Employment Rights

 

Employment rights, or the Labor Code, in the Dominican Republic, is known for its inflexible and robust protection of the rights of each employee, and the good news is that foreigners legally living in the Dominican Republic are granted the same rights as citizens.  

When it comes to hiring rights, verbal contracts carry as much weight as written ones. While it is recommended to have everything in writing, it is not required. The rights of the Labor Code protect any relationship in which one person is providing a paid for service to another. The only exception lies with domestic workers. Domestic workers are individuals who perform household chores and functions such as cooking and cleaning, and they are not protected under the same rights.  

Employers have restrictions and obligations to follow when it comes to working hours and employee nationalities. Employees not in executive or managerial positions must not exceed 8 hours of work a day or 44 hours a week and each employee much receive 36 hours of uninterrupted rest. When working overtime, employees are heavily compensated, receiving 135% of the regular hourly wage.  

At least 80% of a company’s workforce must be Dominican, however, individuals in higher positions and those providing services for which there is no available Dominican substitute are exempt from this rule.   

When it comes to wages, everything must be paid in cash and cannot be below the minimum wage for each particular industry. Employers cannot exceed one month between salary payments. Late payment is considered a criminal offense punishable by a fine and up to five years in prison. Each employee is entitled to a Christmas Salary paid on or before December 20th. This bonus is exempt from income tax.  

The Labor Code also outlines required time off. Every employee has the right to paid leaves of absence in the event of marriage (5 days), death in the family (3 days), a spouse giving birth (2 days), and maternity leave (6 weeks pre and post birth).  Employers must also grant employees a yearly minimum of 14 working days of paid vacation.    

When it comes to termination, either side of an employment contract has the right to terminate with or without cause; however, there are severance laws.  When a contract is terminated without reason, referred to as “desahucio,” there must be a notice in advance to avoid paying a penalty fee on top of severance. When terminating for a reason, referred to as “despedido,” the employer must give notice and reason to the Department of Labor within 48 hours of the dismissal for reviewal. The cause for termination expires 15 days after the employee has committed the alleged offense. If an employee resigns for an unfair cause, referred to as “dimisión,” they must show evidence to receive compensation from the employer.  

The Labor Code also acknowledges the right of employee unions. These unions have the right to peacefully strike so long as a notice is given ten days before to the Ministry of Labor outlining the conflict needing to be solved, explaining the previous attempts to solve it, and showing that the services affected by the strike are not essential to the public. Essential services such as utilities and hospitals are not permitted to go on strike.   

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