JIS News

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, says changes will have to be made to the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act (LRIDA), resulting from the introduction of the Protected Disclosures (Whistleblower) Act.

In his contribution to the debate on the Protected Disclosures Bill in the House of Representatives on Wednesday January 19, Mr. Charles said it would create the need for a link with the LRIDA, by inserting into Section 2 a clause defining ‘protected disclosures’.

"This amendment is a fundamental step in creating an enabling environment, for the effective operation of a new regime in anti corruption," Mr. Charles said.

The Labour Minister also noted that the legal concept of unjustifiable dismissal is only found in the LRIDA, and only the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) could provide remedies for unjustifiable dismissal of an aggrieved worker.

"It is therefore imperative that there be a consequential amendment to the LRIDA, as proposed in Clause 29 of this Bill. This will synchronise the current law with the Protected Disclosures law, when it comes into effect, by inserting the definition of occupational detriment into the operations of the LRIDA," Mr. Charles explained.

The Labour Minister stated that the need for a Protected Disclosure Act could not be ignored. He said corruption was rife, and Jamaica was no exception.

"Jamaica is not unique in legislating the manner in which workers should go about exposing corruption. Many other countries have done so," Mr. Charles said.

The Protected Disclosure Bill seeks to encourageand facilitate specified disclosures of improper conduct in the public interest, and to protect employees who make specified disclosures.

According to the Memorandum of Objects and Reasons, the Bill contemplates as a disclosure, any revelation by an employee of information regarding any conduct of the employer or of a fellow employee, which that employee reasonably believes constitutes ‘improper conduct’.

Debate on the Bill will continue at the next sitting of the Lower House on Tuesday at Gordon House.