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Jamaica Leave Laws & Holidays

Paid Time Off (PTO), Vacation, Sick Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Bereavement Leave, Jury Duty, Military Leave, Voting Leave, and Holidays for 2024

Table Of Contents

This page was last updated on January 1, 2024.

Paid Time Off (PTO) in Jamaica

An employer in the private sector is required to provide the following:

  • Paid vacation leave
  • Paid sick leave
  • Paid maternity leave
  • Paid holiday leave

Vacation Leave Quota

2 weeks of paid leave per year.

Employees in Jamaica are entitled to 2 weeks of paid vacation leave per year. After 10 years of continuous service, employees receive 3 weeks of paid leave per year. However, most employers will grant 3 weeks of leave after the first 5 years of employment.

This leave policy is similar to the one in Canada but guarantees more than a no-vacation nation—the US. However, leave laws in Europe are much more generous to their employees.

Accrual

Employees begin to accrue vacation leave after being employed for 110 days. In the period of an employee’s work between 110 and 220 days, they receive 1 day of vacation leave for every 22 days of work. An employee who works for more than 220 days is entitled to a full 2 weeks of vacation leave.

Employees accrue vacation leave during the year, and then they are allowed to use it in the following year. This is the default scenario, but an employer and an employee can have different agreements that would allow employees to use their vacation time in the same year that it is accrued.

An employer may not force employees to take vacation days against their will. Employees must voluntarily apply for a vacation based on the amount of time they are entitled to.

Carry-over

The national vacation policy is silent about carrying over unused vacation days from one year to the next, so it is not allowed automatically. Therefore, unused days will most likely be lost at the end of the year unless an employment contract or a company policy specifies a different scenario. An employment contract or a company policy should stipulate details on carrying over vacation days, including any limits on the number of days and timeframes. Some employers allow cash out of unused vacation days at the end of the year.

Still using only spreadsheets to carry over unused days? If yes, you know how time-consuming and tedious it can be. Remember, life’s too short for cluttered spreadsheets when you can enjoy an automated PTO tracking system.

Payment of Accrued, Unused Vacation Upon Termination

All accrued but unused vacation leave must be paid out to an employee upon termination. The amount is determined by multiplying the number of vacation days that were not used by the standard daily rate. Vacation pay is taxable in Jamaica.

Payout

Vacation leave in Jamaica is paid by the employer. Employees receive their regular wages during the leave.

Sick Leave in Jamaica

2 weeks of paid sick leave per year.

Sick leave entitlement is similar to vacation leave entitlement in that it is governed by the same law – the Holidays with Pay Order (1973). The way it is accrued, the number of weeks of leave per year, and everything else is the same, except that employers are not required to pay unused sick leave upon separation of employment.

Sick leave entitlement

Employees are entitled to 2 weeks of paid sick leave per year, and 3 weeks for employees who have 10 years of service.

Employees are required to notify their employers of any illness on the first day of absence and provide a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner if the illness lasts for more than 3 days.

Accrual

An employee starts to accrue sick leave after 110 days of work. From 110 days of employment to 220 days, the employee receives 1 day of paid sick leave for every 22 days of work. After 220 days of employment, the employee is entitled to the standard 2 weeks of paid sick leave. The law is unclear about whether the employee can use the full 2 weeks of said leave after 110 days of work.

If an employee is not entitled to paid sick leave, they can still take the unpaid leave that the doctor recommends as per their condition.

Payout

The law doesn’t require employers to provide employees with payment for their unused sick days when the year ends, but some companies do it as an extra perk.

An employer is not required to pay for earned, unused sick days at the end of employment, unless there is a written contract that grants it.

Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption Leave in Jamaica

Maternity Leave

3 months’ leave: 2 months with full pay and 1 month without pay.

Statutory maternity leave

Female employees are entitled to 3 months (12 weeks) of maternity leave. The first 2 months (8 weeks) of leave are paid at the regular salary rate, whereas the last month (4 weeks) is unpaid. Some companies choose to pay for the full 3-month period, although it is not mandatory.

An employee is entitled to a maximum of 3 paid maternity leaves for the same employer, fourth and subsequent pregnancies are unpaid.

A pregnant woman can start her maternity leave as early as 11 weeks before her due date.

Additional leave

If a woman develops a pregnancy-related illness or if the child’s health requires it, an additional 14 weeks may be added to the maternity leave period. This additional period is unpaid, unless the employer chooses to pay.

Eligibility

An employee is eligible for maternity leave if she has completed 12 months of service before going on leave. Also, an employee must be at least 18 years old.

Notice requirements

At least two weeks before her expected delivery date (but as soon as practicable), an expectant employee must notify her employer about her pregnancy. The employer may require this in writing. Also, she must provide a medical certificate from a licensed medical practitioner.

Rights during leave

During maternity leave, an employee’s job is protected, as is her right to return to work.

(As of January 1, 2023, maternity leave is paid for the full 3 months, but only for employees in the public sector.)

Paternity Leave

In Jamaica, there is no mandatory paternity leave in the private sector.

(As of January 1, 2023, employees in the public sector are entitled to 20 days of paid paternity leave. Companies in the private sector are being encouraged to also offer paid paternity leave.)

Adoption Leave

In Jamaica, there is no mandatory adoption leave in the private sector.

(As of January 1, 2023, employees in the public sector are entitled to 20 working days of paid adoption leave.)

Other Types of Paid Leave

By law, employers in Jamaica are only required to provide paid vacation leave, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave, and paid holiday leave. Nevertheless, some employers choose to offer additional perks to their employees, such as paid bereavement leave, paid jury duty leave, and more.

Bereavement Leave in Jamaica

Not required by law.

Jury Duty Leave in Jamaica

Not required by law.

Although it is not mandatory for employers to provide paid time off for jury duty, many choose to do so as a way of supporting their employees’ civic responsibilities.

A court can excuse an employee if his attendance on jury duty would result in unnecessary financial loss or hardship for the employer.

Military Leave in Jamaica

Not required by law.

Voting Leave in Jamaica

Employers are required by law to provide 3 hours of time off.

All employees who are registered to vote are entitled to 3 hours of time off during polling hours for voting on election day. These 3 mandatory hours are in addition to their regular lunch hour.

On the other hand, an employer is not required to provide voting leave if an employee begins work at 10 a.m. or later, or ends work at 2 p.m. or before. In that case, the employee has 3 consecutive hours to vote during non-working hours. In other words, if the employee has enough time during his or her non-working hours to cast their vote, the employer does not need to provide voting leave.

An employee may choose not to vote and spend his scheduled time off elsewhere. An employer cannot check this nor take any legal action in response to this decision.

Payout

It is likely that employees are entitled to be paid for time taken off work to vote, even though the law does not specifically address this issue. Deducting salary for absence during the prescribed voting time would be a violation of the constitutional right to vote.

Public Holidays in Jamaica for 2024

Paid leave for 10 national holidays is required by law.

There are 10 holidays, each lasting for one day. Private employers in Jamaica are required to provide their employees with the day off with pay on the observed public holiday.

An employer is not required to pay hourly-paid employees for public holidays if they don’t work (they are paid only for the time they actually work).

A complete list of official holidays celebrated in Jamaica in 2024:
Date Holiday
January 1, Moday New Year’s Day
February 14, Wednesday Ash Wednesday (46 days before Easter Sunday) *
March 29, Friday Good Friday *
April 1, Monday Easter Monday *
May 23, Thursday Labor Day
August 1, Thursday Emancipation Day
August 6, Tuesday Independence Day
October 21, Monday National Heroes’ Day **
December 25, Wednesday Christmas Day
December 26, Thursday Boxing Day

* Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday are movable, and the dates vary each year, according to the date of Easter Sunday.

** National Heroes’ Day is always on the third Monday in October.

*** If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday in Jamaica, it is typically observed on the following Monday.

Sources

  1. Ministry of Labour and Social Security, https://www.mlss.gov.jm/
  2. Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica, https://www.hrmaj.org/index.php/publications/laws-of-jamaica
  3. Paid Vacation Leave in Jamaica: When Could an Employee Apply for it?, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/1-paid-vacation-leave-jamaica-when-could-employee-allen-martinez/
  4. Important Labour Laws, https://www.jtug.info/important-labour-laws/
  5. Paying for Jury Duty, https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/business/paying-for-jury-duty/
  6. Voting on a workday – are workers entitled to time off?, https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/elections-candidates/voting-on-a-workday-are-workers-entitled-to-time-off/
  7. Election day and the employee’s right to time off, https://dunncox.com/articles/election-day-and-the-employees-right-to-time-off/
  8. Expanding into Jamaica, https://www.atlashxm.com/countries/jamaica
  9. Employer of Record Jamaica, https://www.skuad.io/employer-of-record/jamaica
  10. Definitive Guide to Hiring in Jamaica, https://www.globalexpansion.com/countrypedia/jamaica

Check out our Leave Laws page to learn more about laws in various countries.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about this region's leave laws. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may not be current. Please contact your local legal counsel to learn more about the leave laws in your country.