Not a cent!

That’s what the court ruled is due to rank and file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, who’d sued the government for overtime payment.

The landmark declaration was issued by the full Court of Justices David Batts, Cresencia Brown Beckford and Tara Carr Friday morning when the matter came up for mention in the Constitutional Court.

The court also ruled the government has until March next year to implement a mechanism which computes overtime hours worked by rank and file police officers.

Stevian Sappleton reports.

The claimants in the matter were Corporal Rohan James and Nigel Murphy on behalf of the Jamaica Police Federation and a Doris Stewart.

The defendants included the finance ministry and the national security ministry.

The claimants argue they sued the government out of frustration because they failed to keep their promise.

According to a contractual agreement between the government and the Jamaica Police Federation, the government was to establish a system of computing overtime hours of rank and file officers, as the existing mechanism is unreliable due to integrity issues.

That was agreed to be implemented by March 2010.

The agreement also included the government’s obligation to establish a 40 hour work week for the police, with officers being compensated for overtime hours worked.

According to the court’s judgement, in the interim, both parties agreed the officers would be paid for an additional ten hours per week, whether they worked those hours or not.

The system has not yet been implemented and the police continue to receive that additional ten hours pay, to date.

The court agrees the claimants are contractually entitled to have the system implemented.

However, the court dismissed the claimants submission seeking compensation retroactively computed from April 2008 to present for overtime hours actually worked in that period.

The claimants also sought damages.

According to the judgement, the court agrees with the defendants that the agreed ten hours overtime payment accepted until the computation system was in place, represents agreed liquidated damages.

The court ruled that there’s no prospect for loss as a result of the government’s failure to establish the system, because the officers agreed to receive payments for the additional ten hours whether they’d worked or not.

The court also agrees with the defendants that there is no scope for an award of constitutional damages, as payments for the additional ten hours represent compensation for the disappointed legitimate expectation.

It says the court considered whether a nominal award would have been appropriate noting the government’s breach of its agreement with the police federation.

But it says the federation repeatedly signing to allow the government more time to implement the computation system, signalled the breach was either waived or there was indeed no breach.

The court, however, ruled the government has until March 2023 to implement the system.

During the court matter, the defendants admitted the process is already underway to implement the system.

The court had heard testimony of a technocrat at the Constabulary explaining that budget allocations were made and the system would be implemented by March 23.