In this week’s article, we will address:
- Who is considered to be an employee entitled to the protections of the Act (Employment);
- What must be addressed by the employer in the contract of employment/statement of particulars; and
- Minimum wages protections.
Who is protected by the Act
The Act defines an employee as anyone who has entered into a contract of employment. The contract, which is simply an agreement under which someone works and is paid for the work, does not have to be expressly discussed between the parties; their conduct can be understood as creating such a relationship. This is an implied contract. Also, it does not have to be in writing, contrary to the misconception at large that “we do not have a contract.” If can be for an unspecified period of time. It can be for a specified period of time. Or it can be for a specific task, independent of how long the employee takes to perform the task. A contract is formed once, based on the prevailing circumstances, the parties conduct, express words or actions, an agreement for one to deliver services and for the other to pay for those services, can be determined to exist.
For the purposes of the Act, a person who is considered to be a “dependent contractor” is also protected as if he were an employee.
A dependent contractor is someone whom we might call a “petty contractor”, someone who has to depend upon the individual, firm, governmental authority or company hiring him to provide the means for him to be able to deliver the work, for example, tools, equipment or money.
What must be contained in the contract of employment
Either set out in what is called the contract, or in a separate written statement, the employee, subject to some exceptions set out in the Act, must be provided with details in writing as follows:
- The names the employee and of the employer;
- The date of commencement of the contract;
- How much and how to calculate wages/salary;
- How regularly the employee will be paid- whether weekly, fortnightly or monthly or otherwise;
- The nature of the work to be performed;
- Normal hours of work;
- Any provisions for the termination of the contract other than those provided by the Act and or for probation, different from those provided by the Act; and
- Any disciplinary rules applicable to the employee.
Minimum Wages Protection
Legislation passed under the authority of the Employment Act, called the Minimum Wages Order (MWO), sets out minimum wages rates/salaries for agricultural workers, catering assistants, clerical assistants, construction workers, domestic workers, industrial workers, security guards and shop assistants.
Given the extensive categorisation, the only persons expressly and effectively excluded from the MWO are persons who are employed in managerial positions.
Minimum wages vary based on job and classification, job location, and business sector. Some variations are based on parish and sector, for example, there are minimum wages differences in some sectors for jobs in St George, St David, Carriacou and St Andrew. Other variations are based on job classifications, and in the case of heavy-duty vehicle drivers, on the weight of the vehicles operated.
Grenada Bar Association