Archives: News

20 Apr
By: MLSS PR Unit 0

False Hope – Workers Resigning With Wrong Expectation Of Redundancy Payment

Scores of employees have been resigning from their jobs with the mistaken expectation that they will receive redundancy payments from their employers, a Ministry of Labour official disclosed yesterday.

“There’s a misconception out there among the public, especially employees, (that) when they resign, the company should pay them for their years of service,” said Patreena Minto-Powell, acting director of the Pay and Conditions of Employment Unit at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

She sees these types of cases almost on a daily basis but cannot give a specific figure as they do not qualify to be recorded as official redundancy complaints.

“When you explain to them, it is really sad because some of them resign after 15 years (of employment), but they didn’t take the opportunity to come (to the ministry) before.” Minto-Powell underscored the importance of persons contemplating resignation to first consult the labour ministry to help them make a more informed decision.

Helene Davis Whyte, president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, is aware of the issue and points out that more public engagement is needed.

“We have to be educating our members that resignation does not qualify you for redundancy payments because redundancy payments, under the law, are clear. They are made when companies are reorganising and positions have to be removed,” stated Davis Whyte.

Karl Williams, president of the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica, told The Gleaner that he was not aware of such incidents, but he presumed that it would depend on the industry and not include white-collar workers.

Close to 1,700 Jamaicans filed complaints regarding redundancy and termination last year at the labour ministry, which translates to a 10 per cent decline over 2016. Minto-Powell pointed out that grievances with companies are cleared up, in some cases, with a simple phone call or letter. Other interventions require mediation, and in extreme cases, court proceedings.


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The building which houses the Early Stimulation Programme, whose children stand to benefit from speech and rehabilitative physiotherapy sessions through the strengthened project. (Photo: JIS 20 Feb
By: Help Desk 0

Gov’t strengthening delivery of services to people with disabilities

THE Government will be strengthening the delivery of skills training and special education needs to poor individuals with disabilities during the new fiscal year.

This is through a $55.5-million allocation to the Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Project, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour of Social Security.

As contained in the 2018/19 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives, the funds will provide for employability and skills development of persons with disabilities aged 18 to 38.

It will also go towards speech and rehabilitative physiotherapy sessions for children up to six years who are beneficiaries of the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP).

Other targets include delivering workshops to parents of children with disabilities; procuring additional assistive aids; and procuring and implementing a management information system.

The Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Project is funded by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Government of Jamaica.

It was originally scheduled to run from April 2013 to June 2016, but has since been extended to August 2018.

So far under the project, a labour market study has been completed; training needs assessment for providers and organisations completed; and some 500 people with disabilities have been enrolled in a skills training programme, with 66 persons employed since participating.

In addition, an institutional review of the ESP has been concluded, assistive aids have been provided to 69 children with disabilities on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education, and a curriculum for the Parenting Intervention Programme has been developed.



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Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson (second left); Chairman, Jamaica Red Cross 70th Anniversary Committee, Silvera Castro (left); and President, Jamaica Red Cross, Dr. Dennis Edwards (centre), interact with students of Bridgeport High School, Kadian Smith (second right) and Natasha Morrison, during the media launch of the Jamaica Red Cross 70th Anniversary celebration, at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on February 16. 16 Feb
By: Help Desk 0

Voluntary Organisations Encouraged to Establish Youth Arms

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, is encouraging more voluntary organisations to establish youth arms specifically designed to promote their involvement in the process of development through volunteerism.

“This will provide a means for our young people to show their value, to reaffirm that they have an important place in society and to give them the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to our advancement,” she said.

Mrs. Robinson made the appeal during the media launch of the Jamaica Red Cross 70th Anniversary celebration at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on February 16.

The Minister commended the Jamaica Red Cross for the establishment of its youth arm, adding that “no doubt this is pursuant to ensuring that volunteerism through the Red Cross will remain a feature of the Jamaican society for generations to come”.

“I believe as a people, that the time has come when we should seriously consider the development of a culture of volunteerism by inculcating in our youth the importance of giving back to humanity. Every individual has the capacity for caring and the capacity for working in solidarity to alleviate human suffering and contribute to human dignity,” she said.

Mrs. Robinson noted that the Jamaica Red Cross has repeatedly reproduced its purpose through its commitment to Jamaica, adding that the organisation’s quick responses in times of need have resulted in the restoration of economic and social activity.

“You have manifested to Jamaica, and indeed the world, that a spirit of compassion and sacrifice is inherent in mankind and that within every human lies a jewel of hope and love. The Jamaica Red Cross Society has been a part of this great achievement to humanity. You have been and will remain a jewel in the annals of Jamaica,” she said.

Some of the activities slated for the year-long celebration include a youth rally and exposition on May 4; Mother’s Day Brunch, May 13; a gala banquet, September 27; a national Awards Ceremony for volunteers, December 5; a 5K run/walk, at a date to be announced; and a newspaper supplement on April 29.

The Jamaica Red Cross, a member of the worldwide Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, was established by an Act of Parliament in 1962 to serve as an auxiliary to the Government in times of emergencies, disasters or crises. In keeping with its legal mandate, the organisation routinely works very closely with various government agencies on an ongoing basis, and with greater intensity in times of disaster.


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In this Loop Jamaica file photo, Labour and Social Security Minister Shahine Robinson speaks at the GraceKennedy Housekeeper Award ceremony last year. 15 Feb
By: Help Desk 0

Debate begins on long-awaited Occupational Safety and Health bill

Labour and Social Security Minister Shahine Robinson on Tuesday opened the long-awaited debate on the Occupational Safety and Health bill in the House of Representatives.

When passed into law, it will have far reaching and consequential effects on how the workplace is operated, including how workers are employed, treated and terminated.

The bill, which is 10 years in the making and which spans both administrations and at least four Ministers of Labour, seeks to, among other things, expand the definition of the term ‘worker’.

Robinson, in explained the rationale behind the move, said “… some employers in an effort to avoid the obligations which emanate from the employment relationship seek to reclassify an arrangement which is substantively that of an employer and employee to that of an employer and independent contractor or an ambiguous derivative.”

Robinson said such an arrangement “effectively casts the employed person outside the scope of existing labour legislation.”

Trade unions have long been pointing to a growing trend in both the public and private sector where an ever increasing number of Jamaican workers are being employed on contract. Some workers, having been terminated from their jobs, are reemployed on contract. This effectively limits the obligation of the employer to the employee.

In the meantime, the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act will be amended to ensure it remains relevant. The Labour Minister said the amendment will give the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) the “jurisdiction to hear complaints arising from under the Occupational safety and Health bill when enacted.”

To this end, a division of the tribunal to be known as the Occupational Safety and Health division will be created.



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Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson. 15 Feb
By: Help Desk 0

Debate on Occupational Safety and Health Bill Gets Underway

Debate on the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill started in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (February 13).

The legislation addresses safety and health in the Jamaican workplace within a framework that balances the competing interests of employers and workers.

Opening the debate, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, noted that the Bill is in support of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Decent Work Agenda, which recognizes the rights of workers to do productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

“I am sure this House will agree with me that for work to qualify as ‘decent’, it must be carried out safely. Indeed, if we are to develop as a nation, we must be committed to having safe workplaces for both employers and employees,” Mrs. Robinson said.

Consistent with ILO Convention 155, the Occupational Safety and Health legislation will apply to persons in all areas of economic activity, including the public and private sectors, as well as the formal and informal economies.

“Against this background, the Bill advances an expanded definition of ‘worker,’ which is in contrast to the narrow use of the term ‘employee’ and indeed ‘worker’ as appear interchangeably in our existing labour laws,” Mrs. Robinson noted.

She pointed out that some employers, in an effort to avoid the obligations that emanate from the employment relationship, seek to reclassify an arrangement, which is substantively that of ‘employer and employee’, to that of an ‘employer and independent contractor’ or other ambiguous derivative.

“This effectively casts the employed person outside the scope of existing labour,” she argued.

As such, under the Bill, a worker is defined as a person, who carries out work in any capacity for a person conducting a business or undertaking, including work as: an employee; a contractor or subcontractor; an employee of a contractor or subcontractor; and a person whose service is procured or arranged by a company, which is in the business of supplying workers for other businesses, and who has been assigned to work in the person’s business or undertaking.

The Bill also introduces a new concept of a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU), who is the principal duty bearer in the regulatory framework.

“This allows for the imposition of duty on all persons, who by their conduct, may cause, or contribute in some way, to the risks, safety and health of any person from the conduct of the business or undertaking. Further, it focuses the duty of care on the undertaking of work and activities that contribute to the carrying out of work, and is not limited to the workplace,” Mrs. Robinson outlined.

The Bill requires a PCBU to notify the Director of Occupational Safety and Health immediately after becoming aware of the occurrence of a notifiable incident such as the death of a person, a serious injury or illness of a person, or a dangerous incident.

It also makes provision for the involvement of workers in the decision-making process in relation to their ability to carry out work safely.

The Bill also treats with the issue of discrimination in respect of occupational safety and health outcomes.

“Essentially, the provision prohibits a PCBU from engaging in discriminatory conduct as well as requesting, instructing, inducing, encouraging, authorizing or assisting with discriminatory conduct for a prohibited reason,” Mrs. Robinson said.

Prohibited reasons attributable to discriminatory conduct include the following: that the worker is or has been pregnant; or is perceived to be living with or affected by HIV or AIDS; or is afflicted with any other life threatening illness.

The Bill further establishes a Department of Occupational Safety and Health within the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

Mrs. Robinson said the Bill will be beneficial to businesses and undertakings, as a re-orientation towards safety and health, and will minimize if not eliminate the indirect costs of safety and health incidents.

These include compensation for injuries, replacement of workers, scheduling delays, loss of productivity and absenteeism on account of illness and injury.

Debate on the Bill will continue in the Lower House.


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