‘Be Closely Scrutinizing Our Work Permit Policy’

May 29, 2020

“We will now be closely scrutinizing our work permit policy as there are a significant number of Bermudians who are unemployed,” Minister of National Security Wayne Caines said, adding that “in this current climate, work permit approvals are not guaranteed.”

Speaking at last night’s [May 28] press briefing, Minister Caines said, “For work permits that will expire between June 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020, work permit holders can continue to work without penalty or the need for an appeal to the Minister responsible for Immigration.

“Lastly, while this Government recognizes the significance and sensitivities associated with the topic of immigration, as a country we are facing times of the likes we have never seen before.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in business and economic uncertainty and widespread unemployment globally.

“Consequently, here at home, as we progress forward, we will need to review, reassess and reevaluate our immigration policies and procedures in order to adapt to these unprecedented times.

“More specifically, we will now be closely scrutinizing our work permit policy as there are a significant number of Bermudians who are unemployed.

“We must now look at closing certain categories. Quite frankly, permission to reside and seek employment is going to being assessed on a case by case basis.

“Employers and guest workers must understand that in this current climate, work permit approvals are not guaranteed. In instances where there are clearly opportunities for hiring Bermudians, work permits will be denied.

“And as a result in some of these cases, guest workers may need to leave the island if their work permit is not granted.

“We will make every effort to balance the need for work permit holders who provide specialized services to remain in those roles.

“However, in these cases, the local business must provide training, development and succession planning for Bermudians to take over in these roles.

“Bermudians also have a responsibility. They must retrain where necessary, and they must be willing to work in other areas of industry that they may not be used to.

“Ultimately, this Government has a responsibility to ensure Bermudians have access to employment opportunities.

“We’ve heard the heartache of our people who have been left without work due to Covid-19. We’ve heard the devastating accounts of Bermudian families who during the economic shut down have been desperately trying to make ends meet; who have been desperately trying to pay mortgages and rent; and who have been desperately trying to put food on the table for their children.

“These are real accounts from people who we know — our brothers, our sisters, our close family members, our neighbours and our friends.

“So this Government is urging our businesses as they reopen – to consider hiring out of work Bermudians to provide a service in their establishments.

“If a Bermudian can do that job instead of a guest worker, than the Bermudian worker should take precedence. During this time of uncertainty, we must all do our part to help and support one another. And our businesses have a significant role to play in ensuring that Bermudians are employed.

“Finally, the public is reminded that they can report any immigration breaches via the Tip Line at 296-5202 or they can call 295-5151, ext. 3514, 3515, 1951 or 1694.”

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Comments (18)

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  1. Mondo says:

    Hon.Wayne Caines your doing a very good job considering the Covid-19 pandemic and current economic climate in Bermuda.

  2. Here we go again says:

    Same old protectionist policies that got us into this mess of lack of overseas workers and no one to pay taxes needed to support Bermudians! This is just a political pandering tactic as you continue to blame others for our lot in life and that’s how fear wins elections! Politricks 101!

    Dumb and dumber is all I can say!

  3. Problem with that is Bermudians will not allow themselves to be exploited.

    • sandgrownan says:

      Bermudians have a sense of entitlement.

  4. Guy Carri says:

    Sooooo……what have they been doing all this time?……

  5. Sandgrownan says:

    Doesn’t the work permit policy do just that already?

  6. Codfish says:

    I completely support the examination of work permit applications on a case-by-case basis, but please support struggling businesses by understanding that just because a Bermudian applicant can do part of a job, or has a certification in something relevant, that doesn’t mean that they can replace a work permit holder who has years and years of experience that is necessary to do the job. Please talk to the employer, understand the requirements of the job and the complexities of the role so that a fair decision can be made.

    I know of a case where an employer is in this position at the moment – they are advertising a position and have a Bermudian applicant that has some experience doing about 30% of the job and has done a course on the other 70%. There is no way that employer can hire him to do the work, but they are concerned that they will lose a integral part of their business (and a whole line of revenue) if the work permit of the incumbent is not renewed by Immigration on the basis that the Bermudian seems to have a roughly appropriate background. They are unable to hire and train the Bermudian because the only person who could train him is the current employee and the business can’t afford to have both working at the same time in the current economic climate.

    It’s very difficult to have Bermudians out of work, but equally, the key to re-employment is allowing businesses to operate successfully.

    • Workforce Development??? Fairness??? says:

      I understand that it is often easier for a Business to re-hire a Non-Bermudian who is already working for the company. I also understand that it is not cost effective for the business to have two people doing the job for a period of time. However, for the country – it is better in the long run. So maybe we need to look at how we the taxpayers (government) could subsidize this on the job training for a short period until the Bermudian is fully able to do the task at hand.

      The other question I ask, was this Non-Bermudian completely trained when thy arrived? I suspect not, because this is often the case. The Non-Bermudian grows with the job as he/she gains experience and is offered training courses over his/her work permit and then the Business says, oh the Bermudian is not fully qualified. This is the issue I deal with when I am trying to place young Bermudians in jobs!! Well maybe Immigration should look at the qualifications/experience of the Non-Bermudian when they were originally hired and compare it to the Bermudian now seeking a position.

    • Alberta says:

      Perhaps raising wages for Betmudians would greatly help. Minimal wage $25 per hour. Offer on the job training mandatory by the foreigner so when the foreigners contract expires the Bermudian can replace them. No need for a lot of foreigners in blue collar jobs eg nannys, care givers, waiters, store clerks, cashiers etc. with a minimum hourly pay of $25 it would help. This applies to all jobs. Assist Bermudians financially to be able to afford further education eg. Accountants, teachers, lawyers, doctors! Now is the time to resurrect Bermuda

  7. cpm says:

    The lady at TCD doing driving licence renewals needs to know that the taxpayer is paying her salary and she needs to change her attitude

  8. Ostrich says:

    Removing work permits from those who do excellent work does ensure a Bermudian will replace that role. The employer could simply have nobody to fill that position now and have to close up shop or go overseas which will further worsen the economic state. Must be solved by allowing more people to obtain citizenship and that could encourage them to bring a family or start a company in bermuda which will then be able to hire Bermudians. .

  9. Mixitup says:

    Sensible move.

  10. Not again says:

    Let’s drag up the same old electoral policies that don’t and never will help the economy. Come on Caines, it probably will get you reelected, but it won’t get you off the ground and you know it.

  11. Gary says:

    Doing a case by case review is good , may I suggest, where the prospective employee is 30 percent equipped that government provide some assistance to the company while he is trained by the current experienced work permit holder.

  12. Sandgrownan says:

    Just hire them all into the civil service?

  13. Yawn says:

    PLP hot air

    show us you are serious by implementing the following:

    1) from 1 June 2020 all ads on Bermuda Jobs Board must show either WORK PERMIT RENEWAL or NEW VACANCY, with a unique job reference number

    2) all applicants must send a simultaneous email copy of their job application, with the unique job reference to an email address that the Immigration Board sees before they rubber stamp the work permit application or renewal

    3) As Easy as 25 – 11 victory and ITS TIME TO PUT BERMUDIANS FIRST as promised in July 2017

    watch how steps 1) and 2) above WILL NOT HAPPEN, just like comprehensive immigration reform or dismantling the STATUS QUO has not happened

  14. Stubborn Not says:

    First step into the island’s full economic recovery! I hope to see other government’s specific action plans for this great island nation!