The official name is the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. It is an island nation located in the Caribbean comprised of over 700 separate islands, cays and islets. The official language is English although there are different dialects that incorporate creole-styled words. Tourism and finance are the two biggest industries in the Bahamas. Political and economic stability combined with a business-friendly government make the Bahamas an ideal destination to expand into the Caribbean.
Employment contracts in the Bahamas may be verbal or written. Employers need to inform the employee of the following:
Wages must be paid in Bahama dollars and at intervals of no more than a month. Background checks prior to employment are common, but employers are not allowed to take fingerprints or administer lie detector tests. Exceptions are provided for lottery and gaming businesses
The standard work period is eight hours a day and 40 hours per week. If the work hours are irregular due to the type of work performed, the average number of hours worked over a four-week period should be 40 hours. Employees in industrial, construction, manufacturing, trans-shipment, law enforcement or essential service sectors may work more. The standard 40-hour work week does not apply to supervisors or managers. Overtime is paid at between 150% and 200% of the basic rate depending on when the work is performed.
Employees with at least six months of service receive one week of paid sick leave each year. Any unused sick leave does not roll over to the next year. Employees must provide a medical certificate as proof of illness. Employers can require an examination by an independent physician and have the right to deny the leave if the physician determines that the employee is capable of working.
Female employees with at least one year of service are entitled to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave once every three years. Generally, at least one week is taken before birth and eight weeks after birth, but this can be adjusted when the actual birth varies from the due date. An additional six weeks of unpaid leave is available if the employee suffers a pregnancy-related illness. Maternity benefits are paid by both the employer and the National Insurance Board to eligible employees. Employees with at least six months of service are entitled to one week of paid family leave for the birth of a child or the death or illness of a spouse, child or parent.
Bonuses are common after a year of employment and employers often pay a Christmas Bonus.
In addition to public holidays, employees who have worked at least six months are entitled to one week of paid vacation. This increases to two weeks of paid vacation for employees who have one year of service, and three weeks of paid vacation for employees who have seven or more years of service. Vacation days need to be paid to the employee at least one day before the start of the vacation.
The following holidays are observed in the Bahamas:
The Bahamas provides national public health insurance to residents, but private insurance is also available. The national health insurance option is funded through the general budget and provides primary care services. However, there are proposals to expand the services offered and fund those services with contributions from employers and employees.
Termination of employment can occur at the end of a fixed term contract, by the employer (with or without cause), or by the employee. Employees can be terminated without pay or notice for breach of contract or for conduct that goes against the interest of the employer. Otherwise, employers generally must notify the employee in advance of dismissal. The notice period depends on the employee’s length of service and position. Employers must provide one week of notice or pay in lieu of notice to employees with six months to one year of service. For employees with more than one year of service, employers must provide two weeks of notice or pay in lieu of notice up to 24 weeks. Employees who are supervisors or managers are entitled to one month of notice or pay in lieu of notice for each year of service up to 48 weeks. Special rules apply to redundancy and disciplinary dismissals. An employee may also resign. The employee needs to provide two weeks of notice if they have one year but less than two years of service and four weeks of notice if they have two or more years of service.
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