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Laws of Eve | Helpful legal tips for the new year

Published:Monday | January 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMSherry-Ann McGregor


1. Overtime Pay


The typical work week in Jamaica is 40 hours, whether it is based on the traditional Monday-to-Friday arrangement, or in keeping with the agreement between the worker and employer under the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act, which came into effect on November 25, 2014. Some workers believe that any period of work that exceeds 40 hours in any given week, may attract overtime pay. But this is not so. As long as a worker earns more than the national minimum wage, any entitlement to overtime pay, must be based on the negotiated employment contract.


2. Bonus Pay


There is no statutory provision that requires employers to pay bonuses. However, some contracts of employment may make specific provision for the worker to receive a bonus or, where the employer customarily paid a bonus without clearly stating that it was a gratuity (paid out of kindness), it might be implied that the employer has a contractual obligation to make such a payment.


3. Who owns the Christmas gift


Three things characterise a true gift - the intention of the giver to give, the delivery of the item to the intended recipient, and its acceptance by the intended recipient. Generally, if all three elements are satisfied, ownership of the thing that is given will pass from the giver to recipient, who can then re-gift it, discard it, or use it as he or she sees fit and the giver has no legal right to demand its return. However, a court could set aside a gift, and order its return to the giver if, for example, the recipient defrauded the giver, or if the giver was coerced into giving the gift.


4. 'You broke it,



you bought it'


Going into a store that has fine crystal or other glass objects, can be quite daunting, especially if you have a child in tow. Many stores have signs that say, "You broke it, you bought it" (or some similar phrase). There is no statute that makes such a provision, and there is no automatic common law obligation to pay for something you broke in a store. Accidental breakage could have occurred without any liability on the part of the shopper, and even if the shopper is liable, he might only be obligated to pay the replacement price for the item, rather than the price for which it was displayed for sale.


5. Beware the Christmas baby


In harsh economic times, most persons are able to shower their loved ones with lavish and expensive gifts, but love remains free. Perhaps this is why one study suggests that more babies are conceived at Christmas and, therefore, born in or around September than at any other time in the year. A word to the wise is sufficient: without proper precautions, that love you give at Christmas may result in maintenance payments for a lifetime.


6. Lost luggage


Holiday travel is usually very traumatic without adding lost luggage to the list of woes. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer that fate, you might not be happy with the response from the airline, because the agreement you made when you purchased your ticket has prescribed limits to what you might be able to recover. For example, you may need to make a claim within a short period of time, produce receipts to prove your loss and, even then, you might recover no more than approximately US$1,600. Perhaps you may wish to consider insuring valuable property you must transport on an aircraft.

Each of the items above could be a topic on its own, so please do not substitute these notes for specific legal advice from an attorney of your choice.

I wish everyone a healthy, happy, peaceful and productive 2018!

- Sherry Ann McGregor is a Partner and Mediator in the firm of Nunes Scholefield DeLeon & Co. Please send questions and comments to or