The Government is encouraging employers to make use of the Flexible Work Arrangements Act 2014 after the work-from-home Order is lifted on June 1.
The Order was enacted in March as part of measures to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Jamaica.
During a digital press conference at Jamaica House on Tuesday (May 26), Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, called on employers to look into offering flexible work hours.
He said the expiration of the Order does not mean the Government is mandating everyone to physically return to work… given that the virus is still with us.
“Work that does not need physical presence at the workplace, we are encouraging our employers to dialogue with their employees and negotiate with their employees. Use the facilities that are available under the Flexible Work Arrangements legislation to put in place the framework, the measures, the systems, the solutions that will ensure that persons who have children at home, by virtue of school being out, persons who are ill, if they can be facilitated with these measures, let us use them,” the Prime Minister said.
“We have had this law for the last six years. It hasn’t been fully utilised. Let us utilise it now,” he added.
Mr. Holness said that persons other than the vulnerable population – persons aged 65 and over, and persons with comorbidities – will be allowed to return to work June 1, and stressed the need for employers to have dialogue with their staff.
“We are not saying that everyone should return to work regardless of their circumstances. We acknowledge that there are persons who would have responsibilities by virtue of schools being closed and having children at home to attend to. We acknowledge and we have said that there are persons with comorbidities who should be very careful how they return to work, and, therefore, we expect that the employers would exercise a high level of understanding in this period. We also have the obligation, the duty to return our economy to its full productive capacity as quickly as possible,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Holness indicated that the Government is working with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) for the return of workers.
“The PSOJ has been working with the health authorities and we are well advanced with developing the Infection Prevention and Safety Protocols that will be needed for the workplace,” he said.