Jurisdiction - Indonesia
Indonesia – The Effect Of Decree 40: Foreigners Are Banned From The HR Arena.

17 June, 2013



Foreign and foreign-owned enterprises represent some of the largest employers in Indonesia. Accordingly, some foreign companies expressed consternation when, on February 29, 2012, the country’s Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration issued Decree No. 40 of 2012 on Certain Positions that Are Restricted for Foreign Workers (the “Decree”). The Decree, among other things, lists 19 positions that cannot be held by non-Indonesian nationals, all related to the field of human resources.


Actually, the Decree should not have come as a surprise. Article 46(1) of Law No. 13 of 2003 (March 25, 2003) on Manpower, as amended by Constitutional Court Decision No. 012/PUU-I/2003 of October 28, 2004 (the “Manpower Law”), already stipulated a prohibition on foreign workers holding a position “managing personnel and/or certain positions.” Article 46(2) of the Manpower Law goes on to provide that those positions are to be determined by and specified in a Ministerial Decision or Decree.


The affected positions are set out below:



Name of Position




Personnel Director

Direktur Personalia


Industrial Relations Manager

Manajer Hubungan Industrial


Human Resources Manager

Manajer Personalia


Personnel Development Supervisor

Supervisor Pengembangan Personalia


Personnel Recruitment Supervisor

Supervisor Perekrutan Personalia


Personnel Placement Supervisor

Supervisor Penempatan Personalia


Employee Career Development Supervisor

Supervisor Pembinaan Karir Pegawai


Personnel Declare Administrator

Penata Usaha Personalia


Chief Executive Office [sic]

Kepala Eksekutif Kantor


Personnel and Career Specialist

Ahli Pengembangan Personalia dan Karir


Personnel Specialist

Spesialis Personalia


Career Advisor

Penasehat Karir


Job Advisor

Penasehat Tenaga Kerja


Job Advisor and Counseling

Pembimbing dan Konseling Jabatan


Employee Mediator

Perantara Tenaga Kerja


Job Training Administrator

Pengadministrasian Pelatihan Pegawai


Job Interviewer

Pewawancara Pegawai


Job Analyst

Analis Jabatan


Occupational Safety Specialist

Penyelenggara Keselamatan Kerja Pegawai


In issuing the Decree the Ministry emphasized that it was looking to develop local Indonesian expertise in the human development field. It also noted that the Decree was not retroactive in application and accordingly would not, in its view, have a big impact. It also cited the familiarity and sensitivity of Indonesian nationals in dealing with local employees in a manner consistent with local cultural norms. It went on to state that, in fact, many foreign firms already employed Indonesians in these positions for exactly the reasons cited by the Ministry.


Critics immediately raised a number of concerns, perhaps the most urgent being the inclusion of the term “kepala eksekutif kantor,” a common translation of the term “Chief Executive Officer,” on the prohibited list. The Ministry was quick to alleviate this concern by stating that for the purposes of the Decree the term “kepala eksekutif kantor” would be interpreted as meaning “Head of Office” or “Office Manager,” consistent with the Ministry’s intention to limit its application to persons dealing directly with front-line workers.


Note that under the Indonesian Company Law the chief officer of a company is its President Director and the term Chief Executive Office has no legal meaning. The Ministry clarified that this position is still open to foreigners and that the President Director, together with the Board of Directors and other senior officers, may still direct overall employment strategy for a company.


Critics have also argued that the changes would impact direct foreign investment and stifle the inflow of good foreign workers. As of 15 months from the date of the Decree there has been no direct evidence put forward to substantiate these concerns in booming Indonesia. Rather, the evidence appears to be, as some industry figures have pointed out, that the Decree simply served to codify a practice of using Indonesians in these human resources positions as a matter of practice.




For further information, please contact:

Douglas SmithSoewito Suhardiman Eddymurthy Kardono


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