JIS News

Employers applying for work permits, must first advertise job openings in the newspapers, and submit a copy of the advertisement along with the application to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
This decision, which took effect on (Oct. 4) was announced by Labour Minister, Pearnel Charles, at a meeting with executive members of the Incorporated Master Builders Association of Jamaica (IMAJ) at the Ministry’s North Street offices on Wednesday (Oct. 3).
Mr. Charles said the intention is to protect Jamaican jobs, stamp out bureaucracy and return order to the granting process. He informed that of the 25,000 work permits issued over the last four and a half years, there is no clear account that proper procedures were followed.
“We don’t know how many people were understudying as required by law; we don’t know if those work permits, the applications were advertised before they were sent here, so we are going to, as of tomorrow, take a new approach to work permits. All work permits must be advertised before they come to the Ministry of Labour and a copy of the advertisement must accompany your application,” he stated.
According to the Labour Minister, permits for overseas workers will only be granted “when we are satisfied that the worker is not in Jamaica. and you must advise the Ministry as to who you have taken on to understudy that person.” He added that a decision has been made to appoint an official from the HEART Trust/NTA to verify whether the skills sought for the work permit is available in Jamaica. “So as not to hold you up when you apply, the HEART Trust will be at the table to say, ‘we can assure you that there is no such person trained in Jamaica to fill that slot,’ so go-ahead,” he outlined.
Noting that some permit holders are yet to show up on the job, Mr. Charles pointed out that, “no work permit will be used to deny any Jamaican a job at no level whatsoever”.
As for employers, who have brought in overseas workers before applying for a work permit, he warned “get in touch with the Permanent Secretary and “advise him before we advise you, because if we have to advise you, we may have to do so at the airport.”
At the same time, the Minister pledged that the days of long wait for work permits are now over. “We pledge here that within a few hours after you apply for a work permit, you should have it. We’re not going to have you six, seven, eight, ten weeks waiting for a work permit. If nobody is here (in Jamaica) to fill that gap, you must get it immediately to proceed with your job,” he promised.
In the meantime, the Minister and the executive of the IMAJ have agreed to more cooperation and partnership, starting with the certification of workers in the construction sector. Mr. Charles announced that HEART/NTA has come on board to assist with training and certifying workers in the industry, to ensure that they are ready for jobs locally and overseas.
IMAJ President, Michael Archer, said that the membership is “at one with” the Minister, and asked that the Ministry facilitate contractors to bring in skilled labour where needed.

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