The economy is tough these days especially following the pandemic. It’s hard enough to find a decent job if you have been laid off. Mention the fact that you have been fired makes your chances slim to impossible of finding a better job.
However, it’s one thing to be fired because you didn’t perform well, or you were lazy and were given plenty of warnings to pull your act together. In fact, even one or two warnings usually suffice. The real problem arises when you have been terminated without receiving a single warning.
Although it sounds unusual, the fact is that it has happened and continues to do so—thereby begging a question. What does the Trinidad and Tobago law say about this?
Well, to be fair, law jargon has most of us shaking our heads. Sometimes, it’s impossible to weave through the intricacies and the complex vocabulary. And in the off chance that you do, there are so many clauses and sections that contradict what you think you have understood. Not to worry. We’re here to break it down for you.
According to Section 10 (5) Trinidad and Tobago Industrial Relations Act 1972, a wrongful dismissal occurs when “a worker has been dismissed in circumstances that are harsh and oppressive or not in accordance with the principles of good industrial relations practice.” It applies when an employee has been dismissed with short notice or no notice at all.
In addition to being fired with a warning, the following factors can also help you decide if you have been a victim of wrongful dismissal:
- Not justification for termination
- Not allowing the worker to speak in his defense—thereby treating them like a commodity
- Not following the clauses of the contract
- Not paid adequately
- The employer using some unknown disciplinary code that is not part of the contract to justify the dismissal
Under the National labor Law of Trinidad and Tobago, if a person wants to attain the benefits offered by the IRA, they have to be defined as a worker. The definition of the worker includes among others, “any person who has entered into or works under a contract with an employer to do any skilled, unskilled manual, technical, clerical or other work for hire or reward, or partly oral and partly in writing.”
However, bear in mind that an employer does have the right to terminate you from your job for any legitimate reasons if they follow the clauses set out in the contract. This means giving you a warning or offering you a reasonable notice period or giving you compensation in some way. If you are a weekly worker, your employer should give you 1-2 weeks of the notice period and if you are a monthly worker, your employer needs to give you 3 to 4 weeks of the notice period. The employer also reserves the right to fire you on the spot if you are appropriately compensated. Outside of that results in wrongful dismissal and you can sue your employer.
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