Practice Area Articles

Trinidad and Tobago

January 16, 2023

Marjorie Nunez

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Trinidad and tobago



Working from home

People are back to work in Trinidad and Tobago. Even though some work could be done remotely, the general approach of employers has been to require employees to return to work. The arrangement whereby employees were staggered and had to report to work on specific days appears to have been discontinued as well. It is back to business as it was pre-Covid. There is no legal requirement for masks or social distancing, even though just close to 51 percent of the population received the initial two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.


Economic recession

The term recession is not being used in Trinidad and Tobago in 2022. The country received a cash windfall for its oil and gas sector as a result of global upheavals including the war in Ukraine. There have been reports of loss of jobs in all sectors, especially retail and construction. The Government is the largest employer in Trinidad and Tobago and there has been no retrenchment of public servants. Some private companies have downsized as a result of COVID-19 and there have been loss of jobs. Many employees lost jobs in the SME sector as a result of COVID-19. Many persons including university graduates and young professionals have stated that they are having difficulty in securing jobs.


Employment litigation

The Industrial Court of Trinidad and Tobago is empowered to hear cases involving employees who fit the definition of “worker” under the Industrial Relations Act Ch 88:01. Cases involving those who do not fit the definition of “worker”, for example senior managers and those who formulate policies for employers are heard in the High Court. Most of the cases involve unfair dismissal. There are no statistics to show whether unfair dismissal is claimed as a result of gender, age or race. Most times the unfair dismissals that are reported in the media are based on harsh or oppressive conduct by employers, performance issues, improper conduct on the job and retrenchment. We cannot quantify the percentage of cases that go before the Courts and involve gender, race or age issues.

With thanks to Marjorie Nunez of Nunez & Co. for her invaluable collaboration on this update.




Retirement Benefits

Retirement benefits may be paid to employees in cases where no such provision has been made. There is a need for legislative guidelines in relation to the retirement ages for men and women and this is expected in 2021.


Compliance with due process under the Industrial Relations Act

Under the Industrial Relations Act, employers must comply with due process, which is the legal right to be heard in cases of termination/retrenchment. Failure to do so may result in the Court awarding damages to the employee, even if the employee has otherwise been adequately compensated throughout their employment. Further guidance on this can be found in the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act.


COVID-19 related terminations

Terminations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to be challenged, regardless of whether they are based on the frustration argument, as Unions may argue that the pandemic is just being used as an excuse to close businesses and re-open with new employees in order to avoid successorship claims.

With thanks to Marjorie Nunez and Karen Nunez-Tesheira of Nunez & Co. for their invaluable collaboration on this update.

For More Information

Image: Suzanne Horne
Suzanne Horne

Partner, Employment Law Department

Image: Aashna Parekh
Aashna Parekh

Associate, Employment Law Department

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