Column: Working Hard On Behalf Of Workers

December 1, 2021

[Opinion column written by MP Michael Weeks]

The Government continues to work hard on behalf of the workers of this country. With the most recent amendments to the Employment Act the Government has demonstrated its commitment to ensure workers’ rights are protected in the workplace.

Additional rights include the following:

  • A requirement for employers to provide a written policy against bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace and advise how it can be accessed;
  • A requirement for employers to provide employees with a midway performance review during their probationary period to identify areas for improvement;
  • Expanded Bereavement Leave to include grandparents, great-grandparents, grandchildren and great grandchildren;
  • A requirement for employers to pay any wages and other remuneration or benefits owed to the employee upon termination within seven days or at the next interval that the employee would have been paid; and
  • A requirement for employers to provide their employees with a meal break of at least 30 minutes after the employee has worked continuously for five [5] hours.

In addition to those progressive changes the Minister of Labour has publicly announced that he will be considering further employee protections which include:

  • A requirement to notify the Ministry of Labour where an employer intends to engage in mass terminations of more than 20 persons – This will enable the Ministry to provide the necessary assistance in a timely manner to employers, as it relates to compliance with the Act, as well as to employees, as it relates to seeking alternate employment and/or retooling them for the labour force;
  • Determining what constitutes the end of a layoff period – This will ensure that when recalling employees to work, there are measures in place that protect employees from consecutive layoff periods and clearly defining the end of the lay off period;
  • The publication of employment standards – This will ensure that all employed persons, particularly work permit holders, are aware of their rights and obligations under the Act and who they may contact for assistance;
  • Workplace inspections by the Labour Relations Manager – This will ensure that employers maintain adequate employment records in accordance with the Act and that employees have the appropriate access.
  • Wage theft protections – This will strengthen employee protections ensuring that there are adequate provisions to protect employees from employers who:
    • fail to pay employees for all hours worked,
    • fail to make appropriate overtime payments,
    • fail to allocate tips to employees, and
    • illegally deduct or fail to make the appropriate statutory benefit payments.

Please do not get distracted by those that seek to misrepresent or underrepresent the work that is being done to protect our people. The rights of workers remain at the forefront of the Government’s agenda.

The changes made and the proposed changes under consideration demonstrate that the PLP Government is laser focused on ensuring that workers are protected in the workplace. Workers can continue to expect that their rights will be protected under the helm of a labour government.

- MP Michael Weeks


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