New labor law legislation is awaiting approval by the parliament in Sint Maarten. Perhaps one of the most important changes that this legislation proposes is that entering into employment agreements for a definite period of time (i.e., fixed-term employment contracts) will be permitted only under certain conditions prescribed by law.

The change requires that a fixed-term employment contract be concluded in writing and relate to one of the following scenarios:

  1. Temporary employees are needed for only part of the calendar year.
  2. Replacement employees are required because of temporarily absent employees.
  3. Employees are necessary in relation to a precisely defined project or work.
  4. Employees are necessary to undertake occasional or irregular work.

If an employment agreement for a definite period of time is entered into without regard to these criteria, the termination provisions applicable to employment agreements for an indefinite period would apply. In addition, such conduct may also be punishable by law.

The rationale behind this legislative proposal is to reduce the amount of employment agreements for a definite period of time and to make it harder for employers to enter into such agreements. This is due to concerns that employers are misusing these employment agreements for work of a permanent nature. This can cause problems for employees, such as in obtaining a mortgage or loan. The change will bring Sint Maarten in line with another territory of the Caribbean Netherlands, Aruba.

Written by Danilo Narvaez, Sophie van Lint, and Thies Leijsen of VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins

© 2019 VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.