English Speaking Policy Under Consideration

October 3, 2018

[Updated with video + remarks] An English Speaking Work Permit Policy is under consideration, and the Minister is expected to hold a press conference to provide details later today [Oct 3], the Ministry has confirmed.

What appears to be a draft document of the potential policy states, “While it is appreciated that employers in a number of industries are finding it more and more difficult to recruit from English-speaking countries, it is unacceptable to have foreign nationals serving persons, whether it is in a restaurant, a hotel or a rest home, who cannot communicate effectively in English. It is dangerous in a job where one has to also read prescriptions or the labels of dangerous chemicals.”

Immigration Law on notepaper and the US flag

The job categories apparently being considered are those in industries “where the job holder interacts with the public or in jobs where lives could be threatened if the person cannot speak or read English,” the document states, adding those could include Restaurant/Food Service and Hotel Worker; Health Professionals and Caregivers in Nursing Jobs.

The document — which has not officially been confirmed but is understood to have been circulated to some stakeholders for consultation — states that workers from countries where English is not the first language may have to provide evidence they have “successfully passed an English as a Second Language programme.”

“The employer is required to show evidence that the applicant has successfully passed an English as Second Language programme by submitting the document with the work permit application,” it states.

“The policy cannot be proactively policed by the Department of Immigration without incurring great expense in time, money and manpower,” the document states, so they “will either react to complaints” from the public or if “public officers witness this deficiency themselves.”

The document further notes that if the language test results indicate that the person is deficient in their ability to speak English, “the employer and employee will be advised that the Minister is considering revoking the work permit; both parties will be given 14 days to provide a written response as to why the Minister should not revoke the work permit.”

The phrasing of the consultation document is similar to a policy announced back in 2010.

The Minister is expected to hold a press conference on this matter at around noon, and barring any issues or changes, we will update this article with the live video, which we will also carry live on Bernews Facebook page.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 14-minute replay is below

Update 1.44pm: Speaking at today’s press conference on this matter, Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown said, “The English Speaking Work Permit Policy, currently out for consultation, seeks to ensure that foreign nationals hired by employers to work in serving positions – whether it’s in a restaurant, a hotel or a rest home – can communicate effectively in English.

“Also, it is dangerous, for example, to have a non-English speaker employed in a job where one has to read prescriptions or the labels of dangerous chemicals.

“It is for those reasons that the Department of Immigration is seeking to put into effect the English Speaking Work Permit Policy.

“The job categories that are being targeted by the new policy are those in industries where the job holder interacts with the public or in jobs where lives could be threatened if the person cannot speak or read English, namely:

  • [a] Restaurant/Food Service and Hotel Workers: such as cleaner/houseman; room attendant; pot washer; cook/chef; waiter; food and beverage server; maitre’d; kitchen porter; counter person; counter chef;
  • [b] Health Professionals, including but not exclusive of: physician; pharmacist; nurse; nursing aide; physiotherapist; occupational therapist; radiological technician; social worker; and
  • [c] Caregivers in Nursing Jobs: nursemaid/nanny/child caregiver; caregivers of geriatric employers and patients in nursing homes.

“For workers from countries where English is not the first language, a condition would be placed on the work permit under this new Policy stating: ‘Applicant must provide evidence he or she has successfully passed an ‘English as a Second Language’ programme.’

“The employer would be required to show evidence that the applicant has successfully passed an ‘English as Second Language’ programme by submitting the document with the work permit application.

“Under this Policy, the Department of Immigration would investigate complaints from members of the general public that work permit holders cannot speak or understand English. In circumstances where the individual is already working in Bermuda and where a complaint is lodged against him/her, he/she will be brought into the Department of Immigration and given an English language test.

“If the test results indicate that the person is deficient in their understanding of and/or ability to speak English [i.e. they fail the test], the employer and employee will be advised that the Minister is considering revoking the work permit; both parties will be given 14 days to provide a written response as to why the Minister should not revoke the work permit.

“If the language test results indicate that the person is proficient in their understanding of and/or ability to speak English [i.e. they pass the test], they will be allowed to continue to reside and work in Bermuda for the duration of their work permit. In this case, the Department of Immigration reserves the right to recall the work permit holder for re-testing at any time.

“As mentioned earlier, the English Speaking Work Permit Policy is in circulation to key stakeholders for consultative purposes; the deadline for feedback is October 12, 2018. Depending on the extent of the feedback, I expect that this Policy will be implemented by October 19, 2018.”

The Minister also announced that in order to “provide greater assurance” that Bermudian tennis professionals are given fair employment opportunities, the Department of Immigration has introduced a new process of referring related work permit applications to the Bermuda Lawn Tennis Association. Details of that policy can be found here.

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Comments (56)

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  1. Mark says:

    Should apply to all employees – half of Onion Juice’s government can’t speak proper English.

    • dualpower says:

      Beat me to it!

    • Family Man says:

      If ur gonna make accusations like that you need to get pacific. We can’t just make acceptions two policies like that. If you don’t now then you gotta axe someone.

    • What is proper English?
      From what I read and heard its just English.

      • question says:

        So no point in having a test then.

        • sage says:

          I have to say I have never encountered a service worker who cannot speak english at all.

          • Charlly X says:

            I have and my order was incorrect! I strongly believe ,feel that all people coming to this Island to work from predominantly non English Speaking countries must take a competence test ! For the required job advertised !!! Once they are Here! Too Many Fake Credentials available online . Just because you are willing doesn’t mean you are able. Everything has a science and Safety comes First!!!!

      • Onion Joke says:

        Coherent well worded sensible sentences equals good English. Idiotic pointless comments from you equals typical incoherent PLP vitriol.

    • Sick comments says:

      Lie

    • Paul says:

      Talk about speaking english… did anyone understand a word that minister Walton Brown said today.

    • Peter Kovacs says:

      Some Bermudians should also try to pass this filter.

  2. Onion says:

    PLP are the party of Trump.

  3. question says:

    The first to take it should be Chris Furbert and Famous.

    And there should be a basic minimum IQ necessary for voting.

    • Well there must be something wrong with Government and private sector negotiators because for years Chris Furbert has been negotiating wages and benefits for workers and he along with his negotiating team do pretty good.
      Something most of you haters dont have a clue in.

      • Question says:

        She they shouldn’t mind taking some basic english and IQ tests then.

      • Jt says:

        **pretty well.

      • sandgrownan says:

        FFS

        Something most of you haters dont have a clue in.

        Something of which you haters don’t have a clue.

        Never end a sentence with preposition you nitwit.

  4. Family Man says:

    This is a policy right out of Trump’s playbook.

  5. sandgrownan says:

    I presume this also applies to the drooling idiots in the PLP?

    But of course, hot on the heals of the “low business confidence” report, and the fact that Dept. of Imm are taking an increasingly capricious attitude on permit application, this is yet another isolationist and insular view from our conservative government.

  6. Joe Bloggs says:

    I do not understand. Business confidence in Bermuda has “dropped dramatically”, there is “pessimism in Bermuda’s private sector” about the economy, and “concerns are increasing about taxation, the cost of doing business and Bermuda’s declining population.

    The Government’s answer is to make it harder to bring employees to Bermuda? The guest workers that do not speak English are employed in professional jobs, for the most part they are taking jobs Bermudians do not want. What is the problem?

    • sandgrownan says:

      The reality is, this is a diversionary populist tactic to take the focus off falling business confidence. Ironically, it makes that problem worse.

      The knuckle draggers will, of course, lap it up.

  7. Chauncey says:

    Yes, Christopher Famous might score a F (minus) in the English test.

    • Yo, ve bies don even watch all dem type a dings. Ve bies are going down de road and sit off and catch a wibe.
      Check you round de road bie.

  8. umdeUmUmUm says:

    Does it apply to locals too?

  9. No Name says:

    Why stop there, lets add accents as well! Irish/Scottish/Safas/St David’s….

  10. Truth be told says:

    The timing is beyond ironic! So this is the govt being more “open to business?”

    On another note, some of the hardest people to understand speak “Bermudian”.

    PSA: there’s mp “X” is the word “ask”.

  11. campervan says:

    The Depopulation Party continues on with its rabid Nationalism instead of focussing on business creation.
    All while the economy shrinks and folks move elsewhere.
    You couldn’t make this up.
    How long util we run out of money?

    • sandgrownan says:

      They are fundamentally stupid, so there is that factor. I wonder if there’s a playbook where they say “what’s the smart thing to do?” and then they do the exact opposite.

  12. Just a suggestion says:

    Role this out accross the board to every potential employee foreign and local alike. I will put next months pay packet that more locals will fail than “guest” workers. Better get new ink for the approved permit stamp. You will need it.

    • Rhonda says:

      Speaking English has nothing to do with one’s level of intellect…

      You do know that.. Correct..

      • Just a suggestion says:

        Yes I get that. Intellect is not what is being challanged. If you would read the statement and understand what was said it is that itellect as you put it is not being challanged. Its the persons ability to “speak and understand” english. Written in black and white above my friend

  13. Wexaxious says:

    This is making me wery, wery wexed, not to mention perplaxed.

  14. Wexaxious says:

    Also, Col has been strangely silent the last couple weeks. Maybe Minister Tittie Milk threw him for loop though I would have thought this one right up his ally.

  15. Dready says:

    The politicians need english proficiency tests!

  16. Hoot Owl says:

    Yes indeed…a person needing a heinlick manouver just able to say it once could get a negative response through mishundershtandin ayyy boi no…mi no doodatsh!!!

  17. Charlly X says:

    Smh why is it so Hard for People in this country to Stick to the subject at hand when they comment in blogs ? Most of you can read and spell,define words ! So why can’t we get moral debate . Solutions would help us all ! But it seems impossible because some of you have no intention of positive collectivity for Bermudians. Childish name calling but you want us to take you serious lol . Ooops bad word “honest” . And else for you hiding behind pen names … Punk Nuts ! Just Man Up . The island is already divided into 9 parishes . So let’s just give those that don’t want to be collectively Bermudian an island to live on . Somewhere close to Argus island n give them a target to hold up on clear sky days lol .
    This might not be pheaseable for those haters lol

    • Its a Historical complexity, for years they have had everything their way without being contested, now they’re acting like a bunch of spoiled undesreved privileged brats when they cant have their way.
      Suck it up because you have 4 more years to have your tantrums.
      LMAO

      • sandgrownan says:

        Unfortunately, the Bermuda economy won’t last four more years unless there’s some radical, dare I say progressive, action from the Government. It’s not about hate, it’s about common sense policy decisions and this isn’t one.

  18. Gustav says:

    Do all bermudians have to make a Test as well?
    It would Be neccessary

  19. rumsoak says:

    Does Chris Furbert speak English? I don’t understand a word that man says.