Defining the Contract of the Employee

Prepared by Wayne Walrond Assistant General Secretary

Where the worker controls the manner in which the work is carried out and has the freedom to engage his or her services outside the contractual arrangement, a contract for service can be deemed to exist despite the factor of mutuality of obligation being present.

THE PART TIME/CASUAL WORKER arrangement can be a complex issue in determining the contractual relationship. The law courts have not depended solely on the mutuality of obligation test in determining whether a contract for service exists for part time workers.

Statutory provisions have been made to protect part time employees by granting benefits based on serving minimum periods of employment hours worked weekly and aggregated periods of employment. In Barbados, an employee must work for at least twenty-one hours per week as one of the conditions to qualify for severance. A person can qualify for unemployment benefit under Barbados National Insurance Scheme by being insured for at least one year and having paid at least twenty contributions.


There needs to be an understanding between parties in their contractual relationship so that the required obligations are upheld. Workers can be placed at a disadvantage where they are incorrectly treated as independent contractors. Many contemporary work arrangements cannot be simply characterized as master/servant where the issue of control is not clear cut. Several other tests must be applied to arrive at making an accurate interpretation as to whether the contract is one “for service” or “of service”. Each contract must be judged on all its facts even where a number of similarities may be identified in case law.

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