With a population of only 314,300 as of 2008, the government of Belize works hard to protect the rights of its citizens and workers. This includes legislation on wages, working hours and the prohibition of forced labor. Many of the country's labor laws originate from the Labor Act of 2000 and are maintained and implemented by the Ministry of Labor.
In 2006 the wages council of Belize conducted a survey among domestic business workers to find the average salary and set a minimum wage. From this survey the minimum wage for agricultural workers was set at $2.50 BLZ per hour and for manual and domestic workers at $3.00 BLZ per hour. Employers must pay wages directly to their employee and it is illegal to withhold monies, with the exception of cash advances, provident fund money and the cost of items lawfully supplied to the employee.
Under Belizean law, the working week is fixed at 45 hours per week with Sundays and public holidays allocated for rest. In the case of working overtime, an employee is entitled to one and a half times the normal hourly rate, with the exception of Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday, where double pay is the legal requirement. Employees are also entitled to a break of one hour in a shift of 6 hours or more.
Under the terms of the Trade Unions and Employers Organizations Act of 2000, all employees have the right to unionize. Once a union has been registered it is recognized by the Ministry of Labor and most workers have the right to strike without giving notice. In the case of "essential services" workers, such as health and postal workers, a notice period of 21 days must be given.
Forced labor, defined as "work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty", is illegal in Belize. This includes labor as a means of political coercion, as a punishment for striking or any other activity, or as a means of racial, social, national or religious discrimination. However, military work and labor carried out in a state of emergency are exempt from this law.
Child workers in Belize may not work below the age of 12, during school hours, before 6 a.m., or after 8 p.m. They are also unable to work for more than 2 hours on a school day or on a Sunday. With regards to their health and safety, they may not carry heavy weights or be employed in any job which could potentially cause harm or interfere with their education. Belizean law does not restrict the number of weekly hours that a child can work but forbids all minors from completing any overtime.