Business Barbados

This section outlines rights of employees and the principal legislation governing these rights.

Employment Rights Act 2012 (ERA)

Purpose: the ERA 2012 makes provision for the rights of employed persons and related matters. It includes the following rights:

Key Features:

1. A right to a statement of written particulars which is to be provided at the commencement of a contract with an employee. The statement must include:

  • Employee name.
  • Employer name and address.
  • Date the employment commences/commenced.
  • Date of continuous employment.
  • Title of the job.
  • Description of the work for which he/she is employed.
  • Scale or rate of wages and the method of calculating wages.
  • Intervals at which wages are paid.
  • Normal working hours.
  • Probation period, if applicable.
  • Length of notice which the employee is obliged to give and entitled to receive in respect of termination of his contract of employment.
  • Period for which employment is expected to continue where the employment is not intended to be permanent or the date the employment is to end where it is for a fixed period.
  • Place of work. Where an employee is required or permitted to work at various places, an indication of that and the address.
  • Any collective agreements which directly affect the terms and conditions of the employment including where the employer is not a party, the persons by whom the collective agreements were made.
  • Any termsrelating to the following:
    • Entitlement to holidays and holiday pay.
    • Incapacity owing to sickness or injury including any health scheme.
    • Pension and pension schemes.
  • A statement or note specifying disciplinary rules and a description of where an employee can apply should he/she be dissatisfied with any disciplinary decision.
  • The person to whom he/she can apply for the purpose of seeking redress on any grievance relating to employment.

2. A right to an itemised pay statement

  • Employersare required toprovide anitemised pay statement to all employees at or before the time payment of wages/salaryis made. This statement should include the following particulars:
    • Gross amount of wages;
    • Amounts of any variable or fixed deductions from that gross amount, and the purpose for which those deductions are made;
    • Net amount of wages payable; and
    • Date of the pay period.

3. Rights relating to lay-off and short time:

An employer is required by law to consult with all employees or their representative, who will be affected by any lay-off or short time. These consultations must commence no later than six (6) weeks before any of the affected employees are laid off or placed on short-time and must be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

The consultations should consist of:

  • The proposed method of selecting the employees who are to be laid off or placed on short-time;
  • The proposed method of carrying out the lay-off or short-time action, including the period over which the lay off or short-time action is to take place; and
  • Any measures that the employer might be able to take to find alternative employment for those affected employees and to mitigate against the adverse effects of being laid off or placed on short-time.

4. The right not to be unfairly dismissed

An employee has the right not to be unfairly dismissed and this right comes into effect after one (1) year of continuous employment. Dismissals for the following reasons are considered unfair:

  • Dismissal of an employee who was absent from work for a period of not more than one (1) year, although this time was certified by a medical practitioner as a result of an occupational disease or a work related accident;
  • Dismissal of an employee who was on certified leave from work for not more than twelve (12) consecutive months or periods totaling twelve (12) months in any one period of twenty-four (24) consecutive months;
  • Dismissal of an employee who has or is believed to have the HIV virus or AIDS or any other life threatening illness;
  • Dismissal as a result of an employee seeking office or acting as a workers’ representative;
  • Dismissal because an employee was proposed to become an officer, a shop steward or a safety and health representative or a delegate member of a trade union;
  • Dismissal because an employee refused to carry out an unlawful instruction given by the employer;
  • Dismissal because an employee participated in trade union activities outside of working hours or with the consent of the employer during working hours;
  • Dismissal because an employee removed himself from a work situation because he reasonably believed that it posed a serious danger to his life or health.
  • Dismissal because an employee is or was a disabled person, whether or not the disability resulted from an occupational disease or a work related accident, and the employer could have reasonably been expected to offer the employee alternative employment;
  • Dismissal because an employee was absent from work as a result of performing a national duty;
  • Dismissal because an employee is pregnant or a reason related to her pregnancy;
  • Dismissal based on race, colour, gender, age, marital status, religion, political opinion or affiliation, national extraction, social origin or indigenous origin of an employee;
  • Dismissal because of a responsibility of an employee for the care and welfare of a child or a dependent family member with a disability under the immediate care of the employee, being a responsibility associated with an emergency affecting the child or dependant family member with a disability.

5. The right to a Certificate of Employment Record

Where a contract of employment has ended, an employee has the right to receive a Certificate of Employment Record within fourteen (14) days. This record covers the following areas:

  • Name and address of employer;
  • Nature of the business of the employer;
  • The employee’s period of continuous employment with the employer;
  • The capacity in which the employee was employed immediately prior to end of employment.

6. The right to a minimum period of notice

The ERA stipulates the minimum period of notice to be given by an employer to terminate a contract of employment. This notice varies according to the pay cycle and the employee’s length of service. If a contract of employment contains a provision for a shorter period of notice the notice contained in this Act will take precedence.

Notice required for an hourly, daily or weekly paid employee who has one (1) year continuous employment is:

Notice PeriodLength of Continuous Service
One (1) weekLess than two (2) years.
Two (2) weeksTwo (2) years or more but less than five (5) years.
Four (4) weeksFive (5) years or more but less than ten (10) years.
Six (6) weeksTen (10) years or more but less than fifteen (15) years.
Ten (10) weeksFifteen (15) year or more

Notice required for a fortnightly paid employee who has one (1) year continuous employment is:

Notice PeriodLength of Continuous Service
Two (2) weeksLess than five (5) years.
Four (4) weeksFive (5) years or more but less than ten (10) years.
Six (6) weeksTen (10) years or more but less than fifteen (15) years.
Ten (10) weeksFifteen (15) year or more

Notice required for a monthly paid employee who has one (1) year continuous employment is:

Notice PeriodLength of Continuous Service
One (1) monthLess than ten (10) years.
One and a half (1.5) monthsTen (10) years or more but less than fifteen (15) years.
Two and a half (2.5) monthsFifteen (15) years or more.

Holidays With Pay Act (Cap. 348)

Purpose: To provide for holiday with pay for employees.

Key Features:

  • An employee who has completed one (1) year of employment is entitled to three (3) weeks’ holiday for each year up to the fourth year.
  • On completion of the fifth year of service the employee is entitled to four (4) weeks’ holiday.
  • To qualify for annual leave, monthly, fortnightly and weekly paid employees must work for 208 days to be eligible for the full three (3) weeks. Hourly, daily or other paid persons must work for 150 days to be eligible for the three (3) weeks’ leave.
  • Holiday is to be given in one period, or if the employer and employee agree, in two separate periods.
  • An employer may postpone an employee’s holiday for up to six (6) months once the employee becomes entitled. Further postponement can only be facilitated by the Chief Labour Officer.
  • An employer has the right to roster holidays but must give no less than fourteen (14) days notice of such holiday;
  • Where a public holiday falls within an employee’s holiday, the holiday is to be increased by one (1) day in respect of each public holiday.
  • Employees who have worked for less than one year but more than three months are entitled to a prorated calculation of holiday pay on termination of employment.
  • Notice of termination of employment given to employee immediately prior to or during holiday shall be void and of no effect. 

Employment of Women (Maternity Leave) Act (Cap. 345A)

Purpose: To provide for the grant of maternity leave and for the protection of the employment of those employees during such leave.

Key Features:

  • An employee is required to provide a certificate from a medical practitioner advising the expected date of confinement; or a certificate issued by a medical practitioner or a midwife advising the actual date of confinement.
  • To qualify for a grant of maternity leave an employee must be employed for at least twelve (12) months.
  • Maternity leave is granted for a period of not less than twelve (12) weeks. It may be granted as a period not exceeding six (6) weeks prior to the expected date of confinement and not less than six (6) weeks after the date of confinement.
  • A medical practitioner may recommend up to six (6) weeks additional leave for illness arising out of such confinement.
  • The right not to be dismissed or to be given notice of dismissal between the date of delivery given on the medical certificate and the expiration of maternity leave or additional maternity leave granted.
  • The right not to be given notice of dismissal which expires during maternity leave or additional maternity leave or to be dismissed during such leave.
  • The right not to be dismissed or required to resign because of pregnancy.
  • The right not to be required to resign during maternity leave or additional maternity leave.
  • The right on resumption of work following maternity leave, to seniority rights and reinstatement in the former work or equivalent work.

Shops Act (Cap. 356A)

Purpose: To make new provisions relating to shops.

A shop is defined as any premises in which a person conducts, manages or carries on a business selling commodities; this includes any premises used for taking orders, storage, dispatch or delivery of goods.

A Shop Assistant is defined as any person, except a member of the occupier’s family, employed in a shop in connection with the serving of customers, the receipt of money or orders for goods, or the delivery or dispatch of goods.

Key Features:

  • Regular hours of work are forty (40) hours in a five (5) day work week or eight (8) hours in any one (1) day.
  • A Shop Assistant is entitled to one (1) hour lunch after four and a half (4.5) consecutive hours of work.
  • Overtime pay is paid at double time rate for work on public holidays.
  • Overtime for other days are paid at a rate of one and a half (1½) times the employee’s ordinary rate.
  • Shop Assistants are allowed at least a two (2) day rest period per week.
  • Seating must be provided for Shop Assistants (in each room at least one seat for every three (3) Shop Assistants).
  • A Shop Assistant is not obligated to work on the day of religious worship.
  • Overtime is voluntary.
  • Rest room facilities are to be provided where five (5) or more Shop Assistants are employed.
  • Provisionsshould be made for:
    • Adequate facilities for washing and drying of hands;
    • Sufficient ventilation;
    • Suitable privacy accommodation;
    • Fresh drinking water;
    • First aid kit;
    • Safe means of access to every place where Shop Assistants work;
    • Proper equipment for fire-fighting – in good serviced condition;
    • Exit doors to open outwards;
    • Audible warning in case of fire.

Minimum Wage

Barbados does not have legislated minimum wages, except for Shop Assistants, which is set at BDS $6.25 per hour. A Shop Assistant is defined as any person, except a member of the occupiers family, wholly or mainly employed in a shop in connection with the serving of customers, the receipt of money or orders for goods, or the delivery or dispatch of goods.

Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (Cap. 346)

Purpose: To make new provisions relating to the employment of persons generally including young persons and children.

Key Features:

  • “Child” means a person who has not attained the age of 16 years.
  • “Young person” means a person who has attained the age of 16 years but less than 18 years of age.
  • An “Industrial Undertaking” is defined as any mine, quarry and other work respecting the extraction of minerals from the earth; any undertaking in which articles are manufactured, altered, cleaned, repaired, ornamented, finished, adapted for sale, broken up or demolished, or in which minerals are transformed, including an undertaking engaged in ship-building or in the generation, transformation or transmission of electricity or motive power of any kind; any undertaking engaged in building and civil engineering, including construction, repair, maintenance, alteration and demolition work, and any undertaking as prescribed by the Minister responsible for Labour.
  • A “Ship” is defined as any sea-going ship, vessel or boat of any description registered in Barbados.
  • No child is to be employed in any industrial undertaking or ship – the exceptions are to work done in technical schools, on school ships or training ships under the supervision of a teacher or person authorised by the Minister of Education, or where members of the same family are employed.
  • No child shall work between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • No child shall be employed during school hours.
  • No young person shall be employed in any industrial undertaking during the night (6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.) or in any work that is likely to cause injury to his health, safety or morals.
  • The employer/master of young persons employed in an industrial undertaking or ship shall keep a register of:
    • Their names and addresses;
    • Their dates of birth;
    • Their starting and ending dates of employment.
  • The register shall be kept open to inspection by the Port Manager, Chief Labour Officer and the Police at all reasonable times.
  • The Chief Labour Officer is to issue a certificate for an employer toemploy persons at night i.e. 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. in any industrial undertakings if:
    • Adequate transportation to and from work is provided.
    • Proper rest rooms and facilities for eating meals are provided.
    • Adequate intervals for rest and meal-time are afforded the employee.

Protection of Wages Act (Cap. 351)

This Act seeks to make provision for the protection of wages of workers.

Key Features:

  • Discount, interest or any similar charges made on account of any advance of wages are prohibited.
  • Deductions or payment in respect of fines are prohibited except for bad or negligent work, or for damage to the materials and property of the employer caused by wilful misconduct.
  • Deductions and assignments of wages should not exceed 1/3 of wages in a pay period.
  • Employer shall keep a register of wage payments.

Public Holidays Act (Cap. 352)

This Act seeks to amend and consolidate the Acts relating to public holidays and provide guidance on the restrictions to the opening of businesses.

Severance Payments Act (Cap 355A)

This Act seeks to provide severance payments to employees who cease to be employed in circumstances of redundancy or related matters.

Key Features:

  • For severance to be paid, the employee must have two (2) years or 104 weeks of continuous employment with the same employer.
  • Severance is paid as a result of redundancy; being laid off or kept on short time; or dismissal due to a natural disaster.
  • Redundancy means:
    • The employer has ceased or intends to cease to carry on business for the purposes of which the employee was employed or to carry on that business in the place where the employee was employed;
    • The requirements of that business for employees to carry out work for which they were hired to carry out have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish.
  • For severance to be paid the employee must have been laid off for thirteen (13) consecutive weeks or sixteen (16) out of twenty – six (26) weeks when the contract of employment is terminated.
  • An employee shall not be deemed to be employed in work of a seasonal nature if he is employed outside of the season whether in the same or different capacity and the total of the periods of employment with his employer amounts to thirty – five (35) weeks or more in any year.
  • To qualify for a severance payment, an employee must be between the ages of 16 and up to the retirement age currently sixty – six (66) and a half years (the age of eligibility for a full pension from NIS)
  • To qualify for a severance payment an employee must be contracted for not less than twenty – one (21) hours per week.
  • An employee’s severance payis calculated as follows:
    • 2.5 weeks’ pay for the first ten completed years of employment, calculated at his average weekly basic pay for the last 104 weeks;
    • 3 weeks’ pay for the next ten completed years of employment;
    • 3.5 weeks’ pay for the every completed year of employment greater than 20 years, but not more than 33 completed years of employment.
  • No tax is deducted from severance payments.
  • The severance payment must be paid within two (2) months of its becoming due or period up to four (4) months if approved by National Insurance Board allows. After this time interest is added to the unpaid severance payment.
  • An employer can revoke his decision to sever an employee’s contract of employment if the employer offers to re-engage the employee on terms similar to those under which he presently works.
  • An employer who has paid a severance payment to an employee is entitled to a rebate out of the National Insurance fund.
  • An employee is not entitled to a severance payment if:
    • He is dismissed for gross misconduct.
    • The employer, if before the relevant date, offers to renew the contract or re-engage the employee under a new contract on similar terms under which he currently works and the employee unreasonably refused the offer.