Fahy: Public Register For Work Permit Violations

June 19, 2013

In order to combat work permit violations, the Chief Immigration Officer will have the authority to administer fines up to $5,000, the Courts can order fines of up to $25,000, and a public register will be created where offenses/offenders will be documented, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said today [June 19] in the Senate.

The Minister said that after a detailed review of historical data, it has been determined that three forms of standard work permit violations occur: employing a guest worker to engage in work which is different from the work specified in the permit, employing someone who does not have a work permit, and falsifying or providing incomplete records.

Minister Fahy said, “To combat violations and send a strong deterrent message to employers it will be necessary to enhance the Department of Immigration’s enforcement powers by providing for the imposition of civil administrated penalties. The objective is to introduce progressive disciplinary measures for employers who violate the Act.”

“We have commenced consultation with various stakeholder groups and over the coming weeks we expect to conclude our discussions and invite the Attorney General’s Chambers to produce the required Bill for consideration during the current legislative session.”

Minister Fahy’s full statement follows below:

Madam President, I am pleased today to provide an update on policy work recently completed to create measures to discourage work permit violations.

Colleagues will already be aware that the current labour requirements experienced by many companies in Bermuda often need specific expertise where there is a shortage in Bermuda and thus the need for work permits. This notwithstanding whilst employers are feeling the need to look abroad for skilled workers, the Government must ensure the protection and promotion of the Bermudian workforce.

Generally, when a guest worker enters Bermuda he or she is required to have a work permit. Such a work permit is issued by the Department of Immigration pursuant to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956, and is to be granted by issuance of a labour market test, when the employer has demonstrated that there are no Bermudians available for the position, or to fill a labour shortage, or where other benefits could ensue. In each case, the entry of the guest worker into the Bermudian labour force is governed by the terms and conditions set out in the work permit.

Madam President, after a detailed review of historical data, it has been determined that three (3) forms of standard work permit violations occur:

  • Employing a guest worker to engage in work which is different from the work specified in the work permit;
  • Employing a guest worker who does not have a work permit; and
  • Falsifying or providing incomplete records or withholding data or information, or provision of incomplete and invalid data for application of a work permit.

Madam President, to combat violations and send a strong deterrent message to employers it will be necessary to enhance the Department of Immigration’s enforcement powers by providing for the imposition of civil administrated penalties. The objective is to introduce progressive disciplinary measures for employers who violate the Act.

The Chief Immigration Officer therefore will be given specific authority under the Act.

Two specific civil penalty regimes will be set out in the legislation. This includes the establishment of absolute offenses which will be dealt with as ticketable offences and also non-ticketable offences wherein civil penalties will be pursued via the Courts.

Tickets will be issued to offenders by the Chief Immigration Officer and a public register will be created wherein offenses and offenders will be documented.

More serious cases will be referred to the Courts. These matters too will be documented in the public register.

It is anticipated that the Chief Immigration Officer will ultimately have the authority to administer fines up to five thousand dollars for work permit violations, while the Courts will retain the authority to administer fines up to twenty five thousand dollars for work permit violations.

Madam President, the Ministry has reviewed Immigration Department work permit violations regimes in other jurisdictions including Cayman and the United Kingdom and I submit that the position that Bermuda seeks to adopt is consistent, though far more liberal than these jurisdictions.

Our aim Madam President is not to be draconian in our approach but rather to strengthen our compliance mechanism through updating our legislative infrastructure in an effort to encourage employers to comply. This will work in tandem with our ongoing effort to streamline work permit policies.

Madam President, we have commenced consultation with various stakeholder groups and over the coming weeks we expect to conclude our discussions and invite the Attorney General’s Chambers to produce the required Bill for consideration during the current legislative session.

Thank you Madam President.

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Comments (12)

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  1. CommonSensenBda says:

    For more than 13 years, the PLPbiu B*tched and Moaned about foreignors being hired over Bermudians and what did they do about it…NOTHING…JACK ALL.

    What has the O.B.A. did in it’s first six months, they ACTUALLY picked up the brass ring and TAKEN STEPS against an employer and are now strengthening LEGISLATION to FINANCIALLY penalize whose employers in their pocketbooks.

    What did the PLPbiu do, and what has the O.B.A. done. Do the math Bermudians.

    • G? says:

      How much you want to bet if the person is found guilty the O.B.A lets the person keep their work permit? hmmmmmmmm Only time will tell. Look at it on another angle the same legislation their pushing will effect the business of their own supporters. The majority of people that own their own business back the O.B.A last election buy giving donations toward the cause.

      Now we’ll see if the O.B.A Government delivers on it’s promise and bites the very hand that feeds them when it comes to Immigration problems.

  2. Jim Bean says:

    Even when there is good being done the PLPbiu diehard complain. Wth did PLP do? The oba seems to be doing eveything they said they would do!

  3. Victor says:

    I doubt many people realise how much illegal labour takes place in Bermuda – house cleaners, gardeners, tilers, mechanics, etc, expats and their spouses moonlighting on the side. The bad news is a severe clampdown might actually do serious harm to the economy and I hope the Minister has thought this through. I believe there are quite a few small but very useful enterprises that would simply shut their doors for good.

    • James says:

      Victor I agree with you 100%.

    • Tommy Chong says:

      I disagree with you that if these workers were sent back it would have a negative effect on the economy. These workers you pointed out are not the ones who made our economy boom pre plp. It was the IB workers that made our economy. The workers that use illegal means to stay here are here to save as much money as possible to send back home. Sure these workers got to eat but they know how to spend as little as possible on groceries & when it comes to eating out they get hookups from their mates working in restaurants. Sure they need somewhere to live but their bosses usually have a place for them to stay or friends who have accommodations that they rent out at a lower price than they would for a local. Sure they need to have transportation but many times they’re boss lets them use their second car as long as they keep it on their assessment number so TCD doesn’t catch on or they chip in together & get a communal vehicle that they can carpool in. As for insurance expenses, they are already here by illegal ways so this is an easy one to work around. These people don’t make Bermuda’s economy they take what they make & send it back to make their own economy stronger & are known for doing this worldwide.

      There are many Bermudians who work along side these people but are to foolish to realize while the Bermudian is given a 5 day work week the illegal worker is given a 7 day work week. While a Bermudian is given straight shifts these people are given regular shifts plus after hour shifts. While a Bermudian has worked in the job longer & has more experience the Bermudian is the first to be let go when its time to cut costs. If the Bermudian had this extra money in their pockets they would put it into our economy & make it stronger instead of it getting wired or bank transferred to another country.

      Get rid of these workers using underhanded tactics with the help of their boss & give the jobs to Bermudians & we will see a major influx in our economy.

  4. Michel says:

    Definitely believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people consider worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  5. Mills says:

    Can someone answer this question. Can a divorced U.S. spouse of a Bermudian married for less than 2 yrs still live and work in Bermuda?

  6. Mills says:

    What is the immigration law regarding this?

    • Watching On says:

      I too wish to know about this law if it is actually a law. Most Bermudians simply know is that once you divorce a Bermudian and have not been married for more than 10 years, immigration asks you to leave the island and you can’t work or live here.

      Honestly, I do think something is wrong with this entire spousal fiasco, but oh well.

  7. Mills says:

    Bernews, can you give me the answer to my question?