Anti-bullying and sexual harassment policy
It will now be a legal requirement for employers to have in place a written policy against bullying and sexual harassment within the workplace. That policy must contain certain terms, including:
- a statement that employees are entitled to a workplace free from bullying and sexual harassment;
- a statement that the employer will make “every reasonable effort” to ensure that no employee is subject to bullying or sexual harassment;
- details as to how complaints may be brought to the employer’s attention.
The Act also includes definitions of “sexual harassment” and “bullying” that employers are required to replicate, in substance, in their policy. Many employers already have anti-bullying and harassment policies in place. These policies will need to be reviewed for compliance with the new rules.
Employers will also be subject to a broad obligation to ensure that “procedures are put in place to assist every employee in understanding the policy”. This arguably places employers under a positive duty to deliver anti-bullying and sexual harassment training.
Currently, there is no statutory limit on the length of an employee’s probation period and the employer may terminate without notice and for any reason during probation. From 1 June:
- Probation periods for new or promoted employees will be capped at 6 months;
- Employees will be entitled to a review of their performance no later than the halfway point of their probation;
- Following this review, the employer may extend the probation period for a maximum of 3 months;
- Employers may only dismiss an employee without notice during their probationary period for a reason relating to the employee’s performance review, performance, conduct, or the operational requirements of the employer’s business (as well as serious misconduct).
These changes will limit an employer’s freedom to use probationary periods. In providing that employers may terminate without notice only for specified lawful reasons, the legal protection for employees on probation will be brought closer to that for employees who have passed probation.
Before making an employee redundant, employers will now be required to provide them with certain information, including the reasons for the proposed redundancy and the number and categories of employees affected by the redundancy situation. The employee must also be consulted on possible measures that could be taken to avert, minimise or mitigate the adverse effects of the redundancy. These steps must be taken at least 14 days before giving notice of termination.
This is the first time that employers will be subject to a statutory obligation to inform and consult with all employees regarding redundancies. Previously, these steps were only required for employees represented by a trade union or other representative.
Statement of Employment
Additional matters will now need to be set out in the ‘statement of employment’ required to be given to all employees under the Act, including:
- their entitlement to rest days and meal breaks;
- their entitlement to overtime pay or hours in lieu, and the method of calculation;
- where applicable, the fact that the employment is pursuant to a work permit and the expiry date of that permit; and
- the existence of the employer’s policy on sexual harassment and bullying and how that policy can be accessed.
Leave and break entitlements
Leave and rest break entitlements will be amended as follows:
- Meal breaks – Employees who work five or more continuous hours will be entitled to be given 30 minutes for a meal break;
- Ante-natal care – Employees will no longer have to complete one full year of continuous employment before being entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments;
- Bereavement leave – An employee whose immediate family member has died is entitled to bereavement leave. The definition of “immediate family” is to be expanded from the employee’s spouse, child, parent, sibling or household member to now include grandparents, great-grandparents, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Further notable amendments to be introduced from 1 June include:
- Changes to the regime by which employers can dismiss an employee for repeated acts of misconduct;
- An extension of the time limit for bringing complaints under the Act, from three months to six;
- A new power for the Government to issue guidance for the purpose of determining “whether a relationship more closely resembles that of an employee than an independent contractor”, which will be of note to any company which engages self-employed contractors.
The changes discussed above are part of the Government’s intended modernisation of Bermuda’s employment legislation. While some are relatively minor tweaks, others are more substantial and will involve a material change to current HR practices, as well as updates to handbooks, policy documents and statements of employment. There are also new issues for employers to consider on termination, whether during or after probation.
Anyone with any questions about these amendments can contact a member of our Employment and Immigration Practice.
Appleby announces Partner and Counsel promotions
Appleby has promoted four lawyers to Partner and eight to Counsel across its Bermuda, British Virgin...
The Bermuda Monetary Authority’s ‘Insurance Sector Operational Cyber Risk Report’ for 2022
Over the last few years, financial service regulators around the world have recognized the critical ...
Bermuda Economic Substance Regulatory Update: Changes to Non-Resident Entity Requirements
There is an exemption from the economic substance requirements for entities that are resident for ta...
Appleby supports International Women's Day 2023
Appleby is proud to support International Women’s Day (IWD) and this year’s campaign theme of #E...
Appleby Bermuda Top-Ranked in Corporate, Dispute Resolution and Insurance
Appleby is ranked in Band 1 across all categories, with 9 lawyers also ranked by leading legal direc...
Top tier rankings for Appleby in Chambers Global 2023
Twenty-eight lawyers from across Appleby’s Bermuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, ...
Appleby provides offshore perspective on fund finance laws and regulations in 2023
Fund finance specialists from Appleby have authored the jurisdictional chapters for Bermuda, the Bri...
Appleby Bermuda Expands Corporate Practice with Two New Lawyers
Leading offshore law firm Appleby is delighted to welcome Jane Walker (Senior Associate) and Hailee ...
Three Appleby Lawyers Called to the Bermuda Bar
Appleby is pleased to announce Associates James Batten, Katie Blundy and Carl Meyer were called to t...
Private Client Global Elite recognition for eight Appleby lawyers
Strong Appleby representation in the 2023 edition of the highly respected Private Client Global Elit...