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Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Termination and Severance Policies

Learn about the legal processes for employee termination and severance in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba

Notice period

In Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, also known as the BES islands, there are specific legal requirements for notice periods that employers must follow when ending an employment contract. These requirements are part of the civil law code that applies to the BES islands.

Notice Periods Based on Length of Employment

The length of the notice period that employers must give is determined by the duration of the employee's service. Here's a summary of the minimum notice periods:

  • For less than five years of employment, the notice period is one month.
  • For five to ten years of employment, the notice period is two months.
  • For ten to fifteen years of employment, the notice period is three months.
  • For more than fifteen years of employment, the notice period is four months.

Additional Points to Consider

  • The above-mentioned periods are the minimum required notice periods. A collective labor agreement may specify a longer notice period.
  • The notice period can only be shortened through a collective labor agreement, not by an individual employment contract.
  • In certain situations where termination is approved by the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, the term of the dismissal permit procedure may be deducted from the notice period. However, the remaining notice period must still be at least one month.

Severance pay

Employees in the BES Islands, which include Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, may be eligible for severance pay, also known as a transition payment, when their employment is terminated involuntarily. The legal framework regarding severance pay in these islands is covered in the Civil Code of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, and the Dismissal Ordinance BES.

Eligibility for Severance Pay

Employees are entitled to severance pay if their employment is terminated due to involuntary reasons, such as company restructuring or economic circumstances. Employees with a minimum of two years of continuous service are eligible for severance pay. However, there are exceptions, like in the case of termination due to the employee's serious misconduct.

Calculation of Severance Pay

The severance pay calculation follows a specific formula. For the first 10 years of service, it's 1 week's pay for each year of service. For the 11th to 20th year of service, it's 1.25 week's pay for each year of service. For those with over 20 years of service, it's 1.5 week's pay for each year of service. The weekly wage used in the calculation is the average wage during the last three months of employment.

Additional Information

Severance pay is intended to support the employee during their job search. It is generally due within one month of the employment termination date. Employers who fail to pay severance may be subject to penalties.

Termination process

The termination of employment contracts in the BES islands is primarily governed by the Termination of Employment Agreements Act BES. The BES islands generally follow an at-will employment model, meaning that both employers and employees can terminate the employment relationship for any reason or no reason at all, as long as they comply with the legal termination procedures. Termination based on discrimination (e.g., race, religion, gender, pregnancy, disability) or in retaliation for exercising legal rights is strictly prohibited.

Methods of Termination

There are several ways to terminate an employment agreement in the BES islands:

Termination by Giving Notice

An employer can terminate an employment agreement by giving written notice to the employee. The employer must obtain prior approval from the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

Termination by Mutual Consent

The employer and employee can mutually agree to terminate the employment relationship at any time. This form of termination is recommended to have a written agreement outlining the terms of the separation for clarity and avoiding disputes.

Immediate Termination (Dismissal for Urgent Cause)

Both the employer and employee can immediately terminate the employment relationship for "urgent cause" under limited and well-defined circumstances. Examples include serious misconduct, gross negligence, or a fundamental breach of the employment contract. No prior notice or Ministerial approval is required for immediate termination.

Procedural Requirements

Any termination, whether by notice, mutual consent, or urgent cause, should ideally be in writing with clear dates and any relevant terms. In most cases, the employer is expected to provide the employee with valid reasons or justification for the termination.

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