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GLOSSARY OF IR TERMS AND CONCEPTS

Absenteeism The percentage of time that workers fail to report for work each day. Such absences may be voluntary or involuntary. Absenteeism may be defined as time off from the job without the prior approval of a manager. Alternative Work Workers may sometimes be unable to perform their duties as contained in their contract of employment or job description. This may be due to a number of reasons including pregnancy; the undertaking of an occupational safety and health investigation (see the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2004 S. 6(9) and S. 19(1) (a)). Alternative work may also be offered to an employee whose job has become redundant. Bargaining Unit The unit of workers determined by the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board (RRCB) as an appropriate bargaining unit. The bargaining unit is usually comprised of homogeneous classifications i.e. similar classifications of workers employed in one undertaking who share a common location or work and a common employer e.g. hourly paid worker, clerical/administrative workers. See S. 2(1) of the Industrial Relations Act Ch. 88:01 Casual Worker A person who is employed on a temporary or on an irregular or intermittent basis. See S. 2 of the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act 1985. Collective Agreement An agreement in writing between an employer and the recognized majority union on behalf of workers employed by the employer in a bargaining unit for which the union is certified, containing provisions

respecting terms and conditions of employment of the worker and the rights, privileges or duties of the employer or of the recognized majority union or of the workers, and for the regulation of the mutual relationship between an employer and the recognized majority union. See S. also 2(1) of the Industrial Relations Act Ch. 88:01 Collective Bargaining A process or set of procedural rules for arriving at conditions of work, including wages, through negotiations between employers and employees or their trade union representatives. The collective agreement which results from this process is applied to all employees within the bargaining unit. See also S. 2(1) of the Industrial Relations Act Ch. 88:01 Constructive Dismissal In certain circumstances an employer may not outrightly dismiss an employee but instead he changes some term or condition of the employees contract of employment or makes it extremely difficult for the employee to continue working in the normal way. If this happens, the employee may resign and claim that he has been constructively dismissed. See Trade Dispute 56 of 1992 between National Union of Government and Federated Workers v Furness Trinidad Limited

Contract of Employment A contract of employment is the agreement that governs the relationship between the employer and employee. It may be in writing, oral or partly in writing and partly written. See IRA s. 2(1) Contract for Service A contract for services is the agreement between an employer and a contractor for the provision of services. Contract of Service A contract of service is the agreement between an employer and an employee (see also contract of employment)

COLA This is acronym for Cost Of Living Allowance. This allowance may be granted to workers (mainly negotiated by Recognized Majority Unions) to cushion the effects of the rise in the cost of living and is frequently linked to the Retail Price Index which represents the average cost of goods and services. Call Back An employee, who has already left work for the day, may be asked to return to work shortly after leaving (the length of time is usually stipulated) because of unforeseen manpower requirements or other factors. The employee is normally paid premium rates for such work performed. Disciplinary Action Action taken, usually against an employee, arising out of a breach of rules, regulations or accepted standards of conduct or behaviour. Disciplinary action against a worker may be oral or written and may be in the form of a warning, suspension or termination, depending on the severity of the offence and as guided by a grievance schedule or the collective agreement.

Some Legal Principles on Disciplinary Action 1. When an employee has been accused of committing a criminal offence, guilt beyond reasonable doubt does not have to be established before a disciplinary decision can be taken and implemented.
However the rules of natural justice must be adhered to by their employer, viz: a. The employee should be advised of the nature of the offence which he has allegedly committed. b. The employee, having been so advised, should be given an opportunity to defend himself. c. Any decisions taken in connection with the above should be the result of an impartial and fair hearing. Fighting on the job

A physical exchange of a violent nature between employees that causes or is intended to cause bodily harm. The disciplinary action for this misdemeanour is summary dismissal in most cases. Grievance A grievance under a collective agreement is an allegation that the contract has been breached, intentionally or otherwise, resulting in an improper interpretation or application. Independent Contractor A person who is engaged on the basis of a contractual arrangement to do work over an estimated period of time and whose hours of work are not usually regulated by contract. Industrial Action Any action by an organisation or employer or groups of employers; by employees or groups of employees; or by trade unions, resulting in a disruption of the productive process. Such action may be in the form of a strike by workers; lock-out by employer; or any form of action that disrupts production and is taken in furtherance of an industrial dispute. Industrial Relations The interaction between people, and their complex relationships, which are common features of the workplace on a day-to-day basis. Many describe industrial relations as common sense. Common sense to one person is not necessarily common sense to another. Insubordination A commonly used term in industrial relations. According to the Living Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary, this means not submitting to authority; willfully disrespectful or disobedient: rebellious. An accusation of insubordination must therefore be substantiated by clear evidence of an employees failure to obey instructions, of being rude and disrespectful to his supervisor/manager or of behaving in a rebellious manner, thus causing a breakdown in relationships or frustrating the productive process.

Intoxication Employees who consume alcohol or other substances e.g. narcotics may be in a temporary state of mental or physical impairment due to the effects of the substance. This is a serious safety and health risk and such employees should not be allowed to perform work in that state. This may also be the subject of disciplinary action. See also the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2004 (as amended) S. 4 (1) and 10(1) (f) Job Abandonment An employee is deemed to have abandoned the job when: 1. Such an employee having applied for and receives leave (departmental, sick, vacation) and exhausts such leave, does not report/show up for work at the usual place for employment when said leave has been exhausted. 2. Such an employee, not in receipt of approved leave (departmental, sick, vacation), fails to report/show up for work at the usual place of work for a period of three days or more. A discretionary three days should be allowed to ascertain whether the absence is due to illness. 3. A seasonal employee in continuous employment fails to show up at the usual place of work in accordance with established recruiting practices. Lockout A form of industrial action taken by employers in furtherance of a dispute. The closing of a place of employment or the suspension of work by an employer or the refusal by an employer to employ or continue to employ any number of workers employed by him, done with a view to induce or compel workers employed by him to agree to terms or conditions of, or affecting employment but does not include the closing of a place of employment for the protection of property or persons therein.

Late Coming Reporting to work after the stipulated time for doing so. This may be the subject of disciplinary action. Loss Of Confidence An employer may lose confidence in a particular employees ability to perform his job due to some serious occurrence or conflict. For example if an employee is caught tampering with accounting records etc. Maternity Leave Time-off granted to a pregnant female worker to deliver and give postnatal care to her newborn baby. Maternity Leave is governed by the Maternity Protection Act 1998 and the period of leave is thirteen (13) weeks or more is agreed to between employer and employee/union. Misconduct The employer has the right to dismiss an employee without notice for misconduct or cause. Examples of such misconduct or cause include: 1. Insubordination or willful disobedience in carrying out a reasonable order under a contract of employment. 2. Breach of confidence in disclosing trade or other secrets. 3. Impaired or non-performance as a result of drunkenness or use of drugs (not medically prescribed). 4. Failure to display a reasonable degree of competence in the skill professed. Natural Justice The rules of natural justice must be adhered to by employers whenever disciplinary action is contemplated. This includes: 5. The employee should be advised of the nature of the offence which he has allegedly committed. 6. The employee, having been so advised, should be given an opportunity to defend himself. 7. Any decisions taken in connection with the above should be the result of an impartial and fair hearing.

Overtime Hours in excess of normal hours of work for which premium rates are agreed to and paid periodically. By agreement, overtime rates may vary between time-and-one-half basic pay for work done during the normal work week to double-and triple-time pay for work done on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Probation The initial period of permanent employment, usually three to six months, is called a probationary period. During this period the employee should be closely assessed and any shortcomings should be highlighted. It is also important to an appraisal of the employees performance before the probation expires and a decision should be made on whether the employee should be made permanent or should be terminated. Promotion The act of moving an employee upwards in the organisation. Promotion is a form of recognition of individual performance. Progressive Discipline This is a process for dealing with job-related behavior that does not meet expected and communicated performance standards. The primary purpose for progressive discipline is to assist the employee to understand that a performance problem or opportunity for improvement exists. Here are the steps in progressive discipline:1) Verbal warning 2) Written warning 3) Final written warning 4) Termination.

Procedure for Termination Employees must submit a written notice of voluntary resignation or retirement to the immediate supervisor at least two weeks prior to the effective date of termination, stating the reasons for the resignation. The original notice of resignation or retirement should be forwarded to the Human Resources Department for inclusion in the employees personnel file. It is the employees responsibility to take the actions listed below on or before the last day of work: 1. Return all tools, uniforms, equipment, credit cards, manuals, and other University property in the employees possession to his/her supervisor. 2. Return all keys to offices and buildings to his/her supervisor. 3. Settle all financial indebtedness to the company. 4. Contact the Payroll/ Manager in the Human Resources Department to set up an exit interview appointment to discuss benefits, options, and to afford the employee the opportunity to discuss his/her overall experience at the company. If the employee is dismissed involuntarily, it is the supervisors responsibility to ensure compliance with these actions. When a supervisor is notified that an employee is resigning or terminating employment, the supervisor must collect all companys keys and other property and instruct the employee to settle financial matters prior to leaving the company. For security purposes, the supervisor must cancel passwords for all information systems (computers, telephones). The supervisor must also cancel signature authority on Accounts Payable and any other accounts.

Paternity Leave Leave granted to a father for the birth or adoption of his child. This type of leave should be qualified by stating the exact number of days (on average 3-5 days) and the conditions under which the leave would be granted (e.g. the father must be married to the mother of the child).

Pension A steady income given to a person (usually after retirement). Pensions are typically payments made in the form of a guaranteed annuity to a retired or disabled employee. Some retirement plan (or superannuation) designs accumulate a cash balance (through a variety of mechanisms) that a retiree can draw upon at retirement, rather than promising annuity payments.

Profit: from Latin meaning to make progress, is defined in two different ways. Under capitalism, profit is a positive return made on an investment by an individual or by business operations. Recognized Majority Union A trade union certified under Part 3 of the Industrial Relations Act 1972 by the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board (RRCB) as the bargaining agent for workers comprised in a bargaining unit for the purpose of collective bargaining Redundancy The existence of surplus labour in an undertaking for whatever cause. See S. 2 (Interpretation) RSBA. Retrenchment The termination of employment of a worker at the initiative of an employer for the reason of redundancy. Retirement The termination of employment of a worker after having reached a stipulated age. The norm in Trinidad and Tobago is 60 65 years in accordance with entitlement to national statutory benefits e.g. National Insurance.

Strike A cessation of work, a refusal to work, to continue to work or to take up work by workers acting in concert or in accordance with a common understanding, or other concerted activity on the part of workers in contemplation of, or in furtherance of, a trade dispute, except that the expression does not include action commonly known as a sit-down strike, go-slow or sick-out. Severance Pay This is the monetary compensation that a retrenched employee is entitled to under the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act 1985 or in any collective or other agreement that contains superior benefits to the above statute. Severance Pay is calculated using the employees years of service and the formula contained in S. 18 of the above Act. Sexual harassment Any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct on the job, having the effect of making the workplace intimidating or hostile. Sexual harassment is considered a form of illegal discrimination and is a form of sexual and psychological abuse, ranging from mild transgressions to serious abuses. Allegations of sexual harassment should be investigated as soon as possible and should also be reported to the Police Service. If found guilty of sexual harassment on the job an employee may be subjected to immediate dismissal as this sends a strong message about the organizations commitment to the safety, health and welfare of its employees. Counselling and other rehabilitative measures should also be undertaken for victims. Place Case and ECAS Publication on Termination of Employment. Suspension To temporally withdraw the services of an employee who committed a breach of the companys policy and procedures. The period of suspension varies depending on the severity of the breach. Suspension Pending Investigation To temporarily remove an employee from the workplace so that a proper investigation can take place into allegations of misconduct. This

usually takes place in cases of fraud or theft in that the employee needs to be removed so that incriminating evidence would not be destroyed or tampered with. Because the employee has not been deemed guilty at this point, this type of suspension is usually with pay unless otherwise agreed to. The employee should be written to and advised of the fact that the company is investigating certain allegations of misconduct and that the employee would be required to be off the job for a specific period of time. The employer should also write the employee after investigations are completed to advise of the outcome. If the investigations reveal that the allegations are unsubstantiated, the employee should be advised to report to work in the usual manner. If, on the other hand, investigations reveal there is a probability of guilt, then the employee should be charged and given an opportunity to be heard, after which a decision can be taken. Place Case

Temporary Employee/Worker An employee who performs work in furtherance of an employment contract of a temporary nature, being a contract with a specific date of commencement and date of termination. The duration of the contract should be agreed to with the employee as it is an integral term of the contract. Theft
The act or crime of stealing somebody else's property. This is a dismissible offence and should not be treated lightly. All surrounding circumstances however should be taken into consideration as advised by the Industrial Court in Trade Dispute place case

Termination of employment
The process of bringing the employment contract to an end. There are various modes of termination. This includes but is not limited to; dismissal by the employer, retrenchment, resignation and retirement.

Unilateral Change Terms and conditions of employment of employees are normally stipulated in their contracts of employment, which can be either verbal or be in writing according to S. 2 Industrial Relations Act Ch. 88:01, an employer is not permitted unilaterally to change the terms and conditions of an employment contract with an employee, and if he does so without agreement, the employee would have the right to either abandon the contract or to sue for damages in terms of the contract. An employee can pursue such a matter at the Industrial Court as a Constructive Dismissal. See also Constructive Dismissal. See Trade Dispute 56 of 1992 between National Union of Government and Federated Workers v Furness Trinidad Limited

Unresolved Dispute When a dispute cannot be settled by both the union and the employer and the Minister has to intervene to assist in the settlement of the matter. Vicarious liability When one person is liable for the negligent actions of another person, even though the first person was not directly responsible for the injury. For instance, a parent sometimes can be vicariously liable for the harmful acts of a child and an employer sometimes can be vicariously liable for the acts of a worker.

Voting Entitlement to vote in the ballot must be accorded equally to all the members of a trade union who it is reasonable at the time of the ballot for the union to believe will be induced to take part or, as the case may be, to continue to take part in the industrial action in question, and to no others.

Victimization
To single an employee out unfairly for punishment or ill treatment.

Victimization on grounds of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation, is a breach of ILO Convention 111 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention. Trinidad has ratified this Convention.
Victimization for Trade Union activities is a criminal offence in violation of S. 42 Industrial Relations Act Ch 88:01.

See also Discrimination Vacation Leave A type of leave earned by an employee the purpose of which is to enable the employee to have rest and relaxation away from the job. In Trinidad, the norm with respect to quantum of vacation leave is two weeks per annum calculated from the date of employment.

Wrongful Dismissal A term used to describe the unjustifiable dismissal of a worker. Worker Any person who has entered into or works under a contract with an employer to do any skilled, unskilled, manual, technical, clerical or other work for hire or reward, whether the contract is expressed or implied, oral or in writing, or partly oral and partly in writing, and whether it is a contract of service or apprenticeship or a contract personally to execute any work or labour. See S. 2 Industrial Relations Act Ch 88:01.

Wage
A sum of money paid to a worker in exchange for services, especially for work performed on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis, or by the piece.

Workmens Compensation The purpose of Workmens Compensation is to provide for the payment of compensation to workmen for injuries suffered in the course of employment. It is not based on the negligence of the employer, but is absolute liability for medical coverage (subject to a limit), a percentage of lost wages or salary and payment for any permanent injury (usually based on an evaluation of disability). In Trinidad and Tobago the Workmens Compensation Act Ch 88:05 governs the law in this area.