Sint Maarten: New Employment Rights May Take Effect This Year

 

By Roger James, Thies Leijsen and Daniëlla Engelhardt © 2018 Ogletree Deakins March 30, 2018
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​Proposed amendments to the Civil Code of St. Maarten are aimed at enhancing employment rights in the areas of pregnancy and maternity leave, fixed-term employment contracts, business transfers, gender equality and noncompete clauses. The new changes are expected to become law at some stage during 2018.

Pregnancy and Maternity Leave

Under current law, pregnancy leave can be four to six weeks before the estimated due date, and maternity leave can be six to eight weeks from the date the employee gave birth. The total amount of time on leave must be at least 12 weeks. The proposed amendment increases the total minimum amount of pregnancy and maternity leave combined from 12 to 14 weeks, two to seven weeks of which can be pregnancy leave and a minimum of six weeks' maternity leave taken after the birth.

Short-Term Contracts

Currently, a fourth consecutive fixed-term contract—for a total period of time exceeding 36 months—results in the contract automatically converting to a permanent contract, subject to some conditions about gaps between contracts. The new law will reduce this to two contracts over 24 months.

Business Transfers

At the moment, if an employee is dismissed on a business transfer, an obligation to make a severance payment to the employee exists. The proposed amendment to the Civil Code would also trigger an obligation to pay severance when an employee decides to end the employment contract due to substantial changes as a result of the transfer of the company.

Gender Equality and Noncompete Clauses

Finally, the proposed amendments of the Civil Code will introduce more articles that prohibit employers from discriminating based on gender and will forbid noncompete provisions in employment contracts.

Comment

Many in the business community are concerned about what they see as the increased costs to business that this reform will cause at a time when both the government and businesses on the island are financially struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Roger James is an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in London. This article was co-authored by Thies Leijsen and Daniëlla Engelhardt at VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne. © 2018 Ogletree Deakins. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.

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