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Antigua and Barbuda - Avenues for redress (penalties, remedies) and litigation procedure for individual complaints

Avenues for redress (penalties, remedies) and litigation procedure for individual complaints - Antigua and Barbuda - 2018    

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Compensation for unfair dismissal - free determination by court: Yes

  • See sec. B12 LC, as amended by sec. 6 of LCA: In an unfair dismissal or suspension without pay matter, a decisional officer may order the payment of a sum of money equal to loss of wages sustained and, in addition thereto he may also order the re-instatement or restoration of the person dismissed or suspended, or the payment of a sum of money in lieu of such reinstatement"

Reinstatement available: Yes

  • See sec. B12 LC as amended by sec. 6 LCA.

Preliminary mandatory conciliation: Yes

  • Complaints of unfair dismissals shall be first brought to the Labour Commissioner who shall seek to settle the matter by voluntary adjustment or settlement within 10 days. Conciliation or mediation may be used for those purposes (see sec. C60, C61 together with sec. B5 LC).
    Failing to achieve voluntary adjustment or settlement, he shall transmit the matter to the Minister in charge of Labour who shall also himself attempt to achieve voluntary adjustment or settlement of the matter by taking whatever steps he deems appropriate.(sec. C62 together with sec. B6 LC) If these attempts do not yield any results, the Minister shall take a number of steps available to him (sec. B6(2) LC) including referral of the matter to a Hearing officer (sec. C63 LC).

Competent court(s) / tribunal(s): administrative body

  • The Hearing Officer is competent to hear complaints of unfair dismissal (upon referral by the Minister) and impose appropriate remedies (damages or reinstatement in addition to the payment of loss wages) (see. sec. B12, and C63 LC).

    It should be noted that the Industrial Relations Court has jurisdiction over trade disputes (collective disputes) and does not generally have jurisdiction over individual disputes such as disputes concerning dismissal.
    However, according to sec. 10 ICA provides that in addition to its jurisdiction, in any dispute concerning the dismissal of an employee, if in the opinion of the Court, an employee has been dismissed in circumstances that are harsh and oppressive or not in accordance with the principles of good industrial relations practice, it may order the re-employment or re-instatement of the employee and/or the payment of compensation or damages, or the payment of exemplary damages in lieu of such re-employment or re-instatement.

Existing arbitration: No

  • Dismissals complaints do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Tribunal which is only competent to hear and determine any major trade dispute (sec. B8 LC). [A major dispute is a dispute which has led to an interruption of work which is continuing; or if there is no present interruption of work, may lead to an interruption of work: sec. K13 LC)

% of dismissals out of the total number of disputes: 46 %

  • Statistics for 2007 (% of termination, suspension, redundancy, lay-off disputes), from the Labour Department of Antigua and Barbuda.