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Barbados: Related Information

Labour Regulation

Barbados employment legislation dates from some while back, and is not thought locally to provide an adequate basis for employer/union relations in modern times.

The standard legal workweek is 40 hours in 5 days, and the law requires overtime payment for hours worked in excess. The Government respects ILO conventions, standards, and other sectoral conventions regarding maximum hours of work. However, there is no general legislation that covers all occupations. Employers must provide a minimum of 3 weeks' annual leave.

Workers freely exercise their right to form and belong to trade unions and to strike. Of a work force of 145,000 persons, approximately 30 percent belong to trade unions.

Employers have no legal obligation to recognize unions under the Trade Union Act of 1964, but most do so when a significant percentage of their employees expressed a desire to be represented by a registered union. While there is no specific law that prohibits discrimination against union activity, the courts provided a method of redress for employees who allege wrongful dismissal. The courts commonly awarded monetary compensation but rarely order reemployment.

The law provides for the right to organize and bargain collectively. Normally, wages and working conditions were negotiated through the collective bargaining process, but in 1993 the Tripartite Prices and Incomes Policy Accord established a 2-year wage freeze. Since then, negotiated protocols contain provisions for increases in basic wages and increases based on productivity. Protocol Four, which covers 2001-04, was intended to encompass the needs of an increasingly global workforce as the Caribbean nations moved towards the development of a single market economy and the free movement of skilled labor.

The law accords full protection to trade unionists' personal and property rights. All private and public sector employees are permitted to strike, but essential workers may strike only under certain circumstances and after following prescribed procedures.

There are prescribed minimum wage levels in Barbados.



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