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Employee Rights and Protections

Explore workers' rights and legal protections in Curaçao


Curacao's labor laws provide a well-structured framework for employment termination, ensuring the rights of both employees and employers are protected.

Lawful Grounds for Dismissal

In Curacao, an employer cannot terminate an employment contract without valid reasons. These reasons can be categorized into:

  • Urgent Reasons (Immediate Dismissal): This includes serious misconduct by the employee such as theft, violence, or gross negligence.
  • Termination with Permission from the Directorate of Labor Affairs: This can be due to economic grounds like company reorganization or redundancy, the employee's incapacity or unsuitability for the job, or a disrupted relationship between the employer and employee.
  • Dissolution by the Court: This occurs when there is a significant change in circumstances that makes it unreasonable to continue the employment relationship.

Notice Requirements

Unless it's an immediate dismissal, employers are required to provide notice before terminating an employment contract. The duration of the notice period depends on the employee's length of service:

  • Less than 5 years of service: 1 month
  • 5 to 10 years of service: 2 months
  • 10 to 15 years of service: 3 months
  • More than 15 years of service: 4 months

Severance Pay

In certain termination scenarios, the employer may be required to pay severance to the employee. If the termination is due to economic reasons, the employee's unsuitability, or a disrupted relationship, the employer might have to pay severance. The amount is usually calculated based on the length of service and salary.

Important Considerations

  • Mutual Consent: The employer and employee can mutually agree to terminate the employment contract at any time with negotiated terms and conditions.
  • National Ordinance Termination Employment Agreements (Landsverordening Beëindiging Arbeidsovereenkomst): This ordinance is the main legislation governing employment termination in Curacao. It details the grounds for dismissal, notice periods, and other relevant regulations.
  • Directorate of Labor Affairs (SOAW): In most cases of termination, the employer must obtain prior permission from the SOAW (Ministerie van Sociale Ontwikkeling, Arbeid en Welzijn) to proceed with the termination process.


Curacao has a comprehensive legal structure in place to combat discrimination and ensure equal opportunities for everyone. The Curaçao Criminal Code specifically prohibits discrimination on various grounds including race, skin color, gender, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, heterosexual or homosexual orientation, marital status, disability, age, origin, and nationality.

Seeking Redress

If you experience discrimination in Curacao, there are several avenues for seeking redress:

  • File a complaint with the police: Discrimination can be reported to the police as a criminal offense.
  • Contact the Ombudsman: The Ombudsman of Curacao investigates complaints of discrimination and maladministration by government bodies.
  • Bring a civil lawsuit: Victims of discrimination can file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator to seek compensation or other remedies.

Responsibilities of Employers

Employers in Curacao have a legal obligation to prevent and address discrimination in the workplace. This includes:

  • Creating anti-discrimination policies: Employers must implement clear policies outlining prohibited discriminatory conduct and the consequences of violation.
  • Providing training: Employers are required to educate employees about discrimination laws and promote a culture of inclusion and respect.
  • Investigating complaints promptly: All complaints of discrimination must be taken seriously and thorough investigations must be conducted.
  • Taking remedial action: Appropriate disciplinary measures must be implemented against those found to have engaged in discriminatory behavior.

Working conditions

In Curacao, specific regulations are upheld to ensure a healthy and productive work environment. These standards encompass working hours, rest periods, and ergonomic considerations.

Work Hours

  • Maximum Weekly Hours: The maximum legal workweek in Curacao is 45 hours. This can be extended to 55 hours per week, including overtime, with written consent from the employee.
  • Overtime: Overtime work requires compensation at a rate of at least 50% above the regular wage.
  • Daily Rest: Employees must be granted a minimum uninterrupted rest period of 11 hours between workdays.

Rest Periods

  • Daily Breaks: Employees are entitled to a minimum rest break of one hour after working for five consecutive hours. This break can be split into two periods, with one period being at least half an hour.

Ergonomic Requirements

While there isn't a single codified regulation on ergonomics in Curacao, general occupational health and safety principles are mandated by the Arbeidstoezicht (Labor Inspection Department). These principles include:

  • Employers have a duty of care to provide a safe and healthy work environment, which includes ergonomic considerations.
  • The Labor Inspection Department conducts workplace inspections to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations, including ergonomic factors.

Health and safety

In Curacao, the well-being of workers is a priority, and this is reflected in the health and safety regulations mandated in workplaces. These regulations define the responsibilities of employers, the rights of employees, and the bodies responsible for enforcement.

Employer Obligations

Employers in Curacao have a significant duty to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Here are some key obligations:

  • Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Employers must conduct risk assessments to identify potential hazards in the workplace and implement measures to prevent accidents and illnesses.
  • Safe Work Practices: Employers must establish and enforce safe work practices through training and clear procedures.
  • Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers are obligated to provide necessary PPEs relevant to the specific work environment.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Employers must have a plan in place to handle emergencies, including fire drills and evacuation procedures.

Employee Rights

Employees in Curacao possess fundamental rights regarding health and safety at work:

  • Right to a Safe Work Environment: Employees have the right to work in an environment free from foreseeable risks to their health and safety.
  • Refusal of Unsafe Work: Employees have the right to refuse work they believe is unsafe, without fear of retribution.
  • Access to Training and Information: Employees have the right to receive training and information on health and safety hazards specific to their job role.

Enforcement Agencies

The responsibility for enforcing health and safety regulations in Curacao falls under two primary entities:

  • Arbeidstoezicht (Labor Inspection Department): This government department conducts workplace inspections to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. They have the authority to issue fines and require corrective actions.
  • Social and Health Insurance Department (SVB): The SVB plays a role in ensuring health and safety by monitoring workplace accidents and illnesses. They can investigate incidents and collaborate with the Labor Inspection Department.
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