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Jamaica: Lags Behind Region In Protecting Workers From Unjust Dismissals

Despite the island’s two major political parties being birthed out of trade union movements and to which they are still closely aligned today, Jamaica continues to lag behind its smaller Caribbean neighbours in providing adequate protection for workers from unfair dismissal and termination.

This was disclosed by Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, dean of the Faculty of Law at the Trinidad-based St Augustine campus of The University of the West Indies, during Wednesday’s International Labour Organization (ILO) Caribbean virtual round table to discuss termination of employment and related legal issues in the COVID-19 environment.

Describing the legal landscape in the region in relation to termination as a mixed bag, Antoine said the current laws act as a disincentive to employment and are not far-reaching enough to contemplate disasters and other emergencies, such as COVID-19.

“We have done a lot of work, but much more still needs to be done, and many countries in the region have now implemented hard legislation which gives protection against unfair dismissal,” she said, pointing out that Jamaica does not number among the progressive states.

“In the larger countries, Trinidad and Tobago and in Jamaica in particular – and until very recently, Barbados, because they only changed their law about three or four years ago after nearly 15 years of discussing it – … [they] still do not have specific legislative protection against unfair dismissals or unjustifiable termination. Believe it or not,” Antoine said.

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