By suspending Section 28(c) of the Employment Act in the Emergency Order, which will remain in place for several more months, the Minnis Administration is denying the rights of workers who are unable to claim the redundancy payments they deserve.
According to Emergency Orders Regulations, “Where an employee has been laid off as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the period of the state of public emergency and 30 days thereafter shall not be taken into account in the calculation of any period used to presume redundancy.”
This means redundant workers, many of whom have been in limbo since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, will walk away with thousands of dollars less than they are entitled to.
The past year and half they remained tethered to their employers will not be calculated in any redundancy pay they receive at a time when they need money the most.
It leaves workers questioning whose interest Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and Minister of Labor Dion Foulkes are looking out for: Bahamian workers or their rich employers?
“Furloughed workers in excess of twelve weeks who desire redundancy should be made redundant with full compensation under the law. Further, time of service should continue during furloughs as there are financial impacts associated with this,” according to Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell.
“The Prime Minister and his Minister of Labour were wrong and unfair to eschew the views of labour leaders during this pandemic. Their policy decisions disproportionately benefitted and advantaged the employer when both sides, employer and employees, are important partners in this exercise,” he said.
It comes as Atlantis Paradise Island axes 700 workers due to low occupancy levels during the pandemic. Employees were notified by their supervisor and Human Resources department of their redundancy on Tuesday.