Rivermate | Dominican Republic flag

Dominican Republic

Employment Agreement Essentials

Understand the key elements of employment contracts in Dominican Republic

Types of employment agreements

In the Dominican Republic, labor laws provide a structure for various employment agreements, defining the rights and obligations of both employers and employees. The three main types of employment contracts are as follows:

Indefinite-Term Employment Contracts (Contratos por Tiempo Indefinido)

Indefinite-term employment contracts are the most prevalent type of employment agreement in the Dominican Republic. These contracts do not have a predetermined end date and continue indefinitely until either party terminates them through a mutual agreement or under specific circumstances outlined in the Labor Code.

These circumstances include:

  • Desahucio: This refers to an at-will termination, where either the employer or employee can end the contract without cause, but with a mandatory notice period provided to the other party.
  • Dismissal (Despido): This allows the employer to terminate the contract with cause, as outlined in the Labor Code. In such cases, no notice period is required, and the employee is not entitled to severance pay.
  • Resignation with Cause (Dimisión Justificada): This allows the employee to terminate the contract due to employer misconduct or violation of their rights as outlined in the Labor Code.

Although indefinite-term contracts do not require a written agreement, it's recommended to have one for clarity and to document the agreed-upon terms and conditions.

Fixed-Term Employment Contracts (Contratos a Término Fijo)

Fixed-term employment contracts specify a predetermined end date for the employment relationship. They are typically used for temporary projects, seasonal positions, or specific tasks. The Labor Code requires fixed-term contracts to be established in writing at the latest when the employee begins their work.

There are limitations on renewing fixed-term contracts consecutively. Dominican law aims to prevent employers from using them as a way to avoid the legal obligations associated with indefinite-term contracts.

Pre-Determined Work or Service Agreements (Contratos para Obra Determinada o Servicio Determinado)

Pre-determined work or service agreements are similar to fixed-term contracts, but they are based on the completion of a specific task or project rather than a set timeframe. Once the predetermined work is finished, the contract automatically terminates.

Essential clauses

In Dominican Republic, written employment agreements are recommended, particularly for indefinite-term contracts. Here are some essential clauses to consider:

Identification of Parties

Include the full names and identification numbers (cédulas) of both the employer and employee.

Job Description and Responsibilities

Clearly outline the employee's job title, duties, and responsibilities.

Work Location and Schedule

Specify the employee's primary work location and regular working hours.

Compensation and Benefits

Detail the employee's salary or wage structure, including frequency of payment and any additional benefits offered such as vacation pay, bonuses, and health insurance.

Termination Clause

Explain the procedures for termination, including notice periods required by law for desahucio (at-will termination) and potential severance pay.

Intellectual Property

Stipulate ownership rights over any intellectual property created by the employee during their employment.

Dispute Resolution

Outline the process for resolving any disagreements arising from the employment contract.

Probationary period

The Dominican Labor Code recognizes the use of probationary periods (periodo de prueba) in employment agreements. These periods provide employers with the opportunity to evaluate an employee's suitability for a role before committing to a long-term contract.

Legality and Limitations

The Labor Code sets certain restrictions on the application of probationary periods:

  • Maximum Duration: The maximum duration for a probationary period is three months. This applies to all types of employment contracts.
  • Mandatory Written Agreement: The terms of the probationary period, including its duration, must be explicitly established in writing within the employment agreement.

Termination During Probation

  • Employer-Initiated Termination: During the probationary period, employers can terminate the employment relationship without cause and without severance pay obligations. However, they must still provide written notice to the employee, as outlined in the agreement.
  • Employee-Initiated Termination: Employees can also terminate the contract during the probation period, but with a shorter notice period compared to a regular termination. The specific notice period should be outlined in the employment agreement.

Probationary Period Not Mandatory

It's important to note that a probationary period is not mandatory in Dominican employment contracts. Employers can choose to forego including it altogether or establish a shorter period within the three-month limit.

Conversion to Indefinite-Term Contract

If the employment relationship continues beyond the established probationary period without any termination, the contract automatically converts into an indefinite-term contract, granting the employee the associated rights and protections under Dominican labor law.

Confidentiality and non compete clauses

Confidentiality clauses are a common feature in employment agreements in the Dominican Republic. They are designed to safeguard an employer's confidential information, which could encompass trade secrets, client lists, and proprietary processes. Dominican law permits employers to incorporate confidentiality provisions into employment contracts.

Confidential information can vary depending on the company and the nature of the employee's work. However, it typically includes:

  • Trade secrets: Information that provides a business with a competitive edge and is safeguarded by reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.
  • Client lists and other business data.
  • Customer information.
  • Unpublished inventions and processes.

Dominican courts will uphold confidentiality clauses provided they are reasonable and do not infringe on the employee's constitutional right to work. The clause should unambiguously define what is considered confidential information and the duration of the confidentiality obligation post-employment.

The legal framework surrounding non-compete clauses in the Dominican Republic is less defined. There are no specific laws regulating these clauses, and there is limited case law regarding their enforceability.

The Dominican Republic's constitution guarantees the freedom of work, which could potentially conflict with restrictions on an employee's capacity to secure new employment post-departure from a company. This makes it challenging for employers to enforce non-compete clauses in court.

Despite the difficulty in enforcing non-compete clauses in court, Dominican employers can still incorporate them into employment agreements. Here are some measures employers can take:

  • Clearly define the scope of the non-compete clause, including the geographic area and duration of the restriction.
  • Restrict the clause to the protection of legitimate business interests, such as trade secrets or client relationships.
  • Offer compensation to the employee in return for agreeing to the non-compete clause.
Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

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