Tag Archives: Trinidad

Employees asked Akilah Phillip, Attorney-At-Law 10 questions


Ask Akilah, Attorney-At-Law

As employees we’re faced with situations at work that we really want to get some legal advice on, but don’t know where to begin or who to turn to. In most instances we perceive the cost of consulting with a lawyer to be something quite expensive. SalariesTT wants to help employees find the answers to these questions. We launched a Q&A session where members submitted questions on employee law. We’re super excited to have teamed up with Akilah Phillip and the LTIP team, to answer your questions.

Akilah Phillip is an Attorney At Law with more than 11 years experience in practice. She has worked in various aspects of the legal field from Corporate, Criminal to Intellectual Property.

Ms. Phillip has engaged in extensive contract negotiation throughout her legal career and worked closely with many Human Resource Departments. She has conducted several internal tribunal hearings and is intimately familiar with the procedure for settling employee disputes.

Ms. Phillip is currently in private practice where she specialises in Entertainment Law and Intellectual Property, however she continues to assist clients with other grievances based on her wide range of legal expertise. She is also the founder and CEO of LTIP.

Can you return to a job after being dismissed?

3Yes, you can return to a job after being dismissed. This is within your employer’s discretion what new terms and conditions they may seek to re-employ you under.


Can an employer promote an employee making $6000.00 to three levels and only increase their pay to $7500.00. Then hire a new employee to the same position with salary of $12000.00?

The employer can certainly employ someone in a similar position with a new salary after having another employee in that position. Promotions and compensations are discretionary within the company. The payment figure used for employees is often based on industry standards, experience and qualifications. The facts do not reveal what experience or qualifications the new employee will be bringing to the work environment which may justify an increased salary raise. Those factors will have to be evaluated equitably to determine if there is discrimination.

I’m a supervisor at the company I work for. The HR policy says that supervisors are not entitled to overtime pay. I was promoted to this position and aware of the HR policy when I accepted the position. However, I am chastised by my employer whenever I refuse to work overtime. Can my employer insist that I work the extra hours?

Woman in computer room sleeping

An employee cannot be forced to work outside of the stipulated mandatory working hours as provided for in the the Minimum Wages Act Chap 88:04. The employer can have an HR policy for how overtime will be paid and the company’s provisions that give further clarification.

However, the company ought not to compel the employee to work outside of the stipulated period where the employee has indicated their unwillingness to do so. This must be taken in context where in some situations for example security personnel may agree to work hours that extend beyond the stipulated times. In these circumstances they are paid the overtime rate.

An employee should document all grievances in writing and forward it to the employer. Following this correspondence the employee can refer the matter to the Ministry of Labour.

When seeking to develop policies for an organisation such as Sexual Harassment, what are the critical things to consider?

shutterstock_510560002A company will have to clearly define what amounts to sexual harassment.

This can be done by reviewing employees’ job descriptions and identifying situations that employees may be required to work closely that will not amount to a violation of the company’s policy.

The company should identify how each report of sexual harassment will be dealt with. This may involve an investigation period; this time period should be explicitly stated. The policy should also indicate how the investigation will be conducted and who the report will be submitted to.

The company can also decide to hold an internal hearing to allow the accused person a due form of natural justice. This allows the employee to gather their own evidence and possibly have persons testify on their behalf.

The company should identify the procedure to follow thereafter once they are satisfied that a violation has occurred e.g. (payment of outstanding benefits, delivery of the company’s finding with sufficient time for acknowledgement etc.)

I’ve been trying to land a job in Trinidad for the last year. My question is this. Is there a law in Trinidad that prevents employers from employing non-Trinidadian persons who are not residing in the country unless there are no local personnel to fill the position?

There is no law that prevents an employer from hiring non-Trinidadian persons. Employers have on many occasions hired persons outside of Trinidad and Tobago. Additionally the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME) Certificate allows free movement of services within the Caribbean region. You should consider if you reside in one of the CSME countries.

Citizens of CSME states who meet certain criteria can apply for a Certificate of Recognition of CARICOM Skills Qualification that allows them to work in any CSME member state. Do you fall within the category of skilled workers?

If you are working for a flat gross salary of $15000.00 per month, how much money is deducted for PAYE and how is it calculated to arrive at that figure

The first $6000.00 you earn is nontaxable. It’s your personal allowance. That leaves you with $9,000.00. Your income tax rate is 25%. 25% of $9,000.00 leaves you with a P.A.Y.E of $2250.00.

Can your employer prohibit you from joining a trade union?

An employer cannot prevent an employee from joining a trade union. This is guaranteed by Section 71 of the Industrial Relations Act 1972:

Every worker as between himself, his employer and co-workers shall have the following rights, that is to say:

a) The right to be a member of any trade union or any number of trade unions of his choice;
b) The right not to be a member of any trade union or other organisation of workers or to refuse to be a member of any particular trade union or other organisations of workers;
c) Where he a member of a trade union, the right, subject to this Act, to take part in activities of trade union (including any activities as or with a view to becoming an official of trade union) and (if appointed or elected) to hold office as such an official.

My staff views sick leave as an entitlement and they all aim to use all 14 days with most of them exceeding the limit by mid year. Can I issue warning letters for excessive sick leave without any repercussion especially since it is a unionised organization?

930If the employee exceeds the sick leave by mid-year and therefore has no more sick leave remaining the employer is within their rightful authority to issue a warning letter for absentia.

However, if the employee is abusing the sick leave and taking more than the permitted two days sick leave on a weekly basis or the sick leave frequently coincides around a long weekend and exceeds the two days, the employer can issue a warning letter.

The employer will have to document the fact that no medical certificate was submitted or that one was falsely tendered. The Employer can also lodge a complaint with the Medical Board where there is suspicion of a false certificate and request an independent evaluation.

A warning letter should only be issued where the employer can prove that the employee has abused the entitlement to sick days and has provided no documentary evidence. Prematurely issuing a warning letter can expose the company to liability.

My company regularly fires staff effective immediately for poor performance, however they do this without any prior notice or warnings given to to the employee. The company will also offer them a severance payment upon their dismissal. Is it legal for an employer to fire an employee without prior notice/warning? Also, how is severance pay determined?

Yes, an employee shall have the right to answer any allegations made against him and respond to such charges. The legal principle of natural justice dictates that the proper steps and procedures are taken before an employee is terminated.

In some companies tribunal hearings occur and the employee is afforded the right of representation of his choice. This can take the form of a Union representative or an Attorney. There should be proper documentation presented to the employee of all facts related to the matter that they are being accused of. Employees can also visit the Conciliation Unit of the Ministry of Labour where they can obtain advice about their employer’s actions. All matters after internal review are then referred to the Ministry; therefore an employee can opt to get guidance prior to undergoing the process.

Severance is determined by the employee first being classified as a “worker” the employee must meet the worker standard to be considered for severance benefits. According to the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act 1985 as amended 45 days noticed is required for the severance package. Section 18 of the Act lays out the provisions for the package and consideration of whether there is a Collective Agreement are factors to be determined. The calculation is done on a pro rata basis for the period of the employee’s service.

Is it legal for a Borough Corporation to acquire a facility and keep all the staff of the facility and have them all on continuous contract employment since 2013 with no break in service (only twice they broke service in 2014). Persons have been working for the same salary since 2007. The previous management had the facility since 2007. The Borough Corporation acquire the facility in October 2013

An employee can continue with contract employment with no break in service legally. This will not convert the employee’s status to permanent. However, where employed by the State there are guidelines from the Chief Personnel Officer and Director of Personnel Administration which provides that after a year of continuous contract employment an employee can be entitled to sick leave, vacation and gratuity retroactively.


What situation did you have to dealt with at your job? How was it handled? Tell us in the comments below. If you like this article or you like what we’re doing share with your friends and colleagues.


Salaries TT Team


I Love My Job with Kemba Nefertiti Jaramogi

I Love My Job with Kemba Nefertiti Jaramogi

I would listen to my friends and colleagues, and just like me there is the everyday vent … basically about hating their jobs. Not just the regular ‘I Hate Mondays’ memes, but actual full on rants!I could tell you now by 10:00 am this Tuesday Luke is going to message the group chat to sayMy boss is such ah …’. Actually I probably should not quote Luke. Of course I’m sure to respond to the chat with something like ‘OMG !! mine just requested two additional reports by 2:00 pm today  .


So you get my point. It is very rare that you meet people that genuinely love their jobs.


It’s because of this, SalariesTT set out on a long and arduous search for someone of the sort, with the objective of motivating and inspiring our readers. It’s during this quest that we discovered Kemba Nefertiti Jaramogi !!!


Kemba is an environmentalist who focuses on transforming lives through environmental educational programmes. We sat down for a one on one with her. Read on.


Q: Who is Kemba?Fondes Amandes

My name is Kemba Jaramogi and I am the Technical Director here at Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project. I spend a lot of time working on an education outreach programme; schools, primary, tertiary education. I studied International Development with NGO Management.


Q: What aspect of your job do you absolutely love doing?

At Fondes Amandes we do a lot of different things. We have modules. We focus on different types of research projects, education awareness projects. We have things like forest fire prevention where we do community outreach and we do work with students. We try to teach people laws, responsible actions in the garden, around the home. So that is always exciting because a lot of people are not aware of the laws in Trinidad with regards to forest fire prevention. So that is something exciting and interesting.

I am also a trained Fire Fighter by the Fire Services for forest fires. I like to teach the skill as well as when I have to go out in the field and help to manage the team.

One of the things we do here is organic farming. All our seedlings for our reforestation activities are harvest here, the seedlings are set in our organic nursery and then it is planted out in the hills for reforestation. The tree species are mixed. You hear a lot of birds in the background. So you have a lot of fruit bearing trees. Trees that have seeds.

You create that habitat for wild life. So that is always exciting to see a tree start to bear. There are a lot of exciting things.


Also looking at the ecotourism aspect of it. Finding a middle group between education as oppose to doing the ecotourism aspect of it. Where people could just come and enjoy the space, enjoy a walk, go to the river, have a nice time. So because the work is so multi-crown there are so many things to be excited about all the time.



Q: What inspires you to get up each morning and pursue your passion?

What inspires someone to do this kind of work. Because it’s not entirely gratifying when it comes to rewards financially. But sometimes when you decide to take up a cause that is left unattended or not many people in the field to address these types of issues, then you know you’re not wasting your time. And also at the end of every session, workshop, student exchange, you name it, people are then further inspired by the work that you do. And hopefully along the line we would have a generation that is coming up to kind of make that change … baby steps. Whether it is looking at having a more sustainable household, in term of the usage of materials, lights, electricity, what not.


It is also tied into something that my parents started. My dad passed away 23 years this year. It’s a bit emotional yes. I do believe that somebody has to carry on this type of legacy and I really love what I do. I do believe in preserving that side of the legacy to see that work continued. To not have all this work that is done gone up in smoke. It’s something I want to see continued and happening throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Everybody just enjoying the natural environment and keeping it great.

Q: Have you encountered challenges reaching this point in your career?

… There were challenges. Firstly being a young woman and trying to teach grown men how to fight fires. That whole gender role and looking at something that is a typically male dominated field. That was one of the obstacles I had to go about.


Having to help take care of siblings, and then find your career and then balance your social life was also something. You know you’re always trying to find the middle ground as a young person. A party going on but you have to stay and do work. And trying to find purpose.

If it’s meaningful then at the end of the day you feel gratified. It’s not so tedious or difficult.

One of my biggest challenges when I was studying abroad. I had challenges with finances after my scholarship fell through because of the financial crisis. A lot of people were like ‘You know, just come back home’. But I was like ok I’m doing this for myself, let me struggle, raise funds and really see that part of my career finish.

To make sure that I have that stability in terms of education and everybody likes paperwork to go with it.

At every point that I seem to go forwards there is always something that would try to hinder a process. And then going straight into Project Development and Research and looking to do new things to develop this NGO here at Fondes Amandes, different initiatives, funding is always an issue. Funding for salary, funding for resource material, funding for additional staff.

So sometimes it becomes overbearing yes but then sometimes we have really amazing volunteers and it just lifts your spirit because you’re like ok I thought I was alone in this world here and then you have amazing volunteers come along and support you.



Q: What is the best advise that you ca give someone that is unhappy in their career?

Seek some sort of enlightenment or enjoyment. It starts with you.Often it has a party and someone reaches to the party and they’re like ‘This party dead man’. And then there is a person like me, who would walk into the party and say ‘This party  dead man’ but I done start to dance and liven up the party. Sometimes it’s an issue of energy. It have a lot of people who wait to feed off of people energy and to have that enjoyment sort of brought towards them, they don’t work for it.

So if you find yourself unfulfilled but you need that security in terms of income, find something to do after work. Find a course. There are so many courses in Trinidad. There are so many people that need help. There are so many people that can simply do with counselling sessions. Sometimes people just need a buddy. Sometimes an old people home can just do with somebody coming to help out in the evening. An NGO like this, we would want volunteers.

So it’s just about seeing what you are passionate about and just giving of yourself.

A lil two hours a week. Just reach out to groups and find some cause that you are passionate about.

Q: What’s next, where can we see Kemba Jaramogi in the future?

One of the things that I see in the future, both for me and Fondes Amandes is just continuous development … Once you are enlightened and once that enlightenment encourages action, that is the kind of change I want to see.

Do you love your job? Tell us why in the comments below.

Salaries TT Team