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Antigua and Barbuda

Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Antigua and Barbuda


In Antigua and Barbuda, the Labour Code (2003) outlines the legal framework for employment termination. This includes lawful grounds for dismissal, notice periods, and severance entitlements.

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

Employers can terminate employment for several reasons:

Dismissal with Notice

  • Performance or Conduct-Related: Persistent unsatisfactory performance after warnings and a reasonable opportunity for improvement, or misconduct such as disobedience, dishonesty, or neglect of duty.
  • Redundancy: Termination due to economic or operational reasons, like the position becoming unnecessary within the company.

Dismissal without Notice (Summary Dismissal)

Employers may summarily dismiss an employee without notice period on grounds of serious misconduct, including:

  • Gross Misconduct: Severe offenses such as theft, violence, willful damage to company property, or serious breaches of contract.
  • Habitual Neglect: Persistent and unwarranted absence from work or habitual lateness, despite warnings.

Notice Requirements

The required notice period for termination depends on the employee's length of service:

  • Less than 1 year of service: 1 week's notice.
  • 1 to 5 years of service: 2 weeks' notice.
  • 5 to 10 years of service: 4 weeks' notice.
  • Over 10 years of service: 8 weeks' notice.

The notice period must be given in writing and can be a payment in lieu of notice if the employer chooses. Collective bargaining agreements or contracts may offer more favorable notice terms.

Severance Pay

Severance pay is mandatory for dismissals due to redundancy. The Labour Code stipulates the following calculation:

  • At least one day's pay for each month (or major fraction thereof) of continuous employment with the employer and any predecessor employer.


In Antigua and Barbuda, the law prohibits discrimination based on several protected characteristics. These include race, sex, creed, language, social status, disability, and age.

Protected Characteristics

  • Race: This covers a person's racial background, skin color, or ethnicity.
  • Sex: Discrimination against both men and women is prohibited.
  • Creed: Protection exists for an individual's religious or spiritual beliefs.
  • Language: This protects against discrimination due to language barriers or accents.
  • Social Status: Protects individuals from discrimination arising from socioeconomic position or perceived class distinction.
  • Disability: This prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disabilities. The law mandates reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities.
  • Age: Discrimination based on age is prohibited within parameters set by law.

Mechanisms for Redress

Individuals who feel they have been the victims of discrimination can seek recourse through several avenues:

  • The Labour Commission: Specializes in workplace discrimination disputes. They may engage in mediation between parties to resolve issues.
  • Court System: For instances where mediation through the Labor Commission fails or where the nature of the discrimination falls outside their scope, individuals can file lawsuits in the courts system.
  • Antigua and Barbuda Human Rights Commission: A prospective body that, if created, could play a significant role in handling human rights complaints and promoting social justice.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Antigua and Barbuda have legal responsibilities under anti-discrimination laws. These encompass:

  • Equal Opportunity: Creating a work environment free from discrimination. This includes fair hiring practices and promotions.
  • Anti-harassment Policy: Implementing a clear policy against sexual harassment and other forms of discriminatory harassment in the workplace.
  • Complaint Mechanisms: Establishing a system for employees to report discrimination or harassment concerns safely and confidentially.
  • Training: Employers may be obligated to provide training to employees on anti-discrimination law and procedures for creating a respectful and inclusive workplace.

Working conditions

The Labour Code in Antigua and Barbuda outlines a standard workweek of 40 hours, typically spread over five days. Work exceeding the standard 40 hours is regarded as overtime and must be compensated at a higher rate, generally at least 1.5 times the regular pay rate. The law may set limits on the maximum number of consecutive hours an employee can be required to work before needing a rest period.

Rest Periods

Employees are entitled to breaks during their workday, the specifics of which might be outlined in the Labour Code or in employment contracts. The law mandates a weekly rest period, typically a minimum of 24 consecutive hours. Antigua and Barbuda observes national public holidays, which are non-working days unless required by the nature of the job.

Ergonomic Requirements

While the Labour Code may not have very detailed ergonomic regulations, employers still have a responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. This includes:

  • Workstation Design: Employers should make reasonable efforts to design workstations in ways that minimize strain and risk of injury.
  • Equipment and Tools: Providing equipment and tools that are safe and suitable for the task at hand and offering training on safe use where needed.
  • Repetitive Motion: Where jobs involve repetitive motions, employers should consider ways to mitigate the risk of injury, such as job rotation or providing sufficient breaks.

For the most precise and up-to-date information on all aspects of working conditions in Antigua and Barbuda, it is advisable to directly consult the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code and any accompanying regulations.

Health and safety

Antigua and Barbuda prioritize occupational safety and health (OSH) through a legislative framework. This framework includes employer obligations, employee rights, and enforcement mechanisms.

Employer Obligations

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2013 (OSH Act), employers have several duties to ensure workplace safety:

  • Provide a Safe Work Environment: Employers must establish and maintain a workplace free from hazards that could cause injury or illness.
  • Risk Assessments: A formal risk assessment process is required to identify potential hazards and implement control measures.
  • Safe Work Procedures: Employers must develop and implement safe work procedures for various tasks to minimize risks.
  • Competent Personnel: The OSH Act emphasizes ensuring the availability of expertise and competence in health and safety matters within the organization.
  • Training and Information: Employees must receive proper training and information on workplace safety hazards and safe work practices.
  • Consultation: The Act mandates consultation with workers and their representatives on health and safety matters.
  • Provision of PPE: Employers are responsible for providing personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary.

Employee Rights

The OSH Act also empowers employees with the right to a safe and healthy work environment. Key employee rights include:

  • Refusal of Unsafe Work: Employees have the right to refuse work they believe to be unsafe or unhealthy, provided they have reasonable justification.
  • Participation in OSH Measures: Employees can participate in consultations on health and safety matters and raise concerns with their employer or the Labour Department.
  • Access to Information and Training: Employees have the right to access information and receive training on workplace hazards and safe work practices.

Enforcement Agencies

The Ministry of Labour's Labour Department is the primary agency responsible for enforcing the OSH Act. They conduct inspections, investigate complaints, and hold employers accountable for non-compliance.

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