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Supreme Court orders gov't to set up police overtime system

The Supreme Court has ruled partially in favour of the Police Federation in relation to overtime payment for rank and file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

The Police Federation filed a lawsuit in 2019 against the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of National Security, the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner complaining that its members had been working more than 40 hours per week without being paid.

The Federation argued that this was in breach of the 2008 heads of agreement.

On Friday, the full court panel, comprising Justice David Batts, Justice Cresencia Brown Beckford and Justice Tara Carr, ruled that each of the heads of agreement between the Federation and the ministries are binding on the government.

This, the court said, "created a legitimate expectation" from rank and file police officers that they would be paid for the overtime they worked.

The government has been ordered to put in place by March 31, 2023 the system it said was needed to properly quantify the overtime hours of the police so that members can be accurately compensated. 

But the court sided with the government by not granting damages to the Police Federation, pointing out that rank and file officers had accepted a 10-hour overtime payment from the government, regardless of actual hours worked, until the new system was put in place.  

The court said that this continued payment essentially represented agreed liquidated damages.

The court has ordered that the government must continue to pay the 10 hours of overtime for police officers until March 31, 2023, by which time the new system should be in place.  

The government should also pay the Federation's legal fees.