Employers in Barbados are embracing the recent judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which has established a new-look approach to compensation for workers who may be unfairly dismissed.
Executive Director of the Barbados Employers Confederation (BEC) Sheena Mayers-Granville today said businesses in this country have been concerned for some time over the “disproportionate” awards given to employees by the Employment Rights Tribunal.
“The BEC is very happy to hear the results of the CCJ judgment in the Chefette versus Orlando Harris case,” Mayers-Granville told Barbados TODAY.
On May 7, the CCJ – this country’s final court of appeal – slashed to $31 274, a compensation package that previously stood at $106,000 and then $95 000 and which was awarded to former Chefette assistant manager Orlando Harris by the Employment Rights tribunal (ERT) and reviewed and reduced by Barbados Court of Appeal.
Not only did the regional court view both awards as excessive, the judges sitting in Port of Spain, declared that loss of future earnings ought not to have been included in the awards for unfair dismissals, virtually ruling out “future earnings” in any new unfair dismissal cases.
Mayers-Granville said today, “The reason for that is, we have long been concerned with the quantum of awards being given at the level of the Employment Rights Tribunal. There are situations where the employer would have made procedural missteps and in that situation would have had a case for unfair dismissal,” the employers’ spokeswoman stated.
“However, the quantum of awards seemed to have been disproportionately in favour of the employee even where there was some fault of the employee and it may have just been a misstep in terms of procedures,” she added.
The BEC head contended that sometimes the awards did not bear any relevance to the tenure of the employee.
“So the CCJ’s judgment would have really made a difference in terms of how awards are calculated going forward. We know that the impact will be significant on the quantum of awards coming through from the Employment Rights Tribunal. We expect that coming out of this case, we would see awards being made more in line with our expectations,” she pointed out.
Lawyers for the fast food chain and the former senior worker have already claimed victory for different reasons.
Gregory Nicholls, who represented Harris in association with Kashka Mottley and Demetrie Adams, insisted that the CCJ cleared his client’s name and agreed with his contention that he had been unfairly dismissed by Chefette Restaurants Limited.
Chefette’s lawyers Satcha Kissoon who appeared in association with Benjamin Drakes said the CCJ’s ruling was in line with what his client wanted.
“We are very pleased with the decision….Our position has been that the awards given by the tribunal are larger than should be allowed. The CCJ characterized it as a strikingly large award and they have agreed with us, with Chefette, that the approach taken by the tribunal is incorrect,” Kissoon said.
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