Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes.
By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A Cabinet minister yesterday confirmed that the government has extended the 12-week mandatory redundancy payout deadline to 30 days past the end of the emergency protocols.
Dion Foulkes, minister for labour, said the move was designed to prevent persons from being fully terminated amid the COVID-19 shutdown: “That was done on Friday. It was an order under the emergency power orders that was signed by the prime minister that extended it 30 days beyond the end of the emergency powers. So the effect of that now, as of today, is up until the end of July,” he said.
“The problem with that is that the way the Act now is constructed there is a 12 week lay-off period that is allowed. After that you have to terminate, you have to make people permanently unemployed. That is something that the prime minister and the cabinet decided was not good, so we consulted the umbrella groups, we consulted the Chamber (Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation) and some of the major industries in The Bahamas to decide exactly how to handle that situation.
“We decided the best way to go is to do it by order under the emergency powers order, and it has been extended unto the end of the emergency protocol and 30 days after that.”
Peter Goudie, co-chair of the National Tripartite Committee, told Tribune Business yesterday: “Well, that’s what we had asked for, especially the National Tripartite Council. We have asked for the extension along with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, and along with Bahamas Hotel Employers Association. So I am really, really pleased that that has been approved by Cabinet today, because I don’t know what we would have done because you would have had all of these people made redundant and no jobs. Nobody wanted that.”
Mr Goudie added: “Also watching the Ministry of Tourism’s press conference yesterday brings me optimism that we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I do know that we were all hoping for this, and Dionisio D’Aguilar was extremely honest yesterday and said there are inherent risks in opening the economy but we have to.
“So we are going to do all that we can in order to safeguard, and I am really pleased with all of the work they put into it. I knew it was going on but I am delighted about how much work. So I am optimistic that we are going to get people back to work very shortly. So the whole thing is good news.
“We have people protected and people aren’t going to lose their jobs, and also that jobs are going to start opening this month. You are talking to a happy camper. This news, coupled with the additional $48m for unemployment benefits announced in the budget communication along with what was said about tourism reopening this month, I am a very happy camper.”