,000).
  • These employee payments will be available for 8 months, to reimburse employee costs from May to end December 2021.
  • Once you have applied and been approved the monthly payments will be automatic and no need to re-apply or provide VNPF receipts. MoF will be checking with VNPF directly on your payments.

How do I apply for this? what documents do I fill in and where do I get them from?

  • You need to have a valid business license for 2021 and be the employer, and you will need to also provide your VNPF Employer Certificate.
  • You will need to be able to show that you have suffered a reduction in turnover of greater than 30%, when comparing VAT returns from December 2019 and 2020, or 4thquarter 2019 and 2020)
  • There will be a standardized Excel spreadsheet which employers will be required to complete. This is available on the Finance website –
  • If you would like assistance the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry can help you. You can visit one of their officers at VCCI HQ in Port Vila, or when the team visits your provincial centre (updates on where and when they will be advertised on the following website

How quickly can I get the money?

  • MOFT will process payments as quickly as possible, backdated for May 2021 onwards.
  • Payments will be based on payroll from the previous month. Employers need to pay the employee first, and be reimbursed the following month after VNPF checks.

As an employer can I re-employ staff and get access to the scheme? Yes, you can.

Do I need to be a business to access this money for employees? What about house girls and gardeners for example? This is for employers with a business license only.

What about casual staff? As long as you have a business license and the staff member is on your VNPF payment schedule you can claim for her/him.

  1. Employees

As an employee how much will I get?

  • This reimbursement is not a top up to your regular pay. It is a contribution from the Government to assist your employers keep you in employment, after they have paid you for your month of work
  • Employers will be reimbursed up to 15,000vt per month per employee for any employee earning 30,000vt and above. If you the employee earned less than 30,000vt, 50% of your monthly salary will be reimbursed (for example if you earned 20,000vt last month your employer will receive 10,000vt towards your previous months’ salary)
  • 15,000vt will be the maximum monthly payment to your employer (for example you are an employee with a salary of 45,000vt you employer will receive 15,000vt)

Business Continuity Plan

What is Business Continuity Planning?

Running a small or medium-sized business keeps you busy. Planning for a disruption, whether a major cyclone or a minor power cut, is something we all know we need to do, but may struggle to find the time to complete. This workshop will help you identify the actions required to help keep your businesses from failing when something unfortunate occurs.

The Vanuatu Business Resilience Council has designed trainings to help businesses learn about the basics of continuity planning, and provide easy to use tools to get started on a customized plan that meets your needs. These resources draw on lessons from experiences across the Pacific.

To download the toolkits in Bislama please click here:

  1. Rere Long Bisnis Plan Kaed
  2. Rere Long Bisnis Plan templet 

To download the toolkits in English please click here:

  1. BCP Planning Guidebook
  2. BCP Business Plan template 

If you are interested in attending a workshop on BCP please contact VCCI Reception at or call the VCCI office on 27543.