Country Information

Jamaica is a beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea with spectacular beaches, mountains and rainforests. Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, is the largest city in the country. Jamaica has almost three million people with a GDP per capita equivalent to 39% of the world’s average. Besides English, Jamaicans also speak a creole language known as Patois. In 2019, the tourism sector grew significantly at around 9% resulting in a total of more than four million tourists.

Employment Contracts

Employment contracts in Jamaica may be verbal or written. Written contracts should include terms identifying the parties, end date (if for a fixed term), job description, working hours, salary, bonus (if any) and other items agreed to by the parties. Employment contracts can be for a fixed term or an indefinite period. Pre-employment background checks are permitted. These can include medical check-ups and criminal background checks. Employers generally give advance notice of investigations to the candidate and ask for permission to conduct the background check.

Working Hours

The standard workweek in Jamaica is 40 hours over seven days. It is common for individual and collective agreements to detail how many hours and on which days employees work. Anything exceeding 40 hours per week is considered overtime. Overtime is paid at a rate of 1.5 times the ordinary rate, including work rest days. If the employee earns a minimum wage, public holidays and rest days are paid with an increase of 100% over the ordinary rate.

Sick Leave

A permanent employee who has worked at least 110 days is entitled to sick leave of one day for every 22 days worked in the same year. After one year of work, the employee is entitled to sick leave of two working weeks. A casual employee is entitled to 10 days during the qualifying year. The benefits shall be 1/10th of 3% of their earnings for the period. Employees must inform employers of the illness the first working day after the illness starts and provide a medical certificate for conditions lasting more than three days. Employment and collective bargaining agreements may provide other conditions and entitlements.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

Female employees receive 12 weeks of paid maternity leave after 52 weeks of service at the date her absence begins. The benefit can be extended up to 14 weeks in case of illness with a medical certificate. To be granted maternity leave, the employee shall inform her employer of her leave two weeks in advance and in writing if the employer requires. A certificate is required from a registered medical practitioner, or a midwife registered under the Nurses and Midwives Act stating the expected week of the employee’s confinement.

Compensation

Employment contracts may be terminated at the end of the contract term (if for a fixed duration), by the employer, by the employee, or by mutual agreement between both parties. Employees with at least four weeks of service must provide two weeks of notice to the employer to terminate the contract. Employers are not required to pay employees a bonus.

Vacation Leave

In addition to public holidays, employees receive two weeks of vacation leave per year. After 10 years of work, it increases to three weeks of leave. Vacation leave begins to accrue after the employee has worked 110 days. However, the right to use the leave is usually granted the following year of employment unless there is an agreement otherwise. Sundays can be calculated in vacation leave entitlements if Sunday is an agreed regular working day for the employee. Employees who work at least 220 days per year are deemed to have worked a full year. Any accrued but unused leave is paid out upon separation of employment.

Public Holidays

Jamaica observes the following public holidays.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Ash Wednesday
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Labour Day
  • EmancipationIndependence Day
  • National Heroes Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing DayIf a public holiday falls on a Sunday, then the day off moves to the following Monday.
Health Insurance Benefits

The state provides universal healthcare, though companies offer supplementary private insurance.

Employment / Termination / Severance

Employment contracts may be terminated at the end of the contract term (if for a fixed duration), by the employer, by the employee, or by mutual agreement between both parties. Employees with at least four weeks of service must provide two weeks of notice to the employer to terminate the contract. Employers can terminate an employment contract without providing notice or paying severance within the probation period. The probation period must be specified in the employment contract and cannot exceed three months. An employment contract cannot be terminated for reasons related to the employee’s practice of their legitimate trade union rights .An employer may dismiss an employee for gross misconduct without providing notice or paying severance. Misconduct includes employee incompetency, fraud and immoral behavior. Outside the probation period, employers must provide notice to employees prior to terminating the employment contract. The notice requirement applies to all employees continuously employed for four weeks or more. An employee may waive the right to notice. Employers can also provide pay in lieu of notice. Notice must be in writing or delivered in front of a credible witness. Employees with 104 weeks (two years) of service are eligible for severance if dismissed for redundancy. This is referred to as a redundancy payment. For unfair dismissal (without cause), there is no statutory determination of compensation. If the litigation arises, it is decided by the Judicial Power or by the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT). At the end of a fixed-term contract, there is no severance payment nor is notice required.

Local Laws & Regulations

We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

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