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Vacation and Leave Policies

Understand the regulations on vacation and other types of leave in Belize

Holiday leave

In Belize, the Labour Act (Chapter 297 of the Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2011) governs the entitlements related to vacation leave.

Annual Vacation Leave

According to Section 126 of the Labour Act, employees are entitled to two weeks (14 working days) of paid annual leave for each completed year of service. The eligibility for vacation leave comes into effect after an employee has completed one year of continuous service with an employer. The leave accrues throughout the working year, and employees can start availing it once they become eligible. The timing of vacation leave is generally determined by the employers. It is advisable for employers and employees to collaborate and schedule vacation time in a manner that caters to the needs of the business.

Important Considerations

Employers have the discretion to allow employees to carry over unused vacation leave to the subsequent year, often with certain limitations on how much can accrue. Employees who do not complete a full year of service are entitled to proportionate vacation leave based on the duration of their service.

Public holidays

Belize is known for its vibrant mix of national, cultural, and religious holidays celebrated throughout the year.

National Holidays

Belizeans celebrate several national holidays each year. These include:

  • New Year's Day (January 1): This day marks the start of the calendar year.
  • Baron Bliss Day (March 9): This holiday honors Baron Bliss, a benefactor of Belize.
  • Labor Day (May 1): This day celebrates the contributions of workers and the labor movement.
  • Sovereign's Day (Commonwealth Day): Celebrated on the Monday closest to May 24th, this holiday commemorates Queen Victoria's birthday.
  • National Day (St. George's Caye Day - September 10): This day commemorates the Battle of St. George's Caye in 1798.
  • Independence Day (September 21): This day marks Belize's independence from the United Kingdom in 1981.
  • Pan American Day (Columbus Day - October 12): This day is observed as a day of cultural exchange and exploration.
  • Garifuna Settlement Day (November 19): This day celebrates the arrival of the Garifuna people in Belize.
  • Christmas Day (December 25): This day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Boxing Day (December 26): Traditionally a day for giving gifts to service workers, now observed as an additional holiday.

Religious Holidays (with variable dates)

Belize also observes several religious holidays with variable dates. These include:

  • Good Friday: This day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
  • Easter Monday: This is the day after Easter Sunday.

Types of leave

In Belize, the Labour Act is the primary legislation governing leave entitlements.

Annual Vacation Leave

According to Section 126 of the Labour Act, employees are entitled to two weeks (14 working days) of paid annual leave for every completed year of service. Employees become eligible for this leave after one year of continuous service with the same employer.

Sick Leave

As per Section 132 of the Labour Act, employees are entitled to up to 16 days of paid sick leave per year after completing one year of service. Employers may require a medical certificate to substantiate sick leave claims beyond three consecutive days.

Maternity Leave

Section 137 of the Labour Act states that female employees are entitled to 12 weeks (84 days) of paid maternity leave. To qualify, they typically need to have completed at least one year of service and have contributed to the Social Security Board.

Other Types of Leave

There are also other types of leave such as special leave and casual leave. Employees may be entitled to short leaves of absence for urgent matters, such as domestic emergencies or to fulfill obligations for trade unions or public service. The duration is negotiated between the employee and employer, and may be unpaid. Some employers may offer casual leave for personal reasons. The policies and entitlements usually vary per employer.

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