Just Under 800 Severance Payment Claims Filed To Date, Says Senator Phipps

Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 13, 2020 (SKNIS): During the Sitting of Parliament on August 13, 2020, Minister of the Labour, Senator the Honourable Wendy Phipps, updated the general public on the status of severance payment and long service gratuity claims, noting that just under 800 severance payment claims were received to date.

“Three hundred and nine (309) of them are for Marriott employees; we have 112 that should be coming from the Park Hyatt and, of course, just under 90 from the Royal St. Kitts Hotel. Over the course of the last week or so we are expecting claims to be filled from 400 workers from the Four Seasons Resort,” said Minister Phipps.

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 spells 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.

Concerning long service gratuity, Senator Phipps noted that some 21 claims have been made to date.

“For public information, I should indicate that the long service gratuity would have started… by the previous administration to be exacted out of the same severance payment fund without due capitalization and the eligible beneficiaries would have been and still are manufacturing workers and workers in the hotel and allied services sectors,” said Senator Phipps.

In July 2013, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis amended the Protection of Employment Act to include the legislated Long Service Gratuity wherein persons who would have contributed ten (10) years or more of continuous service to the same workplace can opt to retire or resign and receive a Gratuity.

Minister Phipps added that “by law, an individual cannot apply for long service gratuity and still severance pay” because both benefits come from the same fund.”

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