In the Commonwealth Caribbean, including Jamaica labour laws in industrial relations have relied heavily on legislative initiatives. These laws generally covered:  

·  Trade union recognition 

·   Establishment of collective bargaining apparatus 

· Encourage good industrial relations practices 

· Mechanism for statutory arbitration 

Labour laws in Jamaica may be divided into three broad categories:  

a) Employment law 

b) Industrial relations law 

c) Industrial safety law 

Employment Law is based largely upon the common law concept of the contract of employment. The Employment (Termination and Redundancy) Payments Act (ETRP) 1974 (Jamaica) covers the separation payment whenever an employee is being made redundant or terminated.

In Britain employment protection rights, includes sex and race discrimination, unfair dismissal, etc.

Industrial relations law is characterized by the principle of voluntarism. The Trade Union Act, 1919 (amended 1938), Labour Relations & Industrial Disputes Act (LRIDA),1975 provides a legislative framework for recognition, industrial dispute resolution and statutory arbitration.

Industrial Safety Law comprises of the Factories Act, 1943. Under section 12 of this act includes the provision. Therefore, the Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction Regulations of 1968 as well as the Docks (Safety, Health and Welfare) Regulations of 1968 provide the framework for these laws.

In Jamaica, there are no comprehensive industrial safety laws in place. However, in Britain, the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974 provides a guideline for health and safety act. Jamaica is, however, drafting legislation for a comprehensive Health & Safety Act.

Labour laws are enacted with three purposes:

Protective Legislations, Auxiliary Legislations and Restrictive Legislations.

Protective Legislations

The primary purpose is to protect the workers against unfair treatment, examples;

· Minimum Wage Act

· Factory Act (Occupational Safety and Health Act)

· Equal Pay (for Men and Women) Act

· Maternity Leave Act

· Employment (Termination and Redundancy) Payments Act

Auxiliary Legislations

Auxiliary legislation is intended to support the establishment of collective bargaining.

Laws that serve to advance the practice collective bargaining are;

· Trade Union Act (1919) is the piece of Jamaican labour legislation solely devoted to the entrenchment of a trade union movement.

· Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act (LRIDA)

The LRIDA Act provides for:

Registration of Trade Unions: Within 30 days of its formation, the union must apply to the registrar of trade unions for registration. Penalties are prescribed for failure to comply with this requirement and for continued membership in the unregistered union.

Membership: For people over 16 except that persons between 16 and 18 cannot hold offices such as Treasurer, Trustee or Committee Member.

Filing of Statements: Treasurer on or before Aug. 1 each year file audited statements providing information on revenues and expenditure as well as assets.

Peaceful Picketing: Persons acting on behalf of a union may, “in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute” may picket the employers’ premises peacefully. But they may not intimidate or to block entry or exit or to breach the peace.

Prohibition of Certain Practices: the use of violence or intimidation, following people from place to place, hide tools, etc.

Restrictive Legislation

Restrictive legislation is directed primarily at the trade union and is intended to limit the scope of their activity, particularly as it relates to the disruptive impact of industrial action, example LRIDA.