Laws on labour in Jamaica every worker should know

Laws on labour in Jamaica every worker should know

QUESTION: Hello Legal Wiz,
I am about to do a contract with a part time employee to assist me. What laws should I consider?

Dear Sean-O,
The critical

List of Jamaica Labour laws are:
· Trade Union Act 1919
· Labour Relations & Industrial Disputes Act (LRIDA), 1975 Labour Relations Code
· Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payment) Act, 1974
· Holiday with Pay Act, 1974
· Minimum Wage Act, 1938
· Maternity Leave Act, 1979



Trade Union Act, 1919
This governs the establishment, function and conduct of registration of trade unions.
Outlines the procedures for gaining membership and settling industrial disputes

· The legality of trade unions

· Submission of Statements of Accounts

· Rules of trade unions

· The procedures for handling disputes

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Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act, 1975
This stipulates the rights of the worker in relation to trade union membership and industrial action.

Establish a permanent arbitration panel in the IDT.

Sets out its functions, powers and also establishes the Boards of Inquiry.

Provide for settlement of disputes in essential services.

Settle dispute in other establishments of national interest

To deal with the right of workers in respect of trade union membership

Provide for the taking of representational polls to determine bargaining rights

Provide for reinstatement of workers found by the IDT to have been unjustifiably dismissed

Make awards of the IDT binding in law

Provide for a Labour Relations Code.

The right to join and take part in a union.

Duty to Recognize

Machinery for the settlement of representational rights claims

Ballot Procedure


Every worker shall (between himself and his employer) have the right –

· To be a member of such Trade Union

· To take part at any appropriate time in the activities of any Trade Union of which he is a member.

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Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payment) Act, 1974
Applies to all workers including household workers, however is excludes civil service workers in central and local government departments

Redundancy payment for workers dismissed for reasons of redundancy

Notice payment in the event of redundancy

Redundancy payment on the basis of years of service

Qualification for redundancy

Sets minimum standard of payment

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Holiday with Pay Act, 1974

Sets out the conditions under which workers are entitled to holidays and sick leave with pay or such gratuities and benefits as may be determined.

The Holidays with Pay Order regulates the granting of both vacation leave (holiday) with Pay and Sick Leave with Pay.

The entitlement stipulated by this Order is the minimum to be granted.

For each year of employment, (each 12 month period from the first day of employment) the worker qualifies, and becomes eligible for paid vacation leave.

The Holidays with Pay Order, thus stipulates the minimum vacation leave to be granted and the method of qualifying;

The main principle is that a worker earns vacation leave by virtue of working for a certain number of days in a year;

In principle and by law, vacation leave is paid before the holiday begins, or at any other time agreed upon by the parties concerned;

Vacation leave cannot be granted during a period of notice given by the employer to terminate employment.

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Minimum Wage Act, 1938
Allow for the fixing of minimum wages to be paid to certain categories of workers

The 1974 amendment allows for the appointment of a Minimum Wage Advisory Commission for the purpose of fixing a National Minimum Wage

The Order may regulate the hours of work or other terms and conditions and may fix different minimum wages in different categories of establishment.

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Maternity Leave Act, 1979
In order to protect all female workers from possible unfair treatment, the Government had to set certain minimum standards for employers to follow;

These standards however, does not prevent employers from offering better deals to their female workers, and in fact, many organizations make offers which are above the national minimum standards in order to attract suitable workers.

The Act defines “confinement” as the ‘birth of a living child or the birth of a child whether living or dead after twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy’ (Section 2) (This will include premature birth);

A female worker is entitled to three (3) paid maternity leave, while in the employ of the same employer

The Maternity Leave Act applies to all qualified female workers, irrespective of whether or not she is married;

Absence from work through the granting of maternity leave shall not constitute a break in the continuity of the worker’s employment;

Indeed, prior to the passing of the Maternity Leave Act in 1979, the continuity of the female’s employment, for the most part, was broken upon resumption to work from maternity leave, notwithstanding the fact, that the leave in itself, was left up to the discretion of the employer.

To qualify for maternity leave it is essential and indeed mandatory that the worker:-

· Be at least 18 years old;

· Be continuously employed, for a minimum of 52 weeks by the same employer as at the date the maternity leave begins, (the worker must have completed 52 weeks prior to going on maternity leave);

· Inform her employer in writing, of her intended absence from work owing to her pregnancy and that she intends to return to work; ( this should be done by the 29th week of pregnancy);

· Present a medical certificate to her employer stating that it is necessary for her to be absent owing to reasons of pregnancy, if she is requested by her employer to present same;

· Be at least 28 weeks pregnant and;

· Should be working a minimum of 18 hours per week, (not necessary to work a 40 hour-work-week).

· A qualified worker is entitled to a minimum of twelve (12) weeks maternity leave:-the first eight (8) weeks of which should be paid for; while the last four (4) weeks will be without pay;

· If there is medical reason that necessitates an extension of the initial 12 weeks of maternity leave (either arising from the illness of mother or child), then the Act provides an additional fourteen (14) weeks leave on submission of a medical certificate;

· This extension, if necessary, will not be paid for, unless the employer wishes to do so.

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22 thoughts on “Laws on labour in Jamaica every worker should know

  1. i am doing a project on the labour law in jamaica and how it benefit employer and employee i need some info

    Here are a few laws governing labour in Jamaica thats additional to those above:
    Holidays with Pay Act; Foreign Nationals and Citizenship Employment Act, and Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act; Minimum Wage Act;
    Here area few places you can get reasonable information:
    Libraries such as Supreme Court, Kings Street
    Ministry of Labour, North Street

  3. Hey legal wiz, what is the maximum timeline on a contract eg. an employee is given a contract that has no timeline (months, years) is this contract truly legally binding ?

  4. I need information on Jamaica’s Labour Laws in regard to the rights and benefits of an employee, I am doing a project on it. Thank you.

  5. @ JADE:
    Here are a few laws governing labour in Jamaica:
    Holidays with Pay Act; Foreign Nationals and Citizenship Employment Act, and Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act; Minimum Wage Act;
    Here area few places you can get reasonable information:
    Libraries such as Supreme Court, Kings Street
    Ministry of Labour, North Street

  6. Good Day Legal Wiz,
    As it relates to contract workers what does the law say about working on public holidays as it relates to remuneration? Also, what does it say about the tenure of the contract meaning if if last for 3months and then ends and then a new contract is given as the previous one ends should there be any form of gratutiy payment or should the staff be given “leave” before commencing the new contract?
    Thank you for your time.


  7. Evening, If I started working in February and I got pregnant in April so Im two months pregnant now, What issues will I be facing as it relates to maternity leave?
    Will I be terminated?
    Will I be able to get paid maternity leave?
    Will it be at my employers’ discretion to grant me maternity leave without pay?
    Can you tell me my options, I would like to know.

    Thank you.

  8. Good morning,
    what is my rights if my department is having a function that is not related to work and i do not feel like taking part, does that give you the right to say I am not a Team member and write me down for this?

  9. My friend has been offered a job in Jamaica, but they insist on her signing a one year contract that requires her to work up to seven days a week with no compensation for overtime for the year. She wouldn’t even be able to quit if she finds her schedule is too demanding. Is this legal in Jamaica?

  10. Hi,

    Good Day,

    I have a query. If one is permanently employed and due to staff promotions, I have to act in a role until this position is filled, I want to know what are my rights because I have been successfully acting in this role for over 9 months now and I am yet to be confirmed.

    What are my rights. I am of the view that acting successfully over a certain period would lead to automatic assignment/confirmation in the new role.

    As well as if there were a redundancy exercise to take place, what level of pay will be used to complete my redundancy payment calculation. My official role or the one that I have been acting in for over 9 months.

    Thanks for any feedback on this issue.

  11. @Ian Moone says July 29, 2019:
    Thanks for writing in. Probation period usually is six months. Therefore the attorneyatlaw responding to your query will need to see your contract and get more information.
    As for the level of pay in the event of redundancy, your contract needs to be reviewed before more information can be shared. If this is unsatisfactory, please free to contact an attorney/ directly.

  12. Hi,
    I am a UK student wanting to work in Jamaica after my 2 year however I noticed that most jobs are asking that employees have knowledge of the Jamaican labour law is this in training or common knowledge.

  13. @ kimberley McKenzie on August 9, 2019
    Thanks for posting your concern. All the best. Labour laws are found online or can be bought at the national printing office.

  14. Good day.

    I see a lot of information about termination but not so much about resignation. My question therefore…
    Having worked for five months with an employer and then deciding to resign, is it mandatory for the former employee to be paid any final payment? (Employee was eligible for two weeks leave but didn’t take any)
    Thanks in advance.

  15. Hi, I am doing an assignment. Can you tell me what are the procedures and legal implications for termination and resignation? Thanks

  16. Good day, I have an employee who reports sick once per week. He has been out sick for 18 days since the start of the year. Can he be dismissed?

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