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Employment Law in Guernsey

Guernsey (formally the Bailiwick of Guernsey) is a Crown dependency of the United Kingdom (though not itself part of the UK). It is self-governing and has its own independent legislature (the States of Deliberation), government (the States of Guernsey), and legal and judicial systems. The UK is largely responsible for Guernsey’s formal international representation and Guernsey is included in many conventions to which the UK is a party, including those on human rights. Guernsey is part of a Common Travel Area with the UK, Ireland and other Crown dependencies (Jersey and Isle of Man), with few immigration controls between these territories.

The main items of employment legislation are the:

  • Employment Protection (Guernsey) Law, 1998, which deals with notice periods, unfair dismissal, written statements of reasons for dismissal and Sunday work by shop workers

  • Conditions of Employment (Guernsey) Law, 1985, which deals with written statements of the main terms and conditions of employment, and payslips

  • Minimum Wage (Guernsey) Law, 2009

  • Industrial Disputes and Conditions of Employment (Guernsey) Law, 1993

  • Prevention of Discrimination (Enabling Provisions) (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2004

  • Health and Safety at Work etc (Guernsey) Law, 1979.

The above laws on discrimination and health and safety have little substantive content but enable the Government to make detailed ordinances, of which the most important are the:

  • Sex Discrimination (Employment) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 2005, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex, marital status and gender reassignment

  • Maternity Leave and Adoption Leave (Guernsey) Ordinance, 2016, which deals with maternity leave, adoption leave, maternity support leave, adoption support leave and time off for antenatal care

  • Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987, which sets out the main health and safety duties on employers and employees.

Other laws of relevance to employment include the: Population Management (Guernsey) Law, 2016; Data Protection (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2017; Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) (Guernsey) Law, 1993; Human Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2000; Protection from Harassment (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2005; Social Insurance (Guernsey) Law, 1978; and Rehabilitation of Offenders (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2002.

Officially approved codes of practice based on legislation play an important part in areas such as redundancy and disciplinary procedures: while these codes are not legally binding, their provisions are taken into account in proceedings over relevant matters at the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal.

Employment legislation in Guernsey deals with only a limited range of issues, in comparison with most other European jurisdictions, not least because Guernsey has never been part of the European Union or required to implement its employment law. There is currently no statutory regulation of areas such as working time, rest breaks/periods, annual leave, parental leave, care leave, sick leave, fixed-term and part-time employment, temporary agency work, discrimination on grounds such as race, age, disability or sexual orientation, sexual harassment, equal pay, transfers of undertakings, most aspects of industrial relations, and employee information and consultation.

The other main sources of employment law are common/customary law, case law (especially that of English courts) and employment contracts. Collective agreements also play a role, but mainly restricted to the public sector.

Employment Law in Guernsey: Quick Facts
  • In general, all individuals require a certificate or permit issued by the governmental Population Management Office in order to live and/or work in Guernsey. Recruitment and Selection

  • Not later than four weeks after employment starts, the employer must give the employee a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment, covering specified matters. Employment Contracts

  • There are few specific statutory rules on fixed-term contracts, for example stipulating the cases in which they may be signed or restricting their duration, while temporary agency work is also subject to little statutory regulation. Employment Contracts

  • The method and frequency of payment of wages are not governed by statute, though employers are obliged to provide employees, on or before the day of each payment of wages, with a written payslip containing specified information.Pay and Benefits

  • Apart from income tax and social insurance contributions, the employer must not make deductions from an employee’s wages without prior agreement unless authorised by the employment contract. Pay and Benefits

  • Almost all employees who are over the compulsory school age must be paid at least the statutory minimum wage: there is an adult rate for those aged at least 18 and a young persons’ rate for those aged 16 and 17. Pay and Benefits

  • There is no statutory regulation of working time, part-time work, rest breaks/periods, annual leave or paid/unpaid time off on public holidays. Working Time, Rest and Holidays

  • Working mothers are entitled to 12 weeks of basic maternity leave (two weeks of the leave are compulsory) and, if they have at least 15 months’ service, 14 weeks of additional maternity leave: the leave is unpaid but the employee may be entitled to social insurance benefits. Parenthood and Work-life Balance

  • If an employee is entitled to take basic maternity leave, her partner is entitled to take two weeks of unpaid maternity support leave after the birth.Parenthood and Work-life Balance

  • Pregnant employees are entitled to take paid time off during their working hours to receive antenatal care. Parenthood and Work-life Balance

  • Employees have no statutory entitlement to sick leave or to sick pay from their employer. Parenthood and Work-life Balance

  • Employers must not discriminate in relation to employment on grounds of sex, marital status, gender reassignment, race, disability, carer status, religious belief or sexual orientation except where the law provides for a specific exception to be made. Equality and Discrimination

  • Employers must make reasonable adjustments to remove the disadvantage created for applicants and employees by a disability or long-term impairment. Equality and Discrimination

  • Employers must not discriminate against employees on grounds of childbirth, adoption and related leave and time off. Equality and Discrimination

  • Employees have a right to form and to join, or not join, trade unions, and have protection from dismissal for various trade union-related reasons. Industrial Relations and Collective Rights

  • There is little or no statutory regulation of most areas of industrial relations, and employees do not have a right to strike. Industrial Relations and Collective Rights

  • Employees are not entitled by law to elect representatives for any purpose, and employers have no obligation to inform or consult employees or their representatives on any issues. Industrial Relations and Collective Rights

  • Employers have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees, and must comply with various specific health and safety obligations, while employees have certain duties and rights in this area. Occupational Health and Safety

  • Employees have the right not to be unfairly dismissed and the employer must have a fair reason for dismissal — these mainly relate to the employee’s capability/qualifications, conduct or redundancy — act reasonably and follow a fair procedure. Termination of Employment

  • In most cases, employees must have at least one year’s service in order to bring a claim that their dismissal is unfair, but there is a range of reasons for dismissal that are “automatically” unfair and employees dismissed on these grounds may claim unfair dismissal without any qualifying period of service. Termination of Employment

  • In dismissing an employee with at least one month’s service, employers must normally observe a statutory minimum notice period: however, an employer may dismiss an employee without notice by reason of the employee’s conduct. Termination of Employment

  • If the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal finds a dismissal to be unfair, it will award the employee up to six months’ pay (reinstatement is not an option). Termination of Employment

  • There is no specific statutory regulation of employees’ position when the business they work in is transferred from one owner to another, and their employment contracts are not transferred automatically to the new owner. Other Key Issues

  • Shop workers have certain rights not to be dismissed, or to suffer any other detriment, for refusing to work on a Sunday. Other Key Issues