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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Cuba


In Cuba, employment termination is not as straightforward as the "at-will" termination common in some countries. Cuban employment laws restrict an employer's ability to dismiss a worker without cause or due process.

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

The Cuban Labor Code outlines specific grounds for which an employer can lawfully terminate an employee's contract. These include:

  • Loss of Suitability: The employee demonstrates a consistent inability to meet the necessary qualifications for their position.
  • Relocation: The employee is permanently relocated outside the company's area of operation, or they refuse a justifiable offer for a similar position in another location.
  • Expiration of Temporary Contract: A fixed-term contract ends, or the specific project it was related to is completed.
  • Severe Misconduct: This may include acts like theft, violence, or serious violations of workplace rules.

Notice Requirements

Cuban labor law mandates that employers provide notice before terminating an employment contract:

  • Indefinite Contracts: Requires 30 days' notice.
  • Temporary Contracts: Requires 15 days' notice.

Severance Pay

Employees in Cuba are entitled to severance payments upon termination under specific circumstances. The amount of severance pay is often proportional to the duration of service with the employer:

  • Termination due to unsuitability or relocation: Employees are entitled to severance pay.
  • Expiration of a temporary contract: Employees might get severance under certain conditions outlined in the contract or collective agreement.
  • Severe Misconduct: An employee may forfeit their right to severance pay.

Additional Considerations

  • Devolución: Cuba has a unique process called "devolución" where instead of being 'fired', an employee may be returned to a hiring pool managed by the state.
  • Worker Protections: Cuban labor law strongly emphasizes worker protections. Disputes over termination often involve labor tribunals or worker representation.


In Cuba, the Constitution and specific legal codes provide a robust framework designed to combat discrimination and promote equality.

Protected Characteristics

Cuba's anti-discrimination laws protect individuals from discrimination based on several characteristics:

  • Race and Skin Color: The Cuban Constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination on these grounds.
  • Gender: The Constitution enshrines equal rights and opportunities for men and women.
  • National Origin: Discrimination based on place of origin is prohibited.
  • Disability: Cuban laws seek to provide equal opportunities and integration for persons with disabilities.
  • Sexual Orientation: While not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution, Cuba's Labor Code prohibits discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation.
  • Other Factors: Cuban law also prohibits discrimination based on factors like age, religious beliefs, and political opinions.

Redress Mechanisms

Cuba offers several avenues for individuals who have experienced discrimination:

  • Labor Tribunals: Employees can file complaints with labor tribunals regarding discrimination in the workplace.
  • National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX): This organization plays a role in advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and addressing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Public Prosecutor's Office: Individuals can file discrimination complaints with the Public Prosecutor's Office.

Employer Responsibilities

Cuban employers have specific responsibilities under anti-discrimination laws:

  • Preventing Discrimination: Employers must create a work environment free from discrimination and harassment.
  • Implementing Policies: Establish clear policies that outline anti-discrimination principles and procedures for addressing complaints.
  • Education and Training: Provide employees with education and training on anti-discrimination laws and how to promote a respectful workplace.
  • Addressing Complaints: Promptly and thoroughly investigate all discrimination complaints and take appropriate disciplinary action if necessary.

While Cuba has a strong legal framework for anti-discrimination, challenges in implementation and enforcement may still exist.

Working conditions

In Cuba, regulations have been established to ensure minimum standards for work hours, rest periods, and ergonomic considerations.

Work Hours

The Cuban Labor Code mandates a maximum 44-hour workweek, typically spread across five days. Overtime work is permitted under specific circumstances, with limitations on the total number of overtime hours allowed. Overtime pay is mandated by law.

Rest Periods

Workers are legally entitled to a rest period of at least 30 minutes within the workday, typically for lunch. Sundays are generally considered rest days, with some exceptions in specific sectors.

Ergonomic Requirements

Cuban workplace safety regulations address ergonomic factors. These include workstation design, proper equipment, and workplace hazards. Regulations promote workstation layouts that minimize physical strain and fatigue. Employers are required to provide suitable equipment that considers ergonomic principles. Regulations mandate the identification and mitigation of ergonomic hazards in the workplace.

Health and safety

Cuba prioritizes worker well-being through a comprehensive framework of health and safety regulations.

Employer Obligations

Cuban employers hold significant responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. Their obligations include:

  • Risk Prevention: Employers must proactively identify and mitigate potential hazards in the workplace.
  • Safety Training: Providing employees with adequate training on safety procedures and hazard awareness is mandatory.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers must furnish necessary PPE to safeguard workers from specific job-related risks.
  • Medical Checkups: Regular medical checkups for employees, as outlined by regulations, are employer responsibilities.
  • OSH Manuals: Each workplace requires a customized health and safety manual outlining specific risk mitigation plans.

Employee Rights

Cuban workers enjoy a range of health and safety rights:

  • Right to a Safe Workplace: Employees have the legal right to work in an environment free from foreseeable risks to their health and safety.
  • Refusal of Unsafe Work: Employees can refuse to perform work tasks they believe are genuinely dangerous until the situation is rectified.
  • Participation: Workers have the right to participate in discussions and decision-making processes concerning workplace health and safety.
  • Reporting Unsafe Conditions: Employees can report unsafe working conditions to relevant authorities without fear of retaliation.

Enforcement Agencies

Several entities play a role in enforcing health and safety regulations in Cuba:

  • Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS): The MTSS is the primary agency responsible for overseeing workplace health and safety standards.
  • National Center for Hygiene and Work (Centro Nacional de Higiene y Trabajo - CNHT): This technical entity provides guidance and conducts inspections related to occupational health hazards.
  • Trade Union Confederation of Cuba (CTC): The CTC plays a role in advocating for workers' health and safety rights and can raise concerns with government bodies.

While the legal framework for workplace health and safety is robust, challenges may exist in consistent enforcement across all industries.

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