BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 01, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – In an effort to protect the interests of employees and further safeguard the stronger and safer future for all, the Team Unity administration has committed to revisiting the Protection of Employment Act to address several matters, particularly as they relate to the Severance Payments Fund.
The Protection of Employment Act was originally passed in 1986. It was revised in 2002 and is now known as the Protection of Employment Act Chapter 18.27. The Act “makes certain provisions in respect of termination of employment; the establishment of a Severance Payments Fund; payment of severance payments to employees; and for other related or incidental matters.”
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, while speaking at his monthly press conference today (Thursday, October 01), indicated that the review of the Act will look at matters pertaining to “the sustainability of the Fund, eliminating abuses, rationalization of payouts and recalibration of the Fund in the context of emergencies and pandemics.”
In this regard, Prime Minister Harris said they are currently awaiting the input from the other participants on the National Tripartite Committee – specifically the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the workers’ representatives.
Dr. Harris said his Team Unity administration inherited a Severance Payments Fund which had been in the red, resulting in hundreds of former employees dissatisfied with lengthy delays in receiving payments.
“We have been addressing these issues in a careful manner so as not to further hemorrhage the Severance Fund. Additionally, to correct errors and neglect of the former administration my government has procured the services of an actuary to make determinations on how the financial viability of the Fund can be sustained to protect employees in the future. We await that study and subsequent discussion by the tripartite committee,” Prime Minister Harris added.
Earlier this year, the Government injected EC $11.1 million to cover the cost of COVID-19 related redundancies and long service payments.
As at 22 September 2020, the Department of Labour had received a total of 1,800 claims. To date, 425 of those claims have been processed at a value of $7.3 million.