The Constitutional Court has turned down a claim by the Jamaica Police Federation on behalf of rank-and-file police personnel, for overtime payment for work done beyond the normal 40-hour work week.
However, the court has given the Government until March 2023 to put in place a mechanism that can efficiently capture and log overtime work done on authorisation by rank-and-file police personnel in order for them to be compensated as per the volumes of overtime work which are required of them.
In response to the development, the Finance and the Public Service Ministry noted that in respect of Claim No. SU 2020 CV 01635 involving Rohan James and Nigel Murphy (on behalf of members of the Jamaica Police Federation) and Doris Stewart (the “Claimants”) v Ministry of Finance and Public Service, Ministry of National Security, Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General of Jamaica, judgment was delivered on Friday morning by the Constitutional Court consisting of Mr Justice Batts, Mrs Justice C Brown-Beckford and Miss Justice T Carr.
Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, in a release on Friday afternoon, said throughout the court proceedings with the federation on the captioned matter, “I took the position to maintain a disciplined silence on the issues before the court because of my respect for the judicial process, which is protected by our constitution. Now that a judgment has been delivered, I offer this statement:
Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke.
“The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) is respectful of its contractual obligations pursuant to the various Heads of Agreement signed with the Jamaica Police Federation. We therefore welcome the outcome of the court proceedings.
“As paragraph 3 of the judgment noted, the material facts in this matter were not in dispute. An important fact which was missing from public discourse on this matter, however, is that the GOJ and the Jamaica Police Federation agreed in 2008, that all rank-and-file members of the police force would receive pay for an additional 10 hours (added hours), whether or not they worked in excess of 40 hours (per week). This was to be implemented until a system that could capture actual hours worked was in place.
“The Jamaica Police Federation and the Government of Jamaica affirmed the ‘added hours’ arrangement in several Heads of Agreement entered into since 2008. In addition, since 2008, the Government of Jamaica has paid this ‘added hours’ to all rank-and-file members of the Jamaica police force.
“What was in dispute was the interpretation and implication of the facts. Despite its efforts, the GOJ has not yet implemented a system for capturing actual hours worked by rank-and-file members of the Jamaica police force. On this basis, the claimants sought compensation retroactive from April 1, 2008 to the present, for overtime actually worked across this period.
“The judgment delivered today (Friday) found that there is ‘no scope’ for such a payment, given the ‘ten-hour overtime payment’ agreed to and accepted by the GOJ and the Jamaica Police Federation since 2008, and which has been and continues to be paid.
Jamaica Police Federation Chairman, Corporal Rohan James.
“The Government, through the Ministry of National Security, has commenced the process of procuring the system for capturing the actual time worked by police officers. This work commenced some time ago, and the Central Government budget submitted to Parliament in February 2022 contains amounts dedicated to the payment for this system.
“During the trial, a public officer from the Ministry of National Security provided this evidence to the court and further provided the timeline for its implementation. It is my understanding that the order made for the implementation of this system is consistent with the evidence of the existing timeline given to the court, and the GOJ is committed to complying with same.
“I end by thanking the members of the Jamaica Police Federation for their committed service to the country as we work towards a better Jamaica for the benefit of all. During the time that this matter has been in the judicial process, the GOJ and the Jamaica Police Federation have been able to work together and make progress in many other areas. We look forward to continue working with the Jamaica Police Federation on ways to improve the welfare of rank-and-file members of the Jamaica police force.
“We also thank the members of the Constitutional Court for the considered judgment, and thank the team at the Attorney General’s Chambers who faithfully represented the Government in this matter.”
Earlier on Friday, the legal team for the federation responded to the judgment in an interview which was captured in video and is carried below.