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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Drug Trafficking law in Trinidad and Tobago

Q: What is the sentence for drug trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago?

A: According to Section 5(5) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1991:

"...a person who commits the offence of trafficking in a dangerous drug or of being in possession of a dangerous drug for the purpose of trafficking is liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine of one hundred thousand dollars or, where there is evidence of the street value of the dangerous drug, three times the street value of the dangerous drug, whichever is greater, and to imprisonment for a term of twenty-five years to life."

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Employment Rights: Constructive Dismissal

Q: Can I be fired with immediate effect?

A: Part 4

When an employee is forced to quit because of intolerable behaviour by an employer, it is called Constructive Dismissal. In order to prove this, the employee must show that:

1. The employer committed a serious breach of contract
2. He/She felt forced to leave because of that breach
3. He/She did not do anything to suggest acceptance of the breach, or change in employment conditions

Examples of Constructive Dismissal:

1. Not supporting managers in difficult work situations.

2. Harassing or humiliating staff, particularly in front of other less senior staff.

3. Victimising or targeting particular members of staff.

4. Changing the employee's job content or terms without consultation.

5. Making a significant change in the employee's job location at short notice.

6. Falsely accusing an employee of misconduct; e.g. theft or being incompetent

7. Excessive demotion or disciplining of employees

8. Failing to provide a safe place of work

9. Cutting - or trying to cut - an employee's wages or salary or other contractual benefits without their agreement

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Employment Rights: Unfair Dismissal

Q: Can I be fired with immediate effect?

A: Part 3

Unfair dismissal occurs when an employee can prove that the reason for the dismissal, or the process used to dismiss them was "unfair". So obviously, the question you're asking at this point is...

What constitutes Unfair Dismissal?
A - The employer dismisses the employee without a fair reason as listed below:
    1. Gross Misconduct
    2. A reason related to the employee's capability or lack of qualifications
    3. Retirement of the employee
    4. Redundancy
    5. A legal requirement prevents the employment continuing (e.g., the employee is employed as a driver but no longer holds a driving license)

B - The employer fails to follow the correct dismissal process
    1. Sending a letter
    2. Arranging a meeting
    3. Telling you their decision
    4. Allowing an appeal

C - The employer dismisses the employee for an automatically unfair reason.

Automatically Unfair Dismissal
There is NO defence to an automatically unfair dismissal, which can include:
1.) Dismissal for asserting a statutory employment right

2.) Unfair dismissal before, during or after business transfers

3.) Discrimination

4.) Unfair retirement

5.) Dismissal in violation of pregnancy/maternity rights

6.) Dismissal following a failure to comply with statutory disciplinary or grievance procedures

7.) Unfair dismissal related to working patterns & time

8.) Unfair dismissal for an issue related to trade unions

9.) Unfair dismissal during an industrial dispute

10.) Dismissal for a reason connected to the National Minimum Wage

11.) Dismissal relating to activities as an occupational pension scheme trustee

12.) Dismissal for taking legitimate steps to ensure the observance of health and safety work place requirements

13.) Dismissal for carrying out the functions of an elected employee representative or candidate for election or taking part in an election

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Employment Rights: Wrongful Dismissal

Q: Can I be fired with immediate effect?

A: Part 2

An employer can terminate an employee's contract at any time for any legitimate reason, provided that they give the employee reasonable notice or compensation in lieu of reasonable notice. This means that the employee must be given minimum notice equivalent to the pay period; i.e., a weekly paid worker would require 1-2 weeks* and a monthly paid employee would require 3-4 or more* depending on the length of service. The employer also has the option of firing this employee on the spot and paying them for the notice period.

Wrongful Dismissal involves a breach of contract or the law regarding the contract as stated above. In other words, the "wrongful" is only associated with the WAY in which the employee was terminated, not the REASON for the termination.

Wrongful dismissal occurs when an employee is dismissed without notice; too short notice; contrary to the terms in the employment contract; or 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", according to Section 10(5) of the Industrial Relations Act 1972, as amended.

*N.B. - A shorter notice period may be used if it can be justified.

There is NO QUALIFYING PERIOD for Wrongful Dismissal, so an employee can bring a claim for this at anytime during employment.