The labor law in Belize is regulated mainly by Labour Act Chapter 297, as amended. The Labour Act governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays and rest periods, wages, overtime, occupational health and safety, and termination of employment.
The Shop Act governs the working hour, overtime, leave, and holiday laws for Shop Owners. “Shop” includes any building or portion of building premises or place where any wholesale or retail trade or business is carried on or transacted and includes any premises in which the business of a barber or hairdresser is carried on.
Hours & Pay Regulations
An employee is not required to work for more than 9 hours of actual work in any day or 45 hours of actual work in any week. An employee is not required to work more than 6 days a week.
The gross weekly wages of employees shall not be reduced as a result of the reduction of the maximum weekly working hours and any overtime hours shall be calculated by using the gross weekly wages for a 45 hour week as the ordinary rate of pay.
It is permissible to employ a shift employee without paying overtime if the average number of hours over a period of three weeks or less does not exceed the daily or a weekly number of overtime hours.
- 75 hours – week 1
- 30 hours – week 2
- 30 hours – week 3
Total 135 hours divided by 3 weeks = 45 hours, so this employer does not have to pay overtime. The employer is still obligated to pay the employee additional overtime wages for any work done on public and bank holidays.
The time during which the employee is at the disposal of the employer shall be deemed to be hours of actual work. Labour Act; Sec 116 & 123.
Employees are required to be paid at a rate of not less than one and one-half times the ordinary rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 9 hours in any day or 45 hours in any week.
In the case of employees remunerated by the piece or by the task and who are subject to continuous supervision, the expression ordinary rate of pay shall be deemed to be the piece rate or the task-rate. Labour Act; Sec 118.
No person shall employ during the night, in a public or private industrial undertaking:
- A woman; or
- A person under the age of eighteen years.
Labour Act; Sec 161.
Wherever the daily hours of work exceed 6 hours, the employer shall grant employees a break of not less than 1 hour, and the said break shall not be included in the computation of the hours of actual work. Labour Act; Sec 121.
Daily Rest Period
The rest period shall in no case be less than 9 consecutive hours. For persons working during the night, the rest period during the day shall likewise in no case be less than 9 consecutive hours. Labour Act; Sec 121.
If any employee works for and at the request of the employer on Sundays or other agreed rest days – at a rate of not less than one and one-half times the ordinary rate of pay.
If the employee works overtime on Sundays or other agreed rest days, then he shall be paid at a rate of not less than one and one-half times the ordinary rate of pay; and for hours worked in excess of 9 hours in any day or 45 hours in any week – at a rate of not less than one and one-half times the ordinary rate of pay. Labour Act; Sec 115, 118 (c).
There are 13 public and bank holidays in Belize.
- New Years Day
- Baron Bliss Day (9th March)
- Good Friday
- Holy Saturday
- Easter Monday
- Labour Day (1st May)
- Commonwealth Day (24th May)
- National Day (10th September)
- Independence Day (21st September)
- Pan -American Day (12th October)
- Garifuna Settlement Day (19th November)
- Christmas Day
- Boxing Day (26th December)
The days on which the holidays are commemorated are published each year in the Government Gazette.
Pay for Work on Holiday
- All work carried out on public holidays other than Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Easter Monday, which fall on a scheduled workday on which an employee would have worked but for the public holiday, shall be paid for at one and one-half times the ordinary rate of pay.
- All work carried out on Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Easter Monday, which fall on a scheduled workday, that is to say, a day on which the employee would have worked but for the public holiday, shall be paid for at double the ordinary rate of pay.
Pay for Overtime Work on Holiday
If any employee works for and at the request of the employer on a public holiday or a Sunday or other agreed rest day or for more than 9 hours in any day or 45 hours in any week, he shall be paid wages for such extra work at the following rates:
- On Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Easter Monday – at a rate of not less than double the ordinary rate of pay;
- On public holidays other than Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Easter Monday – at a rate of not less than one and one-half times the ordinary rate of pay.
Holiday on Non-Working Day
If the public and bank holidays fall on the rest day, then the employee is not entitled to pay for the public and bank holiday. If the public holiday falls on a regular workday the employee does not lose the regular week’s wages. Labour Act; Sec 117.
Every employee at the end of each year is entitled to an annual leave of at least 2 working weeks.
The annual leave shall be given and taken in one period, or if the employer and employee so agree, in two separate periods and not otherwise. If the employer and employee so agree, the annual leave or either of such separate periods may be taken wholly or partly in advance before the employee has become entitled to such a holiday.
The annual leave shall be given by the employer and shall be taken by the employee before the expiration of six months after the date upon which the right to such leave accrued, provided that the giving and taking of the whole or any separate period of such leave may, with the consent in writing of the Commissioner, be further postponed for a period to be specified by the Commissioner.
The employer shall determine the date on which the annual leave shall commence and shall give to the employee not less than 7 days’ notice of such date.
Where the annual leave or any part thereof has been taken before the right to such annual leave has accrued, the right to a further annual leave shall not commence accruing until after the expiration of the period of twelve months in respect of which the annual leave or part thereof has been so taken.
Annual Leave coinciding with Statutory Holiday
Where any public holiday, Sunday, or other agreed rest day occurs during any period of annual leave taken by an employee, the period of the leave shall be increased by one day in respect of such public holiday, Sunday, or other agreed rest day.
Every employee who takes an annual holiday shall be paid by the employer in respect of such annual holiday the average pay in respect of the period of the employment with such employer during the period of twelve months to which such annual holiday relates.
Where the employee takes an annual holiday in one period, the average pay shall be paid to him not later than the day immediately preceding the commencement of such an annual holiday.
Where the employee takes an annual holiday in two separate periods of equal duration, one-half of the average pay shall be paid to him not later than the day immediately preceding the commencement of each of the two periods.
No deduction shall be made in respect of public holidays, Sundays, or other agreed rest days from the wages of an employee which are to be paid to him as holiday pay.
Where an employee has been employed by the same employer for a period of not less than three months and such employment is terminated before the worker becomes entitled to an annual holiday in respect of that period of employment, the employer shall pay to the worker, in addition to all other amounts due to him, the average pay for the period of employment with such employer. Labour Act; Sec 127, 128 & 130.
As of January 1, 2020, all employees except those engaged in agriculture, or agro-industry, or export-oriented industry – $3.30 an hour. Belize’s minimum wage was last changed on May 26, 2012.
An employee has to be employed for at least 60 days to be entitled to sick leave with pay. Within any 12 months period, he is entitled to 16 working days of sick leave with full pay. An employee should produce a medical certificate to be entitled to sick leave with pay. An employer should give a worker in writing 48 hours to produce a medical certificate.
Payment for Sick Leave
The employer pays the difference between payments made by the Social Security Board (SSB) and the employee’s basic rate of pay for 16 working days. Payment after the 16 working days of illness will be paid by Social Security in accordance with the Social Security Act. Labour Act; Sec 131.
A female employee is entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave on full pay. Maternity leave shall be taken as follows:
- Up to a maximum of 7 weeks before the expected date of confinement;
- The balance after the expected date of confinement;
- 2 weeks before and 7 weeks after the expected date of confinement is mandatory.
Provided that during the twelve months preceding her confinement she was employed by the same employer for a period of not less than 150 days to qualify for full payment from the employer.
If an employee is entitled to maternity benefits under the Labour Act and Social Security Act, the worker will receive maternity benefits from Social Security and in addition be entitled to be paid by her employer the difference, if any. Please note that an employer cannot terminate an employee during this period. Labour Act; Sec 177 & 178.
Last updated on: June 29th, 2020