Minimum Working Conditions
Employees are entitled to a minimum wage regularly adjusted, taking into account the country’s inflation rate. There are several minimum wages in the Dominican Republic, depending on the sector and the size of the company. In effect, the Dominican Republic’s minimum wages are determined by the National Salary Committee. In the Dominican Republic, employees have the right to compulsory health insurance and a pension plan, financed through mandatory social security contributions from both the employer and the employee.
Salary must be paid in cash, by check, or by direct deposit to the employee’s account at a bank or other financial institution and it can be paid for hours, days, weeks, fortnights or months. It is forbidden to pay the salary for periods exceeding one month. The law prohibits paying wages through the issuance and delivery of cards, vouchers, certificates, etc. Salary includes cash payments of wages, bonuses, commissions, benefits in kind and any other amount or benefit given to the worker for his work; it does not include profit-sharing payments. The employer may not, under any circumstances, charge interest for the employee’s debts with the employer, nor may the employee’s wages be embargoed, except for the payment of alimony to the spouse. Several minimum wages are regularly adjusted according to the size and sector of the company. The current minimum wages have been in effect since July 2021. There has been a median increase of 24.2% in the minimum wage in the private sector. This 24.2% rise represents an increase of 3,389.74 Dominican pesos for the higher minimum wage (large companies). For the other two wages, there was an increase of 7,142.92 Dominican pesos and 2,170.78 Dominican pesos, respectively.
Maximum Working Week
The regular work period cannot exceed eight (8) hours per day and 44 hours per week. One (1) hour of rest for lunch is mandatory for employees who work more than six (6) hours a day. Employees also have the right to a weekly rest period of 36 hours. The Labour Code establishes three types of shifts: Day shift (work performed between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM); Night shift (work performed between 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM) and Mixed shift (work that includes periods of both the day shift and night shift). The weekly work shift usually ends at noon on Saturday. This provides employees with 36 hours of continuous rest. Any other working hours arrangements must provide the same minimum 36-hour continuous rest period.
The weekly work period cannot exceed 44 hours and the daily work period of eight (8) hours. In practice, most employees work Monday through Friday and a half-day on Saturday. Article 203 of the Labour Code establishes that the employer will pay each hour that exceeds the limit of 44 hours per week at 135% of the regular hourly wage. Article 204 establishes that the employer will pay each hour that exceeds 68 hours per week at 200% of the regular hourly wage. Night hours are paid with an additional increase of 15%. All employees are entitled to overtime pay, excluding company directors, managers and persons in trust positions.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
A system of procedures to protect employees from accidents during working hours has been established. The requirements at the national level of employers concerning: 1) the prevention of accidents and damage to health that occur or are related to work activity, or that arise during such activity; and 2) minimising the causes of hazards inherent in the work environment. Employers have to provide a healthy and safe workplace (both physical and psychological) following the labour authorities’ instructions. Employers in specific industries must provide employees with work clothes, work tools and protective equipment and must take preventive measures to avoid accidents.
Due to COVID-19, companies that are currently operating from their worksite(s) must have a hygiene and safety protocol to ensure a healthy work environment for employees and to minimise the risk of transmitting / spreading the virus. Such protocols include, among other measures, conducting daily health checks, frequent cleaning and disinfection guidance, implementing policies and practices for social distancing, encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace and, where appropriate, improving the building’s ventilation system and having a protocol in place for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Employees could file a claim with the union representatives or labour authorities to complain about the employer’s failure to comply with health and safety obligations. Labour authorities can inspect the workplace at any time and order the employer to remedy any non-compliance, impose fines and close establishments. Employees can file labour claims while working, or after the termination date, demanding rights related to the employment contract. There is no specific legislation on retaliation in the Dominican Republic. However, the Labour Code is based on the principle of good faith. Every relationship in the workplace should be based on this principle. Retaliation is an act of bad faith and it falls on the plaintiff to prove the act of bad faith.