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The Labor Laws in Jamaica are enacted with three purposes in mind. These are usually known as protective,
auxiliary and restrictive. These are explained below

Protective Legislation These laws that have as their primary intention to protect employees from
any unjust behavior on the part of the employee or the government itself.
Examples of these are those laws classified as Employment Standards
Minimum Wage
The Factories Act/ Occupational Safety and Health
The Juveniles Act (1951)
The Employment Act (Equal Pay for Men and Women,
The Women Act (Employment of) 1942.
Maternity Leave Act (1979)
Employment Termination and Redundancy Payment Act
They also include the Social Security Legislation
National Insurance Act

Auxiliary Legislation These laws serve to advance the practice of collective bargaining in the
country it is felt that a process that includes both worker and
management in deciding matters that affect employees is better than a
unilateral establishing of rules and regulations. Examples of these laws
Trade Union Act (1919, 1938)

Restrictive Legislation The Emergency Powers Act , 1938 Amended 1969

LRIDA (1975) This Act contains a section on Essential Services
which identifies those areas of the service that is not entitled to strike.
These are identified so as to protect the national interest and to
prevent a free for all in the event that these sectors have grouses with
their employers. The Law provides mechanisms for dealing with these

THE TRADE UNION ACT 1919 (Last amended in 2002)

This act was proclaimed on October 25, 1919 and deals with the following subjects:

Legality of Trade Unions. Previously a trade union was illegal because it was considered to be in
restraint of trade. This law makes it legal for trade unions to exist and person joining will no
longer be liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy or otherwise.

Registration of Trade Union . Application for registration of the union must be made within 30
days of the formation of the union by the Committee of Management or Trustees of the union. This
application should be accompanied by the names of all union officers, a copy of the rules and
regulations and where the union was already in operation, a statement of its financial affairs. All
registered Trade Unions must have a registered office.

In 2002, considerable amendments were made to the Trade Union Act.

Procedures for Conducting Disputes. This Act does NOT support the following, making it an
offense against the Act, punishable by a fine not exceeding $20,000 or imprisonment for no more
than three months, to

use violence or intimidate any person (manager or worker), his or her spouse , or
hide any tools, clothes or property belonging to any worker
watch or beset the house in which any other worker or manager lives so as to
impede entrance and egress to and from the building, and to intimidate the occupants
or to lead to a breach of the peace
trail or follow a person wherever he or she goes
follow the person with a crowd of 2 or more persons in a disorderly manner through
and street or road

THE FACTORIES ACT 1943 (Last amended in 2004)

Quoting from the JEF revised Summary of Labor Laws (2006), the Factories Act calls for employers operating
factories to put into place certain safety, health and welfare provisions. It allows for the Chief Factory Inspector
to prosecute for failure to observe the provision of the Act and the Regulations there-under. Plans for new
factories have to be approved by the CFI who also issues Certificates of Registration. The Chief Factory
Inspector is usually the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labor.

The Act provides that:

Registration and Sanctions

Factories to be registered

A Register of Factories to be kept

The appointment of the Chief Factory Inspector and inspectors by the Minister of Labor

Supervision of factories and machinery to be made by inspectors

Failure to obtain certification and to comply with the regulations of the Factorys Act is an
offence punishable by fines and imprisonment depending on the infringement that is carried

Every part of the ways, works, machinery or plant must be constructed in such a way that it
does not provide imminent risk of bodily injury and any persons

No person should sell, let or hire for use in a factory, any mechanically driven machine which
does not comply with the safety regulation of the law

There should be a safe means of approach and exit from any factory or machinery

All dangerous places should be fenced and covered

Fire extinguishers should be provided

Factory owners should comply with the inspection, testing and maintenance regulations in
regard to all machinery and equipment in the factory

All electrical apparatus shall be properly insulated

Ropes and chains used in the company should be examined every 6 months

Proper ventilation of any factory should be provided, in particular in those places that work
with dangerous materials

All floor, passages, stairs etc, should be properly constructed and maintained.

All equipment such as ladders should be soundly constructed and maintained.

Any accident that occurs in a factory that causes loss of life to a person employed in that
factory or disables any such person for more than 2 days from earning full wages shall be
reported to the Chief Factory Inspector at once

Any other accident that takes place in the factory of a less serious nature should be included in
the report made to the Inspector of Factories e.g. accidental fires, explosions, collapse or
failure of any building or structure and accidents to machinery or plant that cause cessation of
work for less than 2 days.


Sanitation facilities (including lavatory accommodation, changing rooms and water) must be
provided for the workers

Life saving and first aid appliances should be in all factories (i.e. full furnished first aid kits
and persons trained in first aid application etc.)

The space to be allowed for each worker shall not be less than 400 cubic feet

Effective lighting and a reasonable temperature should be maintained

Protective clothing such as gloves, masks, goggles, water boots should be provided where
necessary in relation to the nature of the job.


OF 1974 (last amended in 1988)

Gazetted on the 9th December, 1974, this act applies to all workers including household workers. However, it
does not apply to those persons who are employed in the Civil Service to central and local government. Also,
you should bear in mind that the law outlines minimum standards and employers are free to provide more
generous terms of notice and redundancy payment if they deem it fit.


Notice (employee and employer). The law requires that employers recognize the good
service rendered by employees and give a reasonable period of time in which to seek
alternative employment and make adjustments to life without a job. To this end, the law
requires that an employer must give notice to an employee of a pending termination. If,
however, giving notice may endanger the work of the company, the employer is permitted to
give payment in lieu of notice. It must pay the required amount as laid out in this law. It is to
be noted that while the employer must give notice commensurate with the years of service, the employee is
required by law to give only TWO WEEKS NOTICE, irrespective of his length of service. An employee
qualifies for notice pay after having been employed continuously for FOUR weeks.

For Cause. The ETRPA (1974) regulates the termination of an employee for any reason other than for
Payne (2001)1 defines cause as (i) serious misconduct, (ii) habitual neglect of duty or incompetence (iii)
Conduct incompatible with the employees duties or prejudicial to the employers business and (iv) Willful
disobedience to the employers orders.

Termination for cause refers to a situation where an employee is terminate as a result of gross misconduct
conduct that can be considered dangerous to life and limb. Termination may take place when an action is
deemed to be inexcusable in terms of its persistence after warning and discussion. Such a termination does
NOT attract notice or notice pay employment can be terminated immediately in this case.

During Probation. It should also be noted that the law permits a 90 day probation period during which the
employment of the probationer may be terminated without notice by either party. It is also to be noted that a
company may define its own period of probation, before it offers a full time contract of employment to an
employee, but in regard to notice pay, the law determines that after 3 months service, notice in the extent of 2
weeks must be given, and if notice is not given, payment instead of notice should be give in the amount of two
weeks salary.
Notice Pay Qualification Scale. The law requires notice to be given in writing, unless done in the presence
of a credible witness.

Tenure Notice Required

Under 5 years Not less than 2 weeks
5 but less than 10 ------------------ 4 weeks
10 but less than 15 ------------------ 6 weeks
15 but less than 20 ------------------ 8 weeks
20 and over ------------------ 12 weeks

Qualification for notice pay - unless under probation, a worker must be continuously employed for a period
of no less than four weeks before he or she is entitled to notice pay. An employee who is employed for a fixed
term ( i.e. is working under temporary contract, e.g. for 1 year or 6 months) is not entitled to notice at the end
of his contract.

Normal Wage. Since payment instead of notice may be paid, it is important to understand exactly how
the notice pay is calculated. It is calculated on the normal wage. This refers to the remuneration normally
paid as wages or commission. It includes bonus but not overtime or shift premiums or special allowances.
Examples of special allowances are: height pay, shift premium, lunch allowance. For purposes of calculating the
severance and notice payment the last normal week is used. Persons on commission or piece rates get 1/4 of the
payment received for the last four working weeks and this is counted as 1 week.



This act provides minimum standards that should be adhered to.


week = 12 midnight Sunday to12 midnight the next Sunday

wage means remuneration in money and does not include the value of: lodging or food
supplies or any other benefit conferred to or on any worker by his employee.

weekly workers = household workers regularly employed for not less than 40 hours per

rest day = every worker other than an hourly paid worker shall be allowed in each week one
day as a rest day.

Waiting Time = any period which any worker, acting on the instruction of his employer, has to
wait at his work place in order to be available for work shall be reckoned as a period during
which work is done by that worker.

National Minimum Wage, effective January 1, 2006 - All workers shall be paid no less than
$70.00 per hour for work not exceeding 8 hours on a normal working day or 40 hours in any week.
$3,200 per week. Currently, the rate stands at $5,500.00 per week.

THE MATERNITY LEAVE ACT, 1979 (amended in 2003)

To be eligible to access Maternity Leave a worker must have the following qualifications:

Full time worker Seasonal Worker

Have been continuously employed by Have been engaged by that employer for periods
that employer for a period of not less which amount to 52 weeks over a 5 year period
than 52 weeks.. (1 year ) at the time immediately preceding the date of absence
when the leave begins

Must inform the employer that she wishes to take Maternity Leave

Must state that she intends to return to work with the employer

Must produce a medical certificate from a reliable physician supporting her claim to be pregnant.


Birth: A worker is entitled to maternity leave of no more than 12 weeks. This is for the actual birthing of the

Complications: In the event that a complication following the birth of the child poses a threat to the mother or
the child, an extension may be granted of up to, but not exceeding, 14 weeks. This extension shall commence
immediately after the end of the 12-week period already granted.


Same Job, Same Pay, Unbroken Pension. If an employee has been granted maternity leave, she has the
right to expect to return to her old job a the same pay, conditions of work and with unbroken pension and
seniority rights. Her terms of employment will not be considered to have been broken by maternity leave.


Failure to Inform Employer. If the employee who has been granted maternity leave fails to notify her
employer or his successor, at least THREE WEEKS in advance of return of the date on which she wishes to
return to
work, she forfeits the right to return to the job

Redundancy - Return. If during her absence, her job has been made redundant, she is obviously not entitled
to the same job, but should be offered alternative employment under a new contract of employment The new job
should be of the same or of a similar level and should be appropriate for her in the circumstances. The condition
should not be less favorable than before.

Redundancy Depart. If no suitable job is available, then the worker is entitled to redundancy payment
payable as of the notifies day of return to work.


An employee is entitled to EIGHT (8) WEEKS maternity pay. This pay is in regard of the first 8 weeks of
the maternity leave. An employee is advised to apply two weeks of holidays with pay to the maternity pay if
they wish to stay at home longer with the child.

However, payment for maternity leave is contingent upon

(a) informing her employer in writing (if so requested) not less than two weeks before the
relevant day, or as soon thereafter as is reasonably practicable, of the expected week of

(b) Producing a certificate supporting that date from a registered medical practitioner or a
registered midwife

(c) The fact that she has NOT received m payment for THREE PREGNANCIES already.
maternity pay is only payable in the case of 3 pregnancies from one company.

THE WOMEN (EMPLOYMENT OF) LAW OF 1942 (amended in 1974)

This act was promulgated with the view of protecting women and maintaining a family structure in which
womens most important role was the care of the family. To that end, the law deals with a variety of topics that
may seem a little unusual to us here and now. The act is short and recently there have been discussions in the
press about the removal of this act from the books. It presents the following clauses:

This law states that no woman shall be employed in night work except were the night work is:

(a) For the purpose of completing work commenced by day and interrupted by some
unforeseeable cause which couldnt not be prevented by reasonable care; or

(b) Necessary to preserve raw materials, subject to rapid deterioration, from certain loss; or

(c) That of a responsible position of management held by a woman who is not ordinarily
engaged in manual work; or

(d) Carried on in connection with the preparation, treatment, packing transportation or shipment
of fresh fruit; or

(e) That of nursing and of caring for the sick; or

(f) Carried on in a cinematograph or other theatre while such theatre is open to the public; or

(g) Carried on in connection to a hotel or guest house, or with a bar, restaurant or club; or

(h) Carried out by a Pharmacist registered under the Pharmacy Act

The Minister is permitted to add to the list of exceptions when he or she sees fit to do so.


The total hours of work for employment either by day or night that a woman is permitted to work under
paragraphs (g) and (h) of the section above, shall in NO CASE EXCEED 10 HOURS in any 24 hours.


In order to ensure that this act is not disobeyed, the Chief Factory Inspector or any other inspector appointed
under such an Act, a Medical Officer (Health) or an Officer of the Police Force, may at all reasonable times
inspect any industrial undertaking where women are employed and take such steps as are necessary to ensure
that the law is upheld.

Every person who obstructs, or who refuses to permit any such inspection shall be guilty of an offence against
this act, and shall be liable on summary conviction by a Resident magistrate to pay a fine not exceeding $20.00
and in default of payment to imprisonment with or without hard labor for a term not exceeding 3 months.

The Minister is empowered to make regulations governing women working in any class of industrial
undertaking, before or after child-birth, to provide for health and safety of women employed in the industrial
undertakings and to prescribe the hours of work and other general conditions in relation to the employment of



Equal Pay. Means a rate in which there is no differentiation between male and female based on the sex of
the employee.

Equal Work. Means work performed by male and female employees alike where the duties are similar or
substantially similar in kind, quality and amount, where the conditions are similar or substantially similar, where
similar or substantially similar qualification, degrees of skill, effort and responsibility are required and the
differences (if any) between the duties of the male and female workers are not of practical importance or do not
occur frequently.


The Act demands that no employer shall by failing to pay equal pay for equal work, discriminate between
male and female employees employed by him in the same establishment in Jamaica.

Failure to comply exposes an employer to

A fine
Imprisonment with or without hard labor for a term not exceeding 12 months.
An injunction to pay the employee such sums as appear to be due to the
employee by reason of the employers default.

Mediation. No prosecution shall take place unless the employer has undertaken a process
of mediation remedy remedied

As far back as 1996, the United Nations launched it HIV/AIDS debate which quickly led into
the development of UNAIDS in 2001. Since then the United Nations in its different agencies
have set a priority on coping with HIV/AIDS and reducing the tremendous stigma and
scourge that it has brought across the world. In November, 2000, ILO formally established its
Global Programme on HIV/AIDS, known as ILO/AIDS and in June 2001, developed by a
tripartite team of experts from ILO member States, the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS
and the world of work.

In the Caribbean, since 2003, the ILO has been implementing HIV/AIDS Workplace
Education Programmes funded by the United States Department of Labor, in Belize,
Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (completed), as well as in Guyana (ongoing).
The programmes aim to contribute to the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the workplace, the
enhancement of workplace protection and reduction of its adverse consequences on social,
labour and economic development. A similar programme was launched for Suriname in 2007,
funded by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The countries of the
Eastern Caribbean are also benefiting from fast-track initiatives patterned after the HIV/AIDS
Workplace Education Programmes.

In the region, the ILO works closely with the Caribbean Community through the Pan
Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP), as well as with the Caribbean
Congress of Labour, Caribbean Employers' Confederation, Pan Caribbean Business
Coalition, Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce, UNAIDS, Joint United Nations
Team on HIV/AIDS, and UNESCO.

The ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work identifies ten key principles
that should be core to any comprehensive workplace strategy to protect the rights at work of
infected and affected workers.

The ILO Code: 10 Key Principles

1. Recognition of HIV/AIDS as a workplace issue
2. Non-discrimination on the basis of real or perceived HIV status
3. Gender equality must be an integral consideration in a workplace response
4. Healthy work environment for all concerned parties
5. Social dialogue in developing and implementing a workplace strategy
6. No screening for purposes of exclusion from employment
7. Confidentiality of HIV-related personal information
8. Continuation of employment relationship
9. Prevention strategies in the workplace
10. Care and support for infected and affected workers