14 August 2013: The Payroll System in Ethiopia

24 July 2013: Employment in France
24th July 2013
28 August 2013: HR Success in Vietnam
28th August 2013

Compandben’s International HR Services

Ethiopia Payroll Partners –


Ethiopia is one of 160 countries within Compandben’s network of InteEthiopia Flagrnational Partners who are payroll providers. The following information about Ethiopia and its payroll system has been provided by one of our Partners there.



Ethiopia is a stable and fast growing country. It has about 91 million inhabitants and is just under 450,000 square miles – a little larger than Egypt and 5 times the size of UK.

Every country thinks that it has a highly complex payroll “system”. Ethiopia is, let us say, not less complex than the average.

Payroll management in Ethiopia is normally an integral part of an accounting or finance department of any organization. It is usually part of a division, section or unit of the finance function of the organization.

Outsourcing the task of payroll administration to a specialist firm is still unusual in Ethiopia but the practice is increasing. There are a lot of NGO’s (Non Governmental Organizations usually attached to the United Nations) in Ethiopia and these organizations have a tradition of outsourcing their non core activities to minimize on headcount.

Payroll preparation is mainly governed by the income tax law of Ethiopia which is composed of a progressive taxation system which is applied also to all Ethiopia’s regional governments. As well as tax calculations there are also:
1. Provident fund schemes,
2. Private pension schemes,
3. Government backed pension plans
4. Other statutory deductions such as labor union, Court order, etc.

Some of the sections of the Ethiopian tax laws are very “general” and merely stipulate that detailed procedures should be issued by the relevant government agencies by way of directives. These directives sometimes don’t exist and can sometimes be in conflict with each other.

Taxes on monthly salaries are calculated during the monthly payroll preparation and have to be paid to tax authorities within one month after having been deducted from the employee. The same applies also for the various provident funds and pension schemes. There are stiff penalties for late submission of tax returns and all other statutory deductions.

The directives for fringe benefits and other income from employment are sometimes difficult to apply due to inefficient distribution of directives to all stakeholders.

Here in Ethiopia, all income from employment like various allowances like fuel, representation, cash indemnities etc are taxable. It is not one of those countries where one can mysteriously reduce taxable income by calling it “housing allowance” or “transport allowance”!

The tax rates for payout for accrued, unutilized annual leave during termination processing are heavy: they are pro-rated over the period of months the income applies to and are subject to the maximum tax rate.

The tax rate for severance pay, however, is much lighter as it is taxed at a monthly salary rate to support the concept that the employee may not have financial difficulties whilst searching for his next employment. Employment contracts whether permanent or temporary are always copied to the private organization employees’ pension offices.

The rates applied for provident fund & pension schemes sometimes confuse accountants and cause inaccuracies as the rates for provident fund varies from company to company.

Payments for outstanding performance or the award of cash prizes at times like marriage are not tax effective. They are taxed at the same rate as the normal monthly salaries.
Most allowances like fuel, representation & house allowances are taxed fully as long as the whole remuneration package is above a certain level.

The payment of accrued leave is complicated. Accrued annual leave paid on termination of contract should be prorated over several months and should reflect that actual income received and the tax rates applicable at time of earnings. It is therefore strongly recommended to get employees to take their vacation – much simpler all round!

It is thus tedious & time consuming to compile earnings history if it is not a stored data on currently used software.
One of the challenges is the fact that monthly information comes from a lot of different sources, some of which are communicated manually. This makes for difficulties for the payroll/accounting service, especially when a the preparation work changes hands within the payroll/accounting team.

Obtaining substantial data from payroll is also made complex and difficult as salary increments & bonus are usually made retroactively. Retroactive payments of increments & emulation payments do entail commensurate adjustment payments to statutory deductions.

Lack of clarity or absence of clear laws on taxation of variety of allowances paid to employees or Board Directors of private concerns are some of the issues that make payroll preparation more complex and result in a misunderstanding between the tax payer & the authorities.

Payroll Team in Ethiopia

Payroll Team in Ethiopia


Public Holidays in Ethiopia

Ethiopian New Year
Finding of the True Cross
Eid Al-Fitr /Ramadan /
Eid Al-Adha (Arafa)
Birth Day of Prophet Mohammed
Patriot’s Day
Victory of Adwa Comm.
National day
May day

Notice periods

30 days advance notice of dismissal is required for employer by Labor Standard Act. However, advance notice is not required for employee. If there is a dispute and the employee claims that the termination is unreasonable, ex gratia payments of 2-4 months salary are found.

Hours of Work

The working hours per week are minimum 40 and maximum 44. Some public enterprises and all private firms works Saturday’s for 4 hours that produces the 44 hours.
After 44 hours per week, employees are entitled to be paid overtime.
Normal hours of work are 0800 to 1700 with on 5 days per week.


Basic is 14 days per year . Multinational companies often give up to 25 working days.
Special leave is often granted for:
Marriage -5 days
Birth of Child (maternity leave) 90 days
Death of near relative 3 days
Special sick leave (if necessary) 5 days/year

Contact Compandben or visit Compandben Main Website – Payroll Services – Ethiopia for more information.

John Tinsley


  1. Mohamed says:

    How does Ethiopian revenue and custom authorities considered tax deduction from employees allowance like Hardship allowances ? Is it possible to deduct tax from hardship allowances from Ethiopian tax law context?

  2. John Tinsley says:

    With regard to hardship allowances,it must not be more than 30% of the person’s gross salary.In addition,the very important thing is the Revenue Authority specifically mentioned the places which enables the person to be eligible to hardship allowances. These places are those where the temperature is above 40 degree centigrade. If the place is not mentioned in the list,the hardship allowance will be taxable. if the place is in the list,it is tax free.but not more than 30% of the gross salary.

  3. samuel says:


    [urgent] your kind help how to calculate bonus in Ethiopia pleas?

    1. if the bonus given at half of the year
    2. if the bonus given at yearly.

  4. ephrem says:

    Dear all,

    Currently the Ethiopian government made a new proclamation and regulation on income tax please contact me if you are ready to work with me in any areas



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