Working in Uruguay



The Oriental Republic of Uruguay or simply known by many as Uruguay is a small country situated in south eastern part of South America. Though it has a massive population of a 3.4 million, Uruguay still displays some key factors that all developed nations have such as a relatively healthy economy and a strong services sector. 

Uruguay’s labour force participation rate has been consistent in the past four years at 65%. The number of people actively engaged in income-generating activities currently stand at 1,677,000. Despite the widespread slowdown in the region, Uruguay’ unemployment rate is at a record low of 6.1%. However, the low jobless rate poses risks to the booming economy as many workers jump from one company to the other. Employers are forced to pay higher wages and benefits to retain much-needed workers. The government, on the other hand, is encouraging Uruguayans abroad to return home and help fill in the labour gap. 

A Thriving Agriculture Sector 

Uruguay’s shining gem is its agriculture sector that represents about 20% of the nation’s total Gross Domestic Product. According to the official statistics released by the Uruguay Agriculture and Livestock Ministry, about 82.4% of the country’s land is occupied by meat and sheep farming as well as by cattle breeding that relates to several other farm activities such as dairy, forage and rotation with crops. Uruguay’s booming agriculture sector also generated all-time high total revenue of 9.2 billion USD in 2014 and made this country one of the top exporters of processed and unprocessed agricultural goods. 

Other Major Industries 

Most jobs in the country are concentrated in its five largest cities: the capital city of Montevideo, Salto, Paysandú, Las Piedras and Rivera. The biggest employers, excluding the public sector, are in the construction, mining and energy sectors. The industry sector presently needs thousands of workers to build pulp mills and new mines. The government foresees a huge demand for English-speaking workers as the country expands its export markets to Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. 

Tourism is also a key contributor to the Uruguayan economy with 60% of domestic spending expended in tourist activity. An estimated two million foreigners regularly travel to the Latin American nation, spending $800 million each year. The top destinations include the Atlantic Shore, Maldonado and Canelones and the capital Montevideo. 

Average Salary 

In January 2016, President Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay decreed the minimum wage to be 11,150 UYU (Uruguayan Peso) or approximately 354 USD per month. Though Uruguay’s minimum salary is lower compared to its neighbour country Argentina, it is still considered to be one of the highest monthly minimum salaries in South America. Expats who will work in Montevideo, the capital where most large business and multinational companies are located, can expect a higher salary especially if they have an impressive educational and professional background. 

Work Schedule 

The standard work week in Uruguay ranges from 44 to 48 hours depends on which sector the worker belongs. Generally speaking, an employee in this country must have a minimum of 24-hour rest period per week and must receive an overtime pay for any excess hour rendered for work. All workers are also entitled to a minimum of 20 days paid vacation annually while women who just gave birth are allowed to take at least six months of paid leave. 

Business Culture 

By nature, the Uruguayans have an inherent trust in other and a firm belief in social justice. They also put a significant emphasis on education which is why this country boasts one of the best-educated workforces in South America. When it comes to business culture, the locals have the tendency to start a meeting a little behind the schedule though it doesn’t mean the expats can also be late for an appointment. They also don’t pay too much attention to expertise or experience and let friendship or a stable relationship play a great role in business transactions. 

Many Uruguayans, particularly those in major cities such as Montevideo can speak English, but it is always best to arrange for an interpreter especially if it is the first meeting. The locals also dress conservatively, so it is better to avoid bright colours since it is rarely worn by them. Dark suits for men are while smart casual dresses are the trend in Uruguay when it comes to office attire.


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