Employment and Leave Laws in the Bahamas
Largely owing to its thriving tourism industry, the Bahamas has an inviting economy that makes this island country a great place in which to work and invest. The labor force participation rate for both men and women is quite high, and the government has designed comprehensive legislation to maintain favorable work conditions at all times. Here, we have outlined basic employment and leave laws in the Bahamas that foreign employers need to know.
All local and international firms operating in the Bahamas must give preference for job vacancies to native workers. If an employer wishes to hire a non-Bahamian, they must first seek approval from the Department of Labor. Permission will only be granted if no suitably qualified Bahamians are available for the post.
It is prohibited to hire a child except for the jobs listed in Schedule 1 of the Employment Act of 2001, such as on ships, except the ones where only the family members of the person are employed, or the ones that travel within the waters of the Bahamas. Part XII of the same Act also forbids employers from requesting potential employees to take a lie detector test or furnish a set of their fingerprints as part of the recruitment criteria.
The country has a government-mandated minimum pay rate of 210 Bahamian dollars per week. The normal weekly working time is 40 hours. While the daily working hours can differ based on the nature of the job, the country mostly follows the usual 9-5 work schedule.
By law, any employee working for more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day is entitled to overtime pay. This should be one and a half times their regular pay or twice their normal pay rate if they are working overtime on a public holiday.
Employees who have served in an organization for twelve consecutive months can avail a minimum of two weeks of paid vacation leave. The amount of pay is determined by the total duration for which the employee has worked for their employer. Employees who have worked for:
- 1 to 7 years are entitled to two weeks of pay.
- More than 7 years are entitled to three weeks of pay.
- More than 90 days, but less than a year, are entitled to pay on a pro-rata basis.
Employees who are unable to work due to an illness have a right to claim sick pay. The duration of sick leave is one week per year, and it cannot be rolled over or claimed in cash if it is not used within a period of 12 months. Individuals have a right to sick leave only if they have served the said organization for a minimum of six months.
Female workers are entitled to maternity leave if they have been working for the employer for more than twelve weeks. The maternity leave lasts for a total of nine weeks and can only be availed once every three years.
To learn more about global compliance and labor considerations in the Bahamas, click here