Government arranging meeting with employers and employees to discuss recent labour-related developments

Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 03, 2020 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is working to facilitate meetings between representatives of employers and employees to discuss recent developments in the labour market due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hospitality sector, which for the most part has essentially been closed down since March 2020, has had its operations severely impacted by the coronavirus. Over the past weeks, several persons have been made redundant or were officially terminated from their jobs after being laid off for more than twelve weeks. Employees are also afforded the right to trigger their termination after the twelve-week period. Sections 28 and 29 of The Protection of Employment Act Cap 18.27 spell out the legal stipulations in this regard. Sections 26 to 30 outline details regarding severance payment which, a person may qualify for after working for the same company for at least one year.

Minister of Labour, the Honourable Wendy Phipps, said that there had been recent discussions with the management teams of various establishments about these issues. These include officials from Park Hyatt St. Kitts, the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, and the Royal St. Kitts Hotel.

“Up to 48 hours ago, we (the government) would have made overtures to the management teams of those institutions to facilitate a discussion with the employee base, whether they are done in sections or as a group, so that we can get on the same page,” Minister Phipps stated at the Prime Minister’s Monthly Press Conference held on July 03, 2020 at the NEMA Conference Room.

Another key area for discussion would be the payment of severance and long service gratuity.

“These are some of the very germane considerations that we would wish that people understand and that is the reason why we are offering ourselves up to meet with the workers and the management, to explain the ramifications of some of these choices,” Minister Phipps said.

“When somebody severs their employment, either by his or her choice or it is done by management based on the provisions of the Protection of Employment Act, if things turn around there is no going back from that,” she noted, adding that a person “cannot then come back to ask for the same job” after claiming redundancy to trigger severance.

The Minister of Labour indicated that when the borders reopen and hotel operations pick up, the government prefers that we keep “the present stock that we have right now who are trained, to be able to fill these jobs.”

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