Video: Minister Hayward Press Conference

February 4, 2021

[Updated] Minister of Labour Jason Hayward is holding a press conference this afternoon [Feb 4], and we will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 19-minute replay is below

Update 2.48pm: Minister Hayward’s remarks:

Good day to members of the media and the listening public.

Countries worldwide are tasked with implementing effective policy solutions to address the unanticipated social and economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In these unprecedented times, leaders and governments must ensure that they remain resilient and laser-focused on implementing critical policy responses.

In this vein, the Ministry of Labour is working toward achieving its mission of “establishing effective policies that help foster the expansion of jobs and economic growth.” In doing so, the objectives of the Ministry are:

  • To utilise labour policy to minimise the adverse effects of the global pandemic on our labour force;
  • To provide social support and employment services for Bermuda’s unemployed and underemployed population; and
  • To facilitate the requisite supply of labour for jobs demanded by the labour market.

The direct linkage between employment and the state of our economy is evident. Therefore, we must meet our objectives to ensure that our economy works best for all Bermudians.

To address our economic condition, the Ministry is using managed immigration as one of the strategic tools to support economic growth. While this tool will assist in improving the economy, we recognise that it will not be enough. The initiatives undertaken by this Ministry attest to its steadfast commitment to remedy the social and economic challenges facing Bermuda.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this Government has provided over $58M in unemployment benefits to assist those displaced from the workforce. This critical policy intervention provided social protections to many Bermudians.

Through Financial Assistance Reform initiatives, we are repositioning the Department so that employment support is a critical and mandatory feature provided to every able-bodied individual receiving benefits. The reform aims to strengthen education, training and employment services to recipients of financial assistance. There are currently approximately 400 additional families receiving social and economic support from the Department of Financial Assistance to help sustain them since the onset of the pandemic.

This Government made a promise to the people of Bermuda that no person shall go hungry. As the Minister of Labour, my goal is to ensure this promise is kept.

To provide financial protection for all Bermudians in the event of job loss, the Ministry is establishing the Unemployment Insurance Program, which will ensure funds are readily available when needed. Consultation with stakeholders has already begun in this regard.

Additionally, the Wage Commission, chaired by Mr. Cordell Riley, will recommend minimum and living wage rates to help support struggling families whose wages do not cover their basic needs. The aim is to increase the quality of life for low-income earners, allowing persons to provide for themselves and their families.

After receiving the Wage Commission’s report, the Government will table a Wage Bill in Parliament that will establish a statutory minimum wage and a national living wage.

Improvement of productivity is one of the critical components needed to facilitate meaningful growth in the economy. To create an environment conducive to productivity and empowerment of the labour force, the Government provides additional benefits and protections through our strengthening of the Employment Act. The amendments that now form part of the law entitles employees to a 30-minute meal break after working continuously for 5 hours; it ensures employers have a workplace policy against bullying and sexual harassment and revises what constitutes an independent contractor to avoid abuse.

In response to the economic crisis, the Ministry of Labour unveiled the National Reemployment Strategy in September 2020, designed to get people back to work. The overarching objectives of this strategy are threefold: to reduce current unemployment, to prevent future unemployment, and to facilitate the ease of finding employment.

In order to meet these objectives, the strategy focuses on:

  • Creating employment opportunities
  • Enhancing the supply of labour
  • Promoting equality and equity in the labour market
  • Building a more robust workforce through information, training and education

To promote job opportunities for Bermudians, the Ministry has placed a moratorium on 41 additional occupations which now brings the total number of closed job categories to 53. They include administrative assistants, handymen, HR officers/managers, reporters/journalists, waiter/servers, and electricians. This decision restricts employment for guest workers’ while enabling Bermudians to take advantage of more available jobs.

The new St. Regis hotel is scheduled to open in April 2021. The Government has been working directly with St. Regis to ensure that Bermudian hospitality professionals and Bermudians interested in working in the hospitality industry have the opportunity to work at the hotel.

Reemployment strategy initiatives undertaken to date include the following:

  • Utilising professional recruitment agencies to match talented workers to local job opportunities by connecting qualified Bermudians to employers with current job vacancies.
  • Facilitating training and development programs which have provided reskilling and upskilling opportunities to over 110 people in the following categories:
    • Cleaning Technician Training
    • Administrative Assistant Training
    • Horticulture Training
    • Learn-to-Earn Restaurant Training
    • Food & Beverage Waiter Server Training
    • Computer Literacy Training
    • Digital Literacy for Administrative Professionals
  • Implementing the Graduate Training Program that provides paid internships allowing young Bermudians to gain industry experience in their area of study and benefit from expert guidance to build their personal brand. Additionally, all participants will receive career readiness training that will include modules on:
    • Developing Your brand
    • Emotional Intelligence and Communication
    • Diversity and Inclusion
    • Office Etiquette

The Government will continue to work on behalf of the people of Bermuda. In that regard, the Ministry’s sole focus is leveraging the Departments within its purview to effectively and strategically help get our economy back on track and achieve a productive workforce that is even better than pre-COVID.

While much has been done to support our people, this Ministry recognises that we have much more to do. The Government, however, cannot do it alone. Our success as a country will only come about through partnerships with local businesses. Together we can and must do our part to create an environment that provides opportunities for Bermudians, especially our young people who have the skills to excel in the workplace.

It is through working together that Bermuda will see its best days.

I urge persons currently seeking employment, to register with the Department of Workforce Development to take advantage of the current and future opportunities.

Read More About

Category: All, News, Videos

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “the Ministry is establishing the Unemployment Insurance Program, which will ensure funds are readily available when needed. Consultation with stakeholders has already begun in this regard”

    It is all very well and good to give away money, but where is that money coming from? The Minister of Finance has already said we are back in the habit of deficit spending and that must stop. Bermuda has no savings. If we had savings, we would not be borrowing money every year to support our spending.

  2. Ringmaster says:

    Surely BIU members have the benefit of the fund maintained by the Union to help unemployed members? I’m sure I recall in the 1980′s this amounted to many millions of dollars and so should be even larger now.