An employee employed since 1996 by a company providing handling services at Juliana airport last October seized the justice of Sint Maarten to claim the additional salary he estimated his employer owed him between 2020 and 2021.
The context of the case is that of the economic crisis due to the pandemic: air traffic having decreased by 70% at the airport, the turnover of the said company fell. So the boss has put in place social measures to get through this difficult period: elimination of seven jobs following retirement, taking 10 days of leave and payment of 100% of wages until April 14, then until June 30, reduction of working hours and payment of 80% of wages, from the 1 stJune taking the other days off, resuming work by being multitasking with a salary of 80% and working time accordingly, if the employee refuses to be “multitasking”, his working time and his salary are reduced by 50%. All of these measures were negotiated and signed by the union of the company’s employees.
The court considers that the boss was in his right to take measures to adapt to the economic context and that these are valid insofar as they have been discussed and validated by the union which represents the staff, including the employee. , it cannot therefore contest them. The court also considers correct the decision of the boss to temporarily ask his employees to do tasks that they were not necessarily used to doing, “some employees being at home, the teams in place must carry out their missions”.
On the other hand, the judges ruled in favor of the employee on the following point: his boss should not have paid him only 50% of his salary because he had considered that he had been reluctant to be versatile and thus be paid to 80%. Indeed, the employee claimed a medical certificate attesting that he was not in physical capacity to accomplish the tasks which were requested of him. “If the employer had any doubts about the medical certificate, he could have sought the advice of another doctor, which he did not do. He simply interpreted the employee’s refusal as reluctance, ”commented the judges. Also they have they condemned the boss to pay the difference in salary (the sum corresponding to the difference between 80% and 50%) to an employee from 1 st July 2020.
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