Employment of nationals
As long as there are suitably qualified nationals of Barbados for any employment, an employer will not be permitted to employ a non-national to fill a vacancy. Non-nationals require work permits or work permit exemptions (if applicable). Prior to employing a non-national, the employer must advertise the position in the newspapers. In the event that there are no suitable responses to the advertisement, the employer may then apply to the Chief Immigration Officer for a work permit for a non-national.
There is a minimum wage for sugar workers pursuant to the Sugar Workers (Minimum Wage and Guaranteed Employment) Act, Chapter 359 of the laws of Barbados. There is also a minimum wage for domestic employees (i.e. a person employed for reward for the purpose of performing household duties in a private dwelling house).
The number of hours in any one (1) week (excluding meal intervals) during which a shop assistant (i.e. a person wholly or mainly employed in a shop in connection with serving customers, receipt of money or orders for goods, or the delivery of goods) may remain or may be employed in a shop shall not exceed forty (40) hours. No domestic employee shall be employed for more than forty-four (44) hours in any one week. Work hours are otherwise largely dictated by the contract of employment. In Barbados the custom is a forty hour work week, Monday to Friday. Unless overtime is a condition of employment, employees cannot be forced to work overtime.
Provided that the employer is not operating a shop, employers and employees may agree on the amount of payment for any overtime work performed.
Vacation and Sick Days
Employees are legally entitled to a holiday with pay of three weeks per year after one year of employment. In the fifth year of employment, the employee is entitled to four weeks holiday per year.
An employee who is ill is allowed up to two days sick leave without presentation of a medical practitioner’s certificate of incapacity. If the sick leave persists beyond the second day, the employee is required to provide a medical practitioner’s certificate.
The Safety and Health at Work Act, 2005 is aimed at securing the health, safety and welfare of employees at work, for protecting other persons against risks to health and safety in connection with the activities of persons at work, for controlling emissions into the environment and to consolidate the law relating to health, safety and welfare in the workplace.
Employment and Termination of Employment Hiring
There is no obligation to employ a minimum number of people. Subject to our comments above in relation to the employment of non-nationals in instances where there are nationals who are suitably qualified there is no obligation:
- to employ a minimum number of nationals and
- for nationals to hold certain positions in a company.
Termination or Dismissal
In addition to the common law principle that a contract for an indefinite period is terminable by reasonable notice there are various statutory provisions which provide for the notice of termination which must be given to certain employees and the payment of their severance payments, if applicable. Generally unless there is just cause for the termination of the employment, the employer is required to give notice of termination to the employee or payment in lieu of such notice.
In addition, the Employment Rights Act, 2012 now introduces fairness into termination. As stated above, an employer must now provide an employee with reasons for dismissal on request of the employee and in determining whether the dismissal of an employee is fair or unfair, it is for the employer to show the reason for the dismissal and that is for a reason within the scope of the Employment Rights Act, 2012.