Increase Maternity Leave, Provide Paternity Leave

July 28, 2019 | 22 Comments

This Bill increases maternity leave and provides for paternity leave for the first time in the Legislation, Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports Lovitta Foggo said in the House of Assembly on Friday.

“The tabling today of the Employment [Maternity Leave Extension and Paternity Leave] Amendment Act 2019 is the first of a number of proposed changes to the Legislation that will be completed this year,” Minister Foggo said.

“This particular Bill fulfills the Governments platform and Throne speech promise to increase maternity leave and provide for paternity leave for the first time in the Legislation. The Bill also provides for flexibility in the use of vacation leave.”

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The Minister had previously said, “Currently employees who have been employed for one continuous year, are entitled to 8 weeks paid maternity leave. This will be increased to 13 weeks as promised in our platform and the Throne Speech. Employees who have been employed for less than one continuous year are entitled to 8 weeks unpaid maternity leave. This will likewise be increased to 13 weeks but again remain as unpaid.

“Provision for paternity leave. There is currently no provision for paternity leave and the amendments will allow for 5 days paid paternity leave for employees who have been employed for one continuous year, per calendar year and provide for 5 days unpaid paternity leave for employees who have been employed for less than one continuous year, per calendar year.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to provide to the Members of this Honourable House with an update on the progress of the Modernisation of Bermuda’s Labour laws that I spoke about on the 5th July 2019.

Mr. Speaker, the tabling today of the Employment [Maternity Leave Extension and Paternity Leave] Amendment Act 2019 is the first of a number of proposed changes to the Legislation that will be completed this year. This particular Bill fulfills the Governments platform and Throne speech promise to increase maternity leave and provide for paternity leave for the first time in the Legislation. The Bill also provides for flexibility in the use of vacation leave.

Mr. Speaker, further Legislation will be tabled later this year in this Honourable House to include:

  • The reduction from ten arbitration/assessor/tribunals in four Acts to a single Tribunal for all labour and employment matters. This will reduce the administrative costs and streamline the functions of the Tribunals;
  • Provision for zero tolerance of violence and harassment in the workplace. In keeping with the ILO adoption of the violence and harassment convention, the amendments will also deal with bullying, harassment and in particular sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers will be required to have in place a zero tolerance policy for harassment in the workplace and recourse for employees for any contravention of the policy;
  • Provision for current statements of employment to remain the same or benefits to increase in line with amended legislation, and not change or be altered to the minimum standard as set out in the amended legislation.;
  • Provision for probation periods for new employees to be fair and reasonable;
  • Streamlining the provisions relating to mediation;
  • The introduction of a civil penalty regime for certain specific offences and clear breaches of the legislation;
  • Provision for automatic certification for union representation when specific parameters are met;
  • Provision for confidentiality and protection of workers during application for union certification;
  • Reduction of response time by employers to an application for union certification; and
  • Provision for parties to agree Terms of Reference for disputes prior to reporting the dispute to the Labour Relations Section.

Mr. Speaker, other matters still under review and consideration include:

  • Employment protections for persons who are currently designated as non-employees including for example casual, temporary, part-time workers;
  • Protection for employees who are coerced into working overtime for straight time wages;
  • Tips and gratuities and who should rightfully receive them;
  • Managing expectations regarding out of hours contact for employees. The issue is when an employee, including a public officer, is issued with a work cell phone, the expectation is that the employee be available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week including vacation with no break or additional remuneration;
  • Protections for employees who have been promoted; and
  • The status of a union bargaining unit when a sale or merger occurs.

Mr. Speaker, as many of these changes have been agreed by the social partners, including the unions and employers, we look forward to this House taking a bipartisan approach similar to the Wage Commission Bill, when we return for the debate following the summer recess.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Good Job - Hard Hit says:

    While I agree that this is a good idea in theory it comes at the worst time for employers, particularly those in retail. Another cost expected to be absorbed by employers.

    Retailers are struggling to compete against the Amazon’s of the world that have an advantage on ALL costs and shipping because of their sheet volume. Why government continues to knock us while we are down is confusing to me. They raised foreign currency exchange, raised payroll tax, health insurance, tax dividends and now this! All at a time when retail sales continue to decline.

    Meanwhile local charities, sports teams, schools, events and organizations are looking for donations, prizes and sponsorship more than ever before. I don’t see Amazon or other etailers doing anything for Bermudians! Why are local retailers paying the same import duty as the individual that purchases from Amazon etc! The companies have a huge advantage when it comes to costs and don’t have to pay payroll tax, company registration fees, liability insurance, health insurance, TCD, corporation taxes, refuse dumping fees at tunes bay, vacation pay, sick days, holiday pay, pension, and so on! They don’t sponsor a single even or team. They give nothing back to the community and don’t have to play by the same rules. Why PLP are you kicking us while we are down!

    • Toodle-oo says:

      * Why PLP are you kicking us while we are down ? *

      Because of the way you look ! You ought to know that by now .

      • Did you complain when Americas Cup brought in EVERYTHING duty free?

        • question says:

          For which the cost to Bermuda businesses was zero.
          While the AC increased economic activity in Bermuda by $355m.

        • Yes Eye says:

          Didn’t have to complain OJ. You did enough of that for everyone. And not everything was free so stop with the lies.

          Ask around OJ. Ask the supermarkets, the hardware stores , the real estate people, the banks, the tourist shops, the hotels, the gas stations, the restaurants, the wholesalers, and local farmers and fisherman if they were busier during AC or now.

          What do you think OJ?

    • Sarina D says:

      Honestly, we’re not talking about a huge increase here, it’s setting the amount of maternity leave from 8 weeks to 13 weeks, and paternity leave is a measly 5 days. Most employers just have another staff member carry the slack during that time, exactly as if the person was on vacation or medical leave.

      Retailers shouldn’t be complaining if government decides to enact (long overdue) benefits for workers, especially considering how the taxpayers were subsidizing the retailers for quite some time with the retail tax relief plan. Government has to work for BOTH sides (employers and employees). Also, retailers aren’t going to receive ANY sympathy from the public considering how retailers have been riping off shoppers for years. Even with the business costs you mentioned above, a 300% mark-up on goods is simply not justified.

      • Good Job - Hard Hit says:

        Sarina let me ask you these questions. Do you see more businesses opening or closing in Bermuda right now? Do you see more people being hired or unemployed right now? Are retail sales figures up or down?

        Let me explain something to you about your delusional belief that the taxpayers carried the burden while government offered their tax relief plan! Retailers must pay all sorts of taxes and fees to government just for the “priveledge” of of being in business! They pay import duty which is 25% before they ever sell them and even if they don’t sell. Government gets our money BEFORE we ever make a penny! Businesses alsso pay wharfage, customs clearance fees, THF fees, payroll tax, pensions, wages, sick days etc whether or not those goods ever sell. And if a business makes money – they tax extra on dividends too!

        If you believe that they are doing us a favour by giving us “tax relief” just know that we pay a ton of money out to government well before we sell anything! Remember this GOVERNMENT gets its money from taxing and taking from businesses, not the other way around. Just because they took less for a short period should make anyone cheek. They had to lower taxes because their policies drove people away and ruined the f’n economy! Takes were raised by this same government because they needed us to pay for all that they were wasting! What do we have to show for the billions spent So if you want to cheer for them, go right ahead but don’t you dare suggest that they are doing us any favours by taking less! Perhaps they wouldn’t need to take as much if they didn’t waste so much!

      • Good Job - Hard Hit says:

        And Sabrina…Im not sure what you do for a living and how much you get paid. However I trust you likely get paid 2x 3x or more than someone in a similar position living in the US UK Canada but that is okay right? You can make 2-3x more but you don’t expect to pay more for the goods you buy.

      • Question says:

        It’s this kind of thinking that ends up with the civil servants getting 35 days vacation and 70 days sick leave every year.

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        Sarina,

        The increase is 5 WEEKS, not 5 days.

        5 weeks wages for a retail worker is about $4,000 per employee. In addition to that $4,000 expense, someone has to pick up the slack at work. Does the PLP Government expect me and someone else to work 16 hours a day instead of 12 or is my boss expected to lay out an additional $4,000 for part time help, bringing the burden on the employer to $8,000 per employee? Which course to you suggest? And what about my Christmas bonus? Is that going to be what pays for all this additional expense?

  2. Worried Local says:

    Might as well hand over the employee all the company’s money then. Gov is broke, let’s make all the BDA businesses broke as well!

    • Well after 400 years of not paying wages, it should be no problem.

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        Yes, OJ, we know. Slavery in Bermuda was not abolished until after August 2012.

        Question, OJ. Why did the PLP Government not abolish slavery between 1998 and 2012?

  3. Birdlegs says:

    While I agree this is what is necessary, a small business with a small number of employees is going to get clobbered. Government, please look at the system where employers pay into a central fund and maternity leave is paid from that. I believe Canada might have this system. As a very small employer I could not survive at this new level. It would put me under.

  4. Vida Smith says:

    Check out the UK, and Europe and see how many weeks are given for
    maternity leave,but people are always critical of a black government
    no matter where.

    • 2woke says:

      Hey Vida…now check Canada…that country you hate so much…see how well Canadians…and the Bermudians who use Canada for education and medical visits, are treated….It’s very good.
      You’ll also be shocked to know that the Canadian government doesn’t class itself by skin colour….like you do.

    • Ya, like no one making noise that British Airways is threatning to strike.
      But they have a Trump clone in charge so they have their own issues.

      • Things a Gwan says:

        OJ. British Airways threatens to strike and they give notice and will try and talk it out first. Then if that fails they inform all parties that there is no resolve they will strike. Not like our Unions. Gotta have a meeting…stop working. Gotta gripe about something….stop working. PLP needs support….stop working. Someone get fired stop…stop working.

        Do you remember the last time that someone was one BA flight or any other airline for that matter, when the flight was cancelled because tge staff just decided to stop working because of a “meeting”. No? I didn’t think so.

  5. Guy Carri says:

    yep. Win some votes by increasing the cost to do business in Bermuda (because it isn’t high enough…) since it costs you nothing. This gov are pro’s at increasing costs.

    Want to increase mat leave, why don’t YOU foot the bill?!?!?! Companies are sinking on a regular basis and the PLP thinks it’s a great idea to increase the overhead further. On top of the dividend tax.

    The gov has NO CLUE how to run an economy or even a simple business.

    We are doomed. Wake up Bermuda. This gov has NO CLUE!!

  6. Small Biz Owner says:

    As a mother I understand the need to be home with a newborn. However as a small business owner this is probably going to be the nail in my business. Small businesses are struggling just to survive with most of us carry a large debt, robbing Peter to pay Paul. Parents have options (vacation leave, unpaid leave, etc). Please, Please think long and hard about this. It is great to compare how much leave one gets in other countries but make sure you investigate the entire situation around why and how that country is able to do that. Someone mentioned the UK but failing to mention that there are other options provided by that Government to help support parents financially (Sure Start Maternity Grant, Child Tax Credit, etc). We don’t have that here so is that going to be offered along with this change??

    I also see that someone is saying it is a “measly 5 days” and I can almost bet that this person does not own their own business. Everyone has all the suggestions on how it can work but do you actually own your own business. You might see it in a different light when you are on the other side of the fence.

    And lets just put it out there that not all small businesses are retail. Alot of us did not benefit from a break for 3 years.

    • PBanks says:

      I think it’s important for Govt to take into account the impact on small business and provide appropriate relief as warranted (the nature of which, I don’t necessarily know, based on the businesses impacted).

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