Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 21, 2016 (SKNIS): The Department of Labour continues its efforts to safeguard the health and safety of the workforce by conducting two types of inspections, namely, labour and social inspections that seek to ensure that employees and employers abide by the labour laws of St. Kitts and Nevis.

During Wednesday’s (October 19) edition of Working for You, Shernel James, Acting Labour Commissioner, explained the two types of inspections and noted that it is very important for the Department to carry them out on a regular basis.

“The labour inspection generally is an Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) inspection. We go into the workplace to ensure that there are no violations in terms of safety and health,” said the acting labour commissioner. “The social inspection deals with the social aspect of the worker, his terms and conditions of work, his remuneration and all those that are necessary in terms of benefits that are due to the worker. So we carry out social inspection, we look at the books and we ensure that the employer does not violate any provision of any of the Labour Act.”

Acting Labour Commissioner James said that during the inspection phase the department pays close attention to whether the employer pays the employee above minimum wage level or at the minimum wage level. This, she said, is done to ensure that all activities in relation to the employee’s benefits are carried out. Ms. James noted that the Department of Labour works closely with the Social Security Department where inspections are carried out to make certain that the worker’s rights are not infringed.

Ms. James said that although the inspections are vital, the Department of Labour has encountered issues.

“With regards to some social inspections that were carried out, we realized that an employer was paying worker below the minimum wage, which we advised them immediately to cease and to pay in occurrence with the Act and to pay all outstanding wages that were denied to that worker based on being paid below the minimum wage,” said Ms. James.

The acting labour commissioner said that with regards to OSH inspections, the Department of labour ensures that a number of characteristics exist in a workplace such as proper ventilation, the proper illumination of exits, and that the bathroom facilities are present and in proper working conditions.