Rivermate | Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba flag

Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Employment Agreement Essentials

Understand the key elements of employment contracts in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Types of employment agreements

In the BES islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, the legal system recognizes various types of employment agreements.

Fixed-Term Contracts (Voorovereenkomst)

Fixed-term contracts are those that specify a start and end date for the employment period. These are often used for project-based work or temporary positions. The Law on Secondment of Workers BES (Wet allocatie arbeidskrachten BES) provides the regulations for these contracts.

Permanent Contracts (Arbeidsovereenkomst voor onbepaalde tijd)

Permanent contracts, in contrast to fixed-term ones, do not have a pre-defined end date, offering greater job security to the employee. The Civil Code of BES (Burgerlijk Wetboek BES) provides the basis for these contracts.

Trial Contracts (Proeftijdbeding)

Both fixed-term and permanent contracts can include a trial period (proeftijdbeding) at the beginning of the employment. This allows both the employer and employee to assess suitability before full commitment. The maximum duration of a trial period is outlined in the Landsverordening minimumloon en minimumvakantievergoeding BES (National Ordinance Minimum Wage and Minimum Vacation Allowance BES).

Zero-Hour Contracts (Nul-urencontract)

Zero-hour contracts do not guarantee any hours of work. Employees are called upon as needed by the employer. While specific regulations for zero-hour contracts are yet to be established in BES labor law, general contract law principles from the Civil Code of BES would apply.

Essential clauses

Crafting a comprehensive employment agreement in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (BES islands) requires including essential clauses that clearly define the terms of employment. Here's a breakdown of key elements:

Parties to the Agreement

The agreement should clearly identify the employer and employee, including their full names and contact information. This is a fundamental aspect of any contract and aligns with general contract law principles enshrined in the Civil Code of BES (Burgerlijk Wetboek BES).

Job Description and Duties

The employee's job title, a detailed description of their responsibilities, and any supervisory roles they may hold should be outlined. This clarity helps manage expectations and potential disputes. The Civil Code of BES upholds the principle of good faith (redelijkheid en billijkheid) in contract execution, and a well-defined job description fosters this.

Compensation and Benefits

The employee's gross salary, payment frequency, and any applicable allowances or bonuses should be specified. The National Ordinance Minimum Wage and Minimum Vacation Allowance BES (Landsverordening minimumloon en minimumvakantievergoeding BES) dictates minimum wage requirements.

Working Hours and Leave

The standard workweek, including daily working hours, overtime arrangements, and breaks should be defined. The Landsverordening minimumloon en minimumvakantievergoeding BES also establishes minimum vacation leave entitlements.


The grounds and notice periods for termination by either party should be outlined, adhering to the fair dismissal principles outlined in the Civil Code of BES. Specific clauses around termination for fixed-term contracts can be included, referencing the Law on Secondment of Workers BES (Wet allocatie arbeidskrachten BES) if applicable.

Dispute Resolution

A process for resolving any disagreements arising from the employment relationship should be established. This might involve internal mediation or recourse to the labor court. The Civil Code of BES outlines general dispute resolution mechanisms.

Probationary period

The probationary period, also known as proeftijdbeding, is a common feature in employment agreements within Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (BES islands). It provides a window for both employers and employees to assess suitability during the initial phase of employment.

Benefits of a Probationary Period

Employers can evaluate an employee's skills, work ethic, and cultural fit within the organization during the probation period. This allows for informed decisions regarding permanent employment. On the other hand, employees can assess if the job aligns with their expectations and if the company culture is a good fit.

The legal framework for probationary periods in BES islands is established by the National Ordinance Minimum Wage and Minimum Vacation Allowance BES. The key points include a maximum duration of two months for a probationary period, ensuring a fair assessment window while protecting employees from extended uncertainty. Additionally, a probationary period must be explicitly agreed upon in writing within the employment agreement.

Termination During Probation

Both employers and employees have the right to terminate the employment relationship during the probation period with a shorter notice period compared to permanent contracts. This aligns with the Civil Code of BES principles of good faith in contract termination. During this initial period, neither party is obligated to provide a reason for termination. However, general principles of fair conduct from the Civil Code of BES would still apply.


Including a probationary period is not mandatory in BES employment agreements. Employers and employees can choose to forgo it if mutually agreed. Clearly outlining the terms of the probationary period, including its duration and termination rights, fosters a transparent employment relationship.

Confidentiality and non compete clauses

Employment agreements in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (BES islands) often incorporate confidentiality and non-compete clauses. These clauses are designed to protect sensitive business information and prevent unfair competition after the termination of employment.

H3 Confidentiality Clauses

Confidentiality clauses are designed to protect an employer's confidential information. This can include trade secrets, client lists, or marketing strategies. The Civil Code of BES (Burgerlijk Wetboek BES) recognizes intellectual property rights, and confidentiality clauses support their protection. These clauses typically outline the specific information considered confidential, how employees should handle it, and the duration of these obligations after employment ends.

H3 Enforceability

For confidentiality clauses to be enforceable, the scope of confidential information must be clearly defined and reasonable. Courts are unlikely to uphold restrictions that are overly broad and limit an employee's ability to use their general knowledge and skills.

H3 Non-Compete Clauses

Non-compete clauses restrict an employee's ability to work for a competitor or start their own competing business after leaving the company. These clauses are less common in BES employment agreements compared to confidentiality clauses. Due to potential limitations on an employee's ability to earn a living, BES courts will likely scrutinize non-compete clauses strictly. These clauses need to be narrowly tailored to protect legitimate business interests and be limited geographically and temporally.

H3 Considerations

Employers seeking to protect their interests might consider alternatives like confidentiality clauses or restrictions on soliciting clients or employees during employment. Given the potential complexities, it's advisable for both employers and employees to seek legal advice when considering confidentiality and non-compete clauses in BES employment agreements.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.