Friday, 5 July 2013

Continuous extension of Fixed-Term Contracts

Q: What happens when a fixed-term contract is being continuously renewed?

A: Employers usually use this tactic to deny employees of their rights because many employment rights and benefits require continuous employment for a certain amount of years. In Trinidad and Tobago, the government is the main offender. If this was a criminal offence, the government of Trinidad and Tobago would be public enemy #1.

However, despite this blatant attempt to deny rights of employees, employees will automatically achieve these rights in certain circumstances.

Extension (rolling-over) of contracts for a certain amount of times translates into what is called the right of expectation, which means that the employee will become a permanent employee - contract or not - and will begin to enjoy the rights as permanent employees. While there is not yet a set amount, it will usually begin after 4 years or the 4th renewal, whichever is sooner depending on contract lengths.

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While on this topic, I should also mention some things on the termination of fixed-term contracts. There is a popular belief, that employment AUTOMATICALLY ends when the contract expires, but this is NOT true. Usually, a fixed-term contract is used when there is a set piece of work to do. If that set piece of work has come to an end, the reason for non-renewal is likely to be redundancy, on the basis that the requirement for an employee to do the work has ceased or diminished.

However, if that is not the case, the dismissal can potentially be unfair if the employee has been hired for 12 months or more. Despite the contract "expiring", the reason for non-renewal MUST be a fair reason, and especially not due to an automatically unfair reason like pregnancy.

So everyone in T&T who did not have their contracts renewed when there was a change in government has a claim for unfair dismissal. I have heard that this is common practice in the country. Very sad. Very despicable.

51 comments:

  1. Where can I find information to support this?

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  2. ok so you said that the employee would become permanent after 4 years or 4th renewl.. What if the employee is on a month to month contract, how long would it take for them to be permanent with a company or agency under these circumstances???

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  3. I would also like to know..... I am employed with an agency who is on a yearly contract with a company. I suspect that i will be permanent with the agency and not the company but can the agency still have me on a contractual basis even after the 12 months have passed seeing that they are also on contract with the company or would i now just be permanent with the agency, and as long as they are under employment with the company, so would i be.... As well can i apply or am i obligated to a raise of pay from the agency after the 12 months even though my contract doesn't say anything about a raise of pay nor being permanent after a year???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're asking me questions that only the agency can answer.

      Delete
  4. ok... well is there a process that should be taken for me to claim for my permanent position???

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  5. I just wanted to share this case since I believe it is relevant to this topic. However, it shows exactly how long it takes to get justice in this country...which is very sad and most people who want to get on with their lives can't wait that long for cases like this to be heard and tried.

    HEADLINE: Former pharmacist Ameena Ali sues the NWRHA and wins her case 9 years later after her dismissal. She then becomes the newly appointed CEO of another RHA. http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,188094.html http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,24319.html

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  6. Hi I wanted to know if your pregnant and you got a call from the rha regional health aturity for a work you applied for before you were pregnant and you got the call for employment for yearly contract to work in health center being 5-6 months pregnant would I still be able to get my benefits seeing that I'd only be working a little over 3 months

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    Replies
    1. I don't think that is considered to be continuous employment, so I don't believe that you would be entitled to benefits.

      Delete
  7. Hi, I have been working for an agency and contracted to a specific company for over 4 years now without a break in contract (Contract was renewed a countless amount of times). In my original contract assignment it stated that they will hold talks about making me permanent with the specific company after 3 years of continuous service. I asked the agency about this and all they say is "things hard with the company". Am I entitled to be permanent? And if so what steps do I take because it seems like it's not an interest with both the agency or the company.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Courts have consistently upheld that permanency comes after 12 months of continuous service. Most people don't know that, so you will have an issue convincing your employer otherwise. Do you receive benefits such as holidays and vacation leave?

      Delete
    2. Yes I receive paid vacation and holidays. I also get paid sick leave.

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    3. So you main issue is job security? Explain to me what it is that you want information on.

      Delete
  8. Yes main issue is job security. I am still considered as a contract worker therefor it is hard for me to get loans etc. And I am currently working on the same salary which was offered to me when I took the job (2009). Can I take legal steps to ensure that the company makes me permanent? If so what are they?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You don't need a contract for a loan, you need a job letter. Get a job-letter stating your tenure...

      Delete
    2. In terms of my issue I just used loans as an example. My main issue here is permanency with the Client I am contracted to. For over 4 years I have been contracted by the agency to the client at the same salary. I am trying to get an increase or permanent with the client. What steps do I need to take?

      Delete
    3. Write to them. Express your concerns and suggest a remedy.

      Delete
  9. I am working with a company on a month to month contract for a year and 6 months. How long would it take to be permanent????
    Note - On the contract has TEMPORARILY printed on the bottom of each page.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good day,

    I have been employed in a government agency for the past 5 years. I got a 3 year contract first. Got another 1 year contract and now they are putting all contract workers on Month to Month. Which means not vacation and no sick leave. I have been on this month to month for about 10 months now and have to take no pay leave.

    Can you give the contract staff any advice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely.

      Go to: www.jbemploymentconsulting.com

      Delete
  11. Hi

    I have been employed with the rha since 2007. My 1st contract being 3mths, then 1yr thereafter, then 1yr after that and since then its been continuous. All my contracts state that am entitled to vacation, sick leave and casual leave. I took vacation the last two and a half years. I have taken casual leave in between. I applied for vacation this year october 2014 as every year I am told I have vacation days. Now I am told that I have no vacation whatsoever because I took casual and that every time I take casual it breaks my service. To my knowledge casual comes out your vacation as stated in my contract. Informing me that I now have to work pass and entire year to acquire vacation and I have loss my years of service. What can I do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Casual days does not break service. Have you used up more than your entitled vacation to date?

      There is no way you have lost your years of service. Send me a private e-mail, so we can talk further.

      Delete
  12. After reading some of the comments above I realise that I am in the same situation which is....for over 5 years I have been contracted by an agency to a client working with the same salary from since I was hired and still on a continuous contract. I have expressed my concerns to them about getting permanent status and a pay increase, I suggested solutions but they don't seem to care. I really want to get a move on with my life and I know that legal action can be taken for this case. Can you please indicate if I really can take legal action and if so what steps do I take?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sent an email.....can you confirm if you received it? Or maybe I have the wrong email address.

      Delete
    2. Can't recall seeing it. If you sent an e-mail without a subject line, it probably got ignored...

      Delete
  13. Hi, i have been emplyed for 2 years on fix term. I have seen people appointed in the same job as me as permanent yet i cannot get permanent employment. The company has a practise to hire fixed term an convert to permanent which is what i was told when i accepted the contract. I am the only person who was not converted to permanent. I am also the senior member of my team an the other members made permanent instead of me. I got a extension. Help.

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  14. Sent the email. Thank you for your time thus far.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Crime is crime, it normally works out itself...poetic justice. What employees need is an employer advisory. Ban the bad guys posting jobs on reputable internet sites...conning honest ppl...i better trademark that idea and publish ex-employees ordeals. Lose ability to re-hire and they will get the idea eventually! Golden rule could go back into effect some day...employers and employees unite to build the country pls

    ReplyDelete
  16. I need advice on month to month contracts under a Ministry. I started working for a state agency on 2 year contracts and in 2009 they stopped renewing 2 year contracts and placed everyone on month to month employment. We have had no benefits, no vacation.
    They have decided to close down our program and agreed in writing that outstanding gratuities and vacation not taken from the time of month to month will be paid. However, some workers were sent home without compensation and the remainder of us will be sent home within the next month or so. We keep getting the run around when we ask about our agreed vacation cheques and gratuity.
    I would like to know if it is legal to be employed under the government for 5 years and more on a month to month basis and are we entitled to some form of compensation?

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have a situation. My sister works for a company that renews her contract every four months. They do not pay NIS for her and have specified this in her contract. She has been working there for two years and they have agreed to give her days in the week to go to classes where she will not be paid. Also, she was given a week off as vacation but she was not paid as they tell her they do not pay for vacation for contract workers. Is that even legal and who can we go to for them to review her contract?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi I work at university and was given a two year contract at the end of my probation contract. I was employed in Nov 2013 on a six month probation.In May 2014 I was put on a two year contract which ended Nov. 2015. I am unable to get a loan because I am told my contract is under review. I am still employed but I got a job letter stating I am on contract but there is no contract period. I have never broken service and this June makes two years and seven months. I

    ReplyDelete
  19. If you are given a one year contract and after the year the employer did not break the contract and 4 months past and you continue working for the employer, can you become permanent? can an employer come after the 4 months to give you a contract to backdate it to when the 1st contract was ended.
    I am told that 3 months after a contract has ended and there is no breach in contract and a worker has continued working then the worker is permanent. But I am not seeing supported evidence for this

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Entrenched in case law. Contact us if you have any problems.

      https://www.facebook.com/ttworkersassociation/

      Delete
  20. Hi, I work at a university and I was on a two year contract which ended last November. I am still employed and have vacation, sick and casual leave, and I am on the company's medical. I have asked about my status in terms of permanence and was told that my contract is up for review. this was last December. I requested a job letter and got one stating that I am a contract worker and I am presently employed at the institution. There was no specific time frame on the letter so I was turned down for the loan. Am I permanent? what are my options?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If your job is one of a permanent nature, consider yourself to be permanent.

      Delete
  21. I have no documentation saying such and still unable to apply for loans or mortgages. Also no higher purchase agreements can be made without a specific contract period. what are my options

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  22. what is meant by permanent nature?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A job of a permanent nature is one that is needed within the organisation - i.e., not a fixed project.

      Delete
  23. Hi i have been employed with a company from October 2014 to this date and the only contract i ever signed was the one for me to start employment which also stated that my contract will be renewed every year. I was never given another contract to sign so does this mean i am permanent? Cause i was under the impression that i was until i tried doing business in the bank with a job letter from my company which didn't state neither permanent nor contract worker...when the bank called my company they told the bank i am a contract worker and my contract renews every 2 years which was news to me and looking at the copy of my contract that i signed in 2014 it didn't state that. How should i handle this situation

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can't force the company to change your status, but you are definitely permanent.

      Delete
  24. Hello. I completed one year of a three year contract prior to accepting a promotion into a new contract position within the same institution (Government). I am advised that I am unable to access pro-rated gratuity as, according to the contract guidelines, this would be only possible if I had been terminated for reasons other than cause or I had died. I feel something is inherently unfair about this, as I am essentially being punished for being promoted. Is there anyway to challenge this? N.B. - My terms and condition were still pending from CPO for the one year I worked which is why only "contract guidelines" were cited.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Contact our union: Trinidad and Tobago Workers' Association.

      Delete
  25. this morning i was told that i would be given a month to month contract(today is the last day of my contract),which will be assessed after 3 months for continuation of job after which the month to month contracts would continue until the board changes its policy.
    i am now being told (a few hours after) that i am going to get a two week break in contract as directed by the managing director,noting that this has not been done recently with contract renewals and i have not received a break in contract in the 4 years(3 consecuitive contracts) i have been working here, nor has it been norm with the renewal of others persons who received renewals

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Contact our trade union: Trinidad and Tobago Worker's Association

      Delete
  26. hello i was hired on a 6 month contract that was supposed to be renewed up to 2 years. At the 5th month of the 1st six month contract staff on the project were directed to take a 1 week break in service (their terminology) and then resume to finish the contract. Is this acceptable procedure? Also after i completed my week i returned to the news that noone else will be going on break because it is not good industrial practice. Am i entitled to compensation for that illegal week break in service?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AB-SO-LUTELY!!! "Break in service" is the biggest scam in labour law since slavery.

      Delete
  27. I have been employed with a certain majority state owned company for over seven years I was originally given a letter /contract of casual employment which meant I answered a roll if employment was available I would be hired on a need for my services by the company basics after about six months I was offered employment based on a roster which meant I would be employed Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm please note I was never given a break of service or contract renewal but my job letter still reads casual which does not go along with the bank as casual means that my employment can end abruptly I have both spoken to my union and management and for the past years they both say they are working on it note there are no stipulations in our bargaining agreements on how worker are to be made permanent I also receive vacation sick leave and casual leave doth less in quantity than a permanent worker

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's called exploitation... both your company and union are probably in cahoots.

      Delete

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