Belize is located on the northeastern coast of Central America. English is the official language although a form of Belize Creole is spoken throughout the country in formal and informal settings. Spanish is also spoken by portions of the population. Historically, the economy in Belize has centered around agriculture, however in recent years the tourist industry has grown considerably. Economic stability and access to Central American markets are considerations for businesses considering Belize for an expansion choice.
Employment contracts in Belize may be expressed, implied, written, oral, for a fixed term, for an indefinite term, individual or collective. Oral contracts are not valid and binding unless the employee’s work has begun within one month from the date of the contract. The first two weeks of an oral contract shall be deemed to be probationary employment and may be terminated at will by either party without notice. The parties may agree differently. Employment contracts that last more than three months must be in writing with the consent of the employee.
A written contract shall include the following details:
The appropriate period of notice to be given by the party wishing to terminate the contract, wages and benefits or any other specifications. Any written employment contract must be presented to the labor officials within seven days of its start. Every worker who enters into a contract shall be medically examined at the expense of the employer. Fixed-term contracts are limited to one year and may be extended to two years if the employee is accompanied by his family.
The standard workweek is 45 hours with nine hours a day over six days. Employees receive an hour of daily rest if the workday is longer than six hours. Overtime is paid at a higher percentage rate if worked on a Sunday or public holiday or a different percentage if the work occurs on Christmas Day, Good Friday or Easter Monday.
Employees receive 16 days of fully paid sick leave in a year if they have 60 days of service and a medical certificate. This certificate must specify the duration of leave and be presented to the employer within 48 hours of the illness for the employee to be eligible.
Female employees receive 14 weeks of maternity leave with at least two weeks before the birth and seven after the birth as mandatory leave if they have a year of service, otherwise the leave is unpaid. The employee’s job is protected during this period, but they must submit a medical certificate at least 10 weeks before the due date.
Belize has no bonus payments mandated by law.
Employees receive 10 days of paid annual leave after one year of employment and it should be taken in one period. It can be extended to two periods if the employer agrees. Annual leave must be taken within six months of being earned.
The following public holidays are observed in Belize:
The state provides universal healthcare that is free or low cost. Companies offer supplementary private healthcare insurance.
The notice period is a week for up to six months of service, two weeks for up to two years of service, four weeks for up to five years of service and then eight weeks beyond this. The first two weeks of service are the probation period and contracts can be terminated during this period without notice. Those employees with five to 10 years of service with the same employer, retiring after 60 years old or for medical reasons, receive a week of severance pay for each year of service when their contract is terminated. Those with more than a decade of service, receive two weeks of severance pay per year of service if their contract is terminated for retirement, medical reasons or end of contract, but not for dismissal. An employee who resigns with 10 years or more of service receives a payment that’s equivalent to the severance pay. For casual workers, they must work 180 days a year to receive severance.
We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.
Our team of regional experts are here to support you with your global expansion plans. If you have any questions, just get in touch and we will be delighted to help.