JIS News

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is urging employees whose rights are being violated by their employers, to call the Pay and Conditions of Employment Unit at 922-2468 or 922-9500-14 and file their complaints.
This is the word from Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Faith Innerarity, who was speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on June 12, at the Agency’s head office in Kingston.
“The Ministry is open to all our workers and we encourage workers, wherever there are difficulties that relate to pay and conditions of employment.or any issues that impact on one’s health, safety and rights at the workplace, to bring it to the attention of the Ministry,” she implored.
Mrs. Innerarity said that although the Ministry has taken a pro-active approach to ensuring that the rights of workers are respected, by doing routine inspections, employees should not be afraid to approach the Ministry if they felt that their rights were being abused.
Speaking against the background of a recent case study, undertaken by a graduate student of the University of the West Indies, which revealed that some employers of wholesale establishments were breaching employment regulations, she said that employees should come forward to discuss issues pertaining to their employment.
The Chief Technical Director said that once workers have formally filed a complaint, which involves filling out the appropriate forms, the relevant officers and inspectors would be available to address the issues. She further stressed that the names and identity of any person who submitted a complaint would be kept confidential.
Highlighting some of the rights of workers, Mrs. Innerarity said that these included proper payment at or above the minimum wage of $3,200.00 per week; payment of National Insurance contributions by employers, the right to lunch breaks and entitlement to vacation and maternity leave with pay (after a stipulated period, normally a year).
In addition, she noted that employees should pay attention to the conditions under which they are employed, to include the availability of sanitary facilities, proper lighting and seating facilities.
Meanwhile, she said that the Ministry has drafted the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which should come into effect this financial year. Once this Act is enforced, she said that the Ministry would be able to broaden its scope and inspection capabilities.
“I must point out that we currently have some limitations in terms of the legislative framework.there’s a Factories Act that has been in place since the 1940s, [which covers] only a limited number of workplaces,” she noted.
“We have drafted an Occupational Health and Safety Act, and when [this] Act becomes law, we will have wider powers [for] other workplaces to include the wholesale establishments Downtown…and we hope that before the end of this legislative year, we will have this Legislation in place,” Mrs. Innerarity said.
She pointed out that the Act would fully incorporate various pieces of legislation, which referred to compensation, health and safety at the workplace, and conditions of employment.