Some seven persons have been sentenced to prison as the Ministry of Labour and Social Security continues to clamp down on employment agencies in breach of the terms and conditions of the Employment Agency Regulation Act.
Director of the Manpower Services Division in the Ministry, Barrington Bailey, told JIS News that more agencies were under investigation. “There are four others being investigated and actually, I have been told that at least one of the four has so far been arrested,” he said.
The Director explained that the agencies were brought before the courts for several reasons including overcharging persons, collecting money and having no approval for jobs, as well as operating without a licence.
During the latter half of 2005, the Ministry embarked on a sensitisation programme to encourage employment agencies to adhere to its rules and regulations. Mr. Bailey said that under that initiative, “we have done news releases, we have been on talk show programmes outlining what the requirements are and we have officers, who visit employment agencies randomly to advise them of the requirements of the law and give them the required application forms so that they can register.”
In respect to job seekers who use the services of these agencies, Mr. Bailey noted that such persons should be on the look out for illegal operators and report them to the Ministry.
“All legal operators are issued with a licence from the Ministry and it comes in a certificate form and should be prominently displayed in the organization. Once you enter in such an organization you should see it and once you don’t see it, you should ask for it,” Mr. Bailey advised.
Currently, there are two types of employment agencies – those authorized to place persons in jobs overseas and those that carry out local job placements. There are 16 agencies authorized to place persons in jobs overseas and 32 authorized to do local job placements.
For persons wishing to establish employment agencies, Mr. Bailey is advising them to ensure they follow legal procedures. “Persons who wish to operate employment agencies must ensure they have the proper approval from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and they can contact the 1F North Street Office to get the relevant documents. For the job seekers, do not pay money to anyone whether they are employees of the Ministry or members of the public,” Mr. Bailey urged. The Director further informed that the Ministry did not charge a placement fee for jobs and persons approved for the Overseas Work Programme were asked to pay for their visas at designated venues. “No money is received or accepted by the Ministry for any of its programmes, so job seekers should be aware that they should not pay money to anyone, who approaches saying they are from the Ministry and they want money. If this happens, they should call the police. Do not pay any money,” Mr. Bailey stressed.