Workers' rights hit Jersey

Jersey society is about to experience employment laws for the first time

The island's workers have virtually no rights despite neighbouring Guernsey having introduced a raft of employment legislation half a decade ago. Jersey lawyers have expressed a desire to avoid legislation that will open the floodgates on employment claims as, they say, has been the case in England.

Such concerns are expected to be raised by Cherie Booth QC when she visits Jersey on 27 June. Deborah Lang, managing partner of Jersey law firm Bailhache Labesse, which is hosting Booth's visit, said: “All this could open the floodgates, with everyone making claims for dismissal as you do in the UK. We don't need to introduce legislation to that extent.”

The draft legislation bill, Employment Jersey Law, introduces a minimum wage modelled on the UK version but with slightly higher rates to reflect the higher cost of living. It also includes a so-called minimum rest period of one day off in seven, slightly less appealing than the EU directive on workers' holidays.

The biggest change is the proposed introduction of unfair dismissal. Previously employers could fire staff without fear of sanction. Mat-thew Thompson, Ogier Group head of litigation, who has been involved in the consultation for the legislation, said: “Em-ployers have a choice about how they let someone go. They keep that choice, but if it's not done for fair reasons it will lead to an additional penalty and adverse publicity.”

Separate legislation at draft bill stage proposes a general discrimination law and trade union legislation, which did not previously exist.

Jersey is also planning to introduce human rights legislation.