Planning to take leave from work? Know your rights and be informed when you speak to your employer about your plans. Under Bahamian law, employees are entitled to various types of leave. See Employment Act.
If you have been working for an employer for at least six months, you may take up to one week of sick leave per year with pay in case of illness preventing you from working. The leave does not roll over if you do not use it during the year. You must produce a doctor's note to your employer for the leave. If you take only one day of leave at a time, you do not have to produce a doctor's note unless you wish to be paid for that day. Employment Act, Section 11.
Employees who complete twelve months of work for their employer are entitled to take at least two weeks of vacation. Employers must pay employees for vacation, and the amount of pay depends on how long the employee has worked there. Employees for twelve months to less than seven years receive two weeks of pay, and employees for more than seven years receive three weeks of pay. Employees for less than twelve months will receive pro rata pay depending on how long they were employed. If an employee works for less than 90 days, no vacation pay is earned. Vacation pay must be paid immediately before the planned vacation. Employment Act, Sections 12-15.
Maternity and Family Leave
Women may take maternity leave from work if they provide a certificate from a doctor or midwife showing the actual or expected due date to the employer. Employers must pay a woman a portion of her wages for the time she is on leave, although she may not receive this pay more than once every three years. To qualify for maternity leave, a female employee must have worked for her employer for at least twelve weeks.
Leave must last for at least one week before the due date and eight weeks after labor and birth. If the employee gives birth early or has less than four weeks off work before the birth, she may take additional leave so that her total leave amount is twelve weeks long. If the employee gives birth later than expected, her leave will be extended to include the period between her expected due date and her actual due date. If the woman has an illness resulting from the birth, she may take up to an additional six weeks of leave as recommended by a doctor.
Bahamian law also permits family leave for employees working for an employer for at least six months. Employees may take family leave upon the birth of a child or the death or illness of a child, spouse or parent. Employers may require that an employee provide proof of the birth, death, or illness. Employment Act, Sections 16-20.
A future article will discuss discrimination and wrongful termination due to taking leave.
To find out more about employment law in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.