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Doing Business in Jamaica: Hiring and Employment

Before embarking on any business venture, is it important to first identify the possible sources of labour, evaluate which is most cost efficient and productive, and investigate the legal requirements to employ this labour source.

Whether hiring from overseas of hiring locally, the law sets out several criteria and requirements that must be satisfied.

The legal framework surrounding overseas employment in Jamaica is governed by the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act and the Caribbean Community Free Movement of Skilled Persons Act. The Work Permit section of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in Jamaica is responsible for the administration of these Acts.

Hiring a Foreign National

In order for a foreign national to work in Jamaica, they must first obtain a work permit.  A work permit authorizes the person to work in Jamaica for a specific period of time, according to its specifications.  

The application for a work permit on behalf of the employee can be made through the prospective employer or through legal representation.

The employer must state the reason for applying for the work permit and must also state the efforts taken to recruit a Jamaican national. The application form must be submitted as well as proof of qualification, a police record, resume, proof of Business Registration, Tax Compliance Certificate, copies of employee’s passport showing identification page as well as landing status and relevant visas, two photographs and a completed and signed TRN Form.

The fees for work permits vary from JA$27,000 for the Work Permit fee for periods up to three (3) months, to J$81,000 for Work Permits over nine (9) months but less than one (1) year. The Application Fee is JA$14,400.  Work Permits granted for any period in excess of one (1) year JA$27,000 for every three (3) month period or part thereof.  A fee of JA$7,200.00 or its equivalent will be charged to replace ID Cards lost, damaged or stolen.

Whenever a person to whom a Work Permit has been granted wishes to withdraw his/her services from one employer and take up employment with another before the expiration of the current Work Permit the applicant is required to submit a letter from the previous employer when making a new application, advising whether or not there is any objection to the applicant accepting employment elsewhere in Jamaica.

Employment Laws in Jamaica

Jamaica has several laws regulating the employment sector government issues such as recruitment, discrimination, minimum wage, absence from work and time off, remuneration, collective bargaining, holidays, termination, redundancy, leave and safety in the workplace and factories. Some key pieces of legislation include:

  • Employment (Equal Pay For Men and Women) Act

  • Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payments) Act

  • Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payments) Regulations, 1974

  • Factories Act

  • Factories Act: Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction (Safety, Health and Welfare) Regulations

  • Factories Act: Docks (Safety, Health and Welfare) Regulations

  • Factories Regulations, 1961

  • Factories Act: Rules

  • Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act

  • Holidays with Pay Act

  • Labour Officers (Powers) Act

  • Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act

  • Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes: Labour Relations Code

  • Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Regulations, 1975

  • Maternity Leave Act

  • Minimum Wage Act

  • Minimum Wage Act Orders

  • Women (Employment of) Act

  • Workmen’s Compensation Act

New employers or existing employers are always encouraged to get advice from an Attorney-at-Law with employment issues.  An attorney can also draft employment contracts, termination letters, warnings to employees, employee handbooks and policies to ensure they are complaint with the law.