There is no publicly available current data on the active labor force in Dominica. The labor legislation in Dominica is applicable to all employees and employers. There are no waivers or exceptions regarding the application of labor laws and standards in Dominica. The law provides for the right of workers to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes; workers exercised these rights. Workers exercised the right to collective bargaining primarily in the nonagricultural sectors of the economy, including in the civil service. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination.
The government and employers generally respected freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The government generally enforced applicable laws, and penalties generally were sufficient to deter violations. Administrative and judicial procedures were not subject to lengthy delays or appeals, and there were no such problems during the year. Few disputes escalated to strikes or sickouts. A company, a union representative, or an individual may request mediation by the Ministry of Justice, Immigration, and National Security.
The government last raised Dominica’s minimum wage in June 2008. It varies according to the category of worker, with the lowest minimum wage set at approximately $1.50 an hour and the maximum set at approximately $2.06 an hour. The standard workweek is 40 hours for five or six days of work. The law provides overtime pay for work in excess of the standard workweek. Dominica has a labor force of approximately 32,630, with a literacy rate of 95 percent.
The local state college largely meets the country’s technical and training needs. There is also a small pool of professionals to draw from in fields such as law, medicine, engineering, business, information technology, and accounting. Many of the professionals in Dominica trained in the United States, Canada, the UK, or the wider Caribbean, where they often also gain work experience before returning to the country.
Employers usually advertise job vacancies in local newspapers. The government recommends that the advertisement be placed on three separate occasions to ensure transparency and equal opportunity for Dominican residents to apply. The embassy is not aware of any instances of government interference with the employer’s right to make hiring determinations.
The Labor Contract Act stipulates that an employee shall receive a contract from his/her employer within 14 days of engagement outlining the terms and conditions of employment.
The labor laws clearly regulate and define layoffs and the conditions under which layoffs can occur. Severance by redundancy is also regulated by law. People employed for three years or more qualify for severance pay. Social security benefits are payable only when the employee reaches retirement age.
The Industrial Relations Act provides for and regulates trade unions in both public and private sectors. Dominican law provides for the right of workers to form and join independent unions, the right to strike, and the right of workers to bargain collectively with employers. The government generally enforces laws governing worker rights effectively, and penalties generally were sufficient to deter violations. Administrative and judicial procedures are not generally subject to lengthy delays or appeals. Government mediation and arbitration are free of charge. The law prohibits anti-union discrimination by providing that employers must reinstate workers who file a successful complaint of illegal dismissal, which can cover being fired for engaging in union activities or other grounds of wrongful dismissal. Employers generally reinstated or paid compensation to employees who obtained favorable rulings by the ministry following a complaint of legal dismissal.
Collective bargaining is permitted in all firms (both public and private) where the employees are unionized. A copy of the collective bargaining agreement must be filed at the Ministry of Labor. There are no sectoral collective agreements. All unionized firms are obliged by law to negotiate terms and conditions of employment of all workers, whether or not they are members of a trade union. Dominica ratified all of the International Labor Organization (ILO)’s eight core conventions on human rights and labor administration.
The government deemed emergency, port, electricity, telecommunications, and prison services employees, as well as banana, coconut, and citrus fruit cultivation workers “essential,” deterring workers in these sectors from going on the strike. The ILO noted the list of essential services is broader than international standards. Small, family-owned farms employed most agricultural workers, and workers on such farms were not unionized. Nonetheless, in practice essential workers conducted strikes and did not suffer reprisals. The procedure for essential workers to strike is cumbersome, involving appropriate notice and submitting the grievance to the labor commissioner for possible mediation. These actions are usually resolved through mediation by the Office of the Labor Commissioner, with the rest referred to the Industrial Relations Tribunal for binding arbitration.
The Industrial Relations Act also mandates the establishment of the Industrial Relations Board and the Industrial Relations Tribunals as dispute resolution mechanisms. The Division of Labor acts as the first arbitrator with matters of investigation, mediation, and conciliation. Matters are referred only to the tribunals by the minister when conciliation fails or by request of any of the disputing parties.
Enforcement is the responsibility of the Labor Commissioner within the Ministry of Justice, Immigration and National Security. Labor laws provide that the labor commissioner may authorize the employment of a person with disabilities at a wage lower than the minimum rate to enable that person to work. The Employment Safety Act provides occupational health and safety regulations that are consistent with international standards. Workers have the right to remove themselves from unsafe work environments without jeopardizing their employment and the authorities effectively enforced this right in practice.
The informal economy plays a significant role in the labor market and economy of Dominica. The IMF has estimated that the informal economy averaged 46 percent of GDP over the 2011-2019 period. Nearly forty percent of informal sector workers were in wholesale and retail trade, with another 24 percent in manufacturing, 9 percent in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, and 29 percent in other industries. Despite the significance of the informal economy in Dominica, there is little evidence of its impact on contracts or access to industries of interest to U.S. and other foreign investors.