JIS News

The introduction of a flexi-hour working week is still a priority of government, and Labour and Social Security Minister, Derrick Kellier, has pledged to give the matter his “full attention” this legislative year.
Minister Kellier, who was addressing a Jamaica Employer’s Federation forum held at the group’s headquarters in Kingston yesterday (April 26), said that “the Joint Select Committee of Parliament, which is considering the matter, will work for its completion in the short run”.
He noted that, “there is no plan for a new legislation for the introduction of flexible work hour arrangements instead, the intention is to amend a number of existing laws and informal arrangements, which are in existence.”
“The proposals for flexible work arrangements form part of the reform of the labour market to increase efficiency, competitiveness and productivity,” the Minister told the forum, adding that the Ministry was pursuing a comprehensive labour market reform programme aimed specifically at bringing legislation and practices in line with the demands for a modern labour market in light of realities such as the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and other global developments.
The Labour Minister acknowledged that the year promised to be “a challenging one under the industrial relations thrust”, but stated that the Ministry remained committed to its vision of contributing to national development through the provision of efficient and effective labour and social security services, as well as promoting a viable market economy and economic opportunities with the overall objective of increasing the standard of living for the Jamaican population.
On another matter, Mr. Kellier informed that as at March 2006, some 504 Skills Certificates were granted by the Ministry under the free movement of skilled persons provision of the CSME, while some 161 appeals were granted in 2005.
He said the main movement at this time is between Jamaica and Trinidad with the age group 31 to 40 years accounting for the largest group of applicants. He further lauded the work of the JEF and its association with bodies such as the International Labour Organization, the Labour Advisory Committee, and the Minimum Wage Commission and pledged to maintain and build on what he said was an “environment of partnership and consultation”.
In her comments, President of the JEA, Audrey Hinchcliffe said she was relieved that there would be no new legislation regarding flexi-work hours and urged for the processes to be accelerated. The government, during the 2005/06 Sectoral Debates, announced its intention to push for the implementation of flexible work hours by amending the laws, which govern the opening and closing of businesses.
Flexible work arrangements have been on the table for discussion since July 2000, with the appointment of a 12-member committee mandated to address the issues involved. The membership was drawn from parliamentarians, trade union and employers’ organizations. A consensus is yet to be reached on the matter.

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