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What are the main laws regulating employment relationships?
The main employment legislation is the Labour Code (No 16-22 of 1992). It applies to Dominicans and foreign persons working in the Dominican Republic. The employer and employee are subject to an employment contract, although its provisions can never release or limit rights under the Labour Code.
Is a written contract of employment required? If so, what main terms must be included in it? Do any implied terms and/or collective agreements apply to the employment relationship?
A written contract of employment is not required, except in certain cases (such as when hiring employees for a specific time frame or a particular job or foreign employees who need immigration permits to be relocated to the Dominican Republic), since the Labour Code governs the employment relationship and indicates that the employment contract is not that which exists in writing but rather that which is performed in practice. If a written employment contract is executed, two original copies of this must be filed with the corresponding Labour Department. The minimum rights included in the Labour Code cannot be superseded by the provisions of an employment contract, unless these provisions enhance such rights.
Do foreign employees require work permits and/or residency permits?
Foreign employees must obtain a residency permit for work purposes. This permit provides foreign employees with the same civil rights as any Dominican national (except for the right to vote). Additionally, all employees (foreign and Dominican) must be registered in the social security system. Registration is considered a main employment obligation under Dominican Republic labour laws.
Termination and redundancy
Are employees entitled to management representation and/or to be consulted in relation to corporate transactions (such as redundancies and disposals)?
Employees are not entitled to management representation or consultation.
How is the termination of individual employment contracts regulated?
A dismissal is deemed to be without just cause unless it is for one of the reasons established under Article 88 of the Labour Code, which include, inter alia:
- Lack of integrity.
- Abandonment of the workplace without just cause.
- Lack of dedication to the job.
The employer must notify the employee and the Labour Department within 48 hours of a dismissal taking place.
The minimum notice period is seven working days and the minimum severance payment is the ordinary salary for six working days (both minimums being for employees who have performed three to six months' uninterrupted work).
Employees can be dismissed without just cause if, at the time of their dismissal, their employment rights were observed by the employer; for example:
- They were given the correct notice period.
- They received any compensation that they were entitled to.
Employees dismissed without just cause and without receiving their entitlements can file a claim against their employer for unfair dismissal and for certain payments, such as severance and damages.
Are redundancies and mass layoffs regulated?
The Dominican Labour Code has not expressly established a redundancy procedure as it is configured under US and UK legislation. Under Dominican Republic legislation, there are two different scenarios for redundancy, which are regulated differently:
- If the reduction of personnel is due to a voluntary decision of the company (that is, not due to the bankruptcy of the company or a lack of sufficient resources to allow the operation to continue), the termination of the employment agreements of the employees dismissed must be exercised in one of two ways:
- by dismissal without cause (in this case, the employer pays termination benefits to the employee and notifies its decision in writing to the Labour Department within 48 hours); or
- by mutual agreement (in this case, the termination must happen before the Labour authorities or before a Notary Public. If it takes place before a Notary Public, it must be notified to the Labour Department after enactment. As with dismissal without cause, the employer must pay termination benefits to the employee).
- If the reduction of personnel is due to the any of the following, it must be notified to the Labour Department to obtain the latter’s approval, in the manner established in Article 56 of the Labour Code:
- the bankruptcy of the company;
- the company's operations ceasing altogether; or
- the company's definitive closing or reduction of personnel, arising from lack of resources to allow the operation to continue, unprofitability, or another similar cause.
Article 24 of the Regulation for the Application of the Labour Code establishes that, in cases where it is necessary to reduce a company's personnel, the employer must, prior to undertaking the reduction, notify its decision to the Labour Department or a local authority which exercises Labour Department functions, so as to verify compliance with the provisions of Articles 141 and 142 of the Labour Code.
In the event that there is a need to reduce the personnel of a company for causes authorised by law, the reduction must be made in the following order:
- Unmarried foreign employees.
- Married foreign employees.
- Foreign employees married to Dominicans.
- Foreign employees with Dominican children.
- Unmarried Dominican employees.
- Married Dominican employees.
(Article 141, Labour Code.)