Ministry of Labour & Social Security

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About Us


The Labour Division of the Ministry commenced operations in 1938 as an Employment Bureau. The Bureau was the first official response to growing unemployment, which was spreading throughout Jamaica during that period.

The relationship between employer and employee at the time was one of master and servant. This gave rise to grave economic disparities within the population as most persons received low wages and had poor living and working conditions.

In response to a need for social programmes, which catered to all sections of the population, a planning team was established in the Ministry of Labour to develop a social security scheme. The Ministry obtained technical assistance from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to develop proposals for this scheme. The National Insurance Scheme Act was passed in 1965 and became effective April 4, 1966. When the Scheme was established, it incorporated the Sugar Workers’ Pension Scheme.

The Social Security Division of the Ministry evolved from this as programmes were added to address the needs of vulnerable groups within the society.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is still concerned with matters affecting individuals in their capacity as workers, employers and members of the country’s labour force. These matters include industrial safety, employment promotion, providing a source of income for workers who are injured on the job, and retirement benefits


To contribute to national development through the provision of efficient and effective labour and social security services within the context of a globalised economy.


To promote a stable industrial climate through tripartite dialogue, ensure the highest standards of occupational safety and health at the workplace, facilitate increased access to employment and effectively manage social protection programmes including those for groups with special needs such as households below the poverty line, the elderly and persons with disabilities.


This Labour division aims to:

    • promote good working relations between employers and workers whether or not they are organized in trade unions;

    • establish and maintain a system of minimum wage rates for the protection of workers who may not be unionised;

    • promote good labour standards and measures to improve the working environment and terms and conditions of employment;

    • ensure the provision of a safe working environment;

    • assist unemployed persons in securing employment which is satisfactory to
      them and at the same time beneficial to the society.

    • operates an effective system to facilitate the flow of information between job seekers and employers and the education and training system;

    • promote the development of the Jamaican labour market within context of the global economy;

    • enhance economic development through the promotion of productivity growth;

    • inform and sensitise the Jamaican labour force about issues related to the CSME.

The main responsibilities of the Labour Division of the Ministry are administered through the following sections :Industrial Relations, Manpower Services and Occupational Safety and Health.


is responsible for the promotion and maintenance of industrial harmony in the nation. It is divided into five sections:

1) Conciliation

This is performed in respect of industrial disputes relating for the most part to wage and

fringe benefit negotiations, disciplinary matters and union claims for representational rights.

The Pre-Conciliation Unit which is an arm of the Conciliation Section provides advice and other assistance with the aim of fostering improved relations between management and labour, thereby facilitating a more cooperative industrial relations environment.

2) Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT)

Industrial disputes which are not settled by conciliation are referred to the IDT for settlement by arbitration.

3) Pay and Conditions of Employment

This branch ensures the maintenance of minimum standards set out in the various labour laws relating to notice pay, redundancy pay, holidays with pay, maternity leave, national minimum wage and the minimum wages in certain trades, which are announced from time to time.

4) Minimum Wage Advisory Commission

- Advises the Minister on all matters relating to national minimum wages and other minimum wages which may be fixed under the Minimum Wage Act.

- Obtains and records information in relation to wages and other remuneration, terms and conditions of work and other factors affecting the circumstances of employment, and keeps them under continuous review.

- Makes recommendations to the Minister from time to time regarding the category of workers in relation to which a minimum wage should be fixed, the wage to be fixed and other related matters.

5) International Labour Agency/Information

Performs duties in respect of Jamaica’s obligations as a signatory to the International Labour Organizations, (ILO).

This unit also liases with International Agencies such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations Development Programme, (UNDP) and CARICOM, among others, concerning labour matters, on behalf of the Government of Jamaica.

International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)

The International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour seeks to:

    • provide a comprehensive information system that incorporates quantitative and qualitative information on child labour that is being used for policy and programme development.

    • strengthen the institutional capacity of the relevant institutions of the GOJ and civil society to enforce child labour laws and to develop and implement policies and programmes towards the prevention of child labour.

    • withdraw and rehabilitate children from hazardous work and prevent them from engaging in child labour.

    • enhance public awareness on the complex problems associated with child labour.

6) Employees Share Ownership

Investigative Unit

This Unit was established to investigate complaints received from either a participant, his personal representative or the trustee of an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) regarding the operation of the Plan.


The Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC) is a tripartite organization comprising representation from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF), and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU). The Centre’s mandate is to stimulate a high level of national awareness of the concept of productivity and inculcate a productivity-sensitive culture in Jamaica through advocacy, knowledge generation and dissemination, and provision of technical assistance services.


is responsible for the Overseas Employment Programmes, local employment and the granting of work permits.

The overseas Programmes are divided into :-

  1. the United States Farm Work Programme;

  2. the United States Hospitality Programme;

  3. the Canadian Farm and Factory Programme; and

  4. the Guantanamo Bay Programme.


Provides at no cost to the public, effective employment facilities including an electronic job matching system and labour market information to satisfy the needs of job seekers and employers. The department provides a cost-effective means for the employers to source suitable candidates and a conference room facility is also provided where employers may conduct interviews.

All jobseekers are required to be registered, interviewed, classified and screened before being referred to employers for possible placement. The facility is also provided for job-seekers who do not have access to computers, to attend any parish office and receive assistance. Job-seekers within Kingston and its environs are able to use computers in the Labour Exchange Centre to conduct job search, post resumes and apply for jobs.


This unit monitors Employment Agencies to ensure that these Agencies are registered and licensed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to place persons in employment both locally and overseas. It also ensures that the Agencies operate within the Employment Agencies Regulation Act.


Grants work permits and exemptions, based on the requirements of the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens ( Employment) Act as well as the CARICOM Community (Free Movement of Skilled Persons) Act 1997.


The OBJECTIVES of this Division are to:

  • modernize and improve the administration of the Social Security system for more efficient operation;

  • strengthen the social protection system in keeping with government’s policy to reduce poverty;

  • adopt a developmental approach in the provision of social assistance benefits to promote human capital investment and thereby reduce dependence on the state;

  • ensure the operation of an efficient, objective and

  • transparent Beneficiary Identification System for social assistance;

  • expand coverage under the National Insurance Scheme by ensuring compliance, in accordance with the provisions of the National Insurance Act;

  • ensure prudent management of the National Insurance Fund for long term sustainability and provision of improved benefits;

  • promote social integration of vulnerable groups and groups with special needs;

  • ensure equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities;

  • promote active and productive ageing and ensure the full participation of senior citizens in all aspects of national life;

The work of the Division is carried out through the following programmes:- PATH and Public Assistance, Administration of the National Insurance Scheme; Programmes for persons with disabilities and Senior Citizens.


The National Insurance Section is divided into nine branches namely Contributions, National Insurance Fund Account, Investments, Local Office Administration, Records Maintenance, Computer Network, Claims and Benefits, Employment and Injury Benefits and International Social Security. The main functions are to:

  • identify insurable persons;

  • register insured persons and employees;

  • collect National Insurance contributions;

  • award benefits under the National Insurance Scheme;

  • See to the functioning and management of the investment portfolio of the National Insurance Fund;

  • Provide pensioners with health insurance under NI GOLD.


The NIF secretariat is responsible for managing the assets of the National Insurance Fund such that growth is realised over time.


The responsibility of the Public Assistance Department includes;

  • The administration of the PATH Programme;
  • Providing assistance in the form of Rehabilitation and Compassionate Grants and Emergency Relief to persons in need.


This programme was created to;

  • Alleviate poverty by increasing the value of cash transfers to poor families;

  • Increase educational attainment and improve health outcomes of the poor by breaking the inter- generational cycle of poverty;

  • Serve as a safety net by preventing poor families from falling further into poverty.

Rehabilitation Grants

  • Are for persons who have met with misfortune which has interrupted their ability to earn an income.

Compassionate Grants

  • assists persons in need of speedy assistance who are unable to access assistance from other programmes.

The Emergency Relief

  • Provides assistance for persons who have been affected by misfortune such as fire and flood.


The Foundation provides high quality vocational training for persons with disabilities to enable them to function as creative and productive citizens.


Persons with disabilities are provided with educational, vocational and social opportunities. The Council assists these persons with skills training and self-help projects so that they can earn an income.

Services provided by the JCPD are executed by the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), and the National Vocational Rehabilitation Service (NVRS). The NVRS caters to adults aged 18-59 years.

The Early Stimulation Programmme

  • provides an assessment and early intervention programme for children with disabilities from birth to six years old.


The Council works in collaboration with international and local organizations to promote programmes which enhance the well being of our senior citizens. Its target group is persons within the society who are 60 years of age or older.

  1. Finance and Accounts

This Section plans, manages, directs and controls the resources of the Ministry in a manner that enables the provision of timely, efficient and effective service delivery. It also records the Ministry’s transactions, protects its assets and provides timely reports.

  1. Internal Audit

This Unit conducts inspections of the records of the Ministry and its agencies.

  1. Human Resource Management and Administration

The responsibilities include the provision of adequate, competent and suitable personnel. It facilitates in-service training for all levels of staff locally and internationally.

This Section is also responsible for the provision of proper accommodation and equipment within the Ministry.

  1. Legal Unit
This unit provides the necessary legal support services for the Ministry’s programmes.
  1. Planning, Research and Monitoring
Accurate data and other labour market information are provided on a timely and consistent basis in response to the needs of the Ministry and its clients. This Section is also responsible for the formulation of a Corporate Plan for the Ministry and monitors the achievements of each Section on a quarterly basis.

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