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Choose lay-offs as last resort, Labour Ministry urges employers

Gillian Corrodus
 
The Ministry of Labour is encouraging employers to choose lay-offs as a last resort due to the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.
 
On Tuesday, the Jamaica Employers' Federation said several of its members have chosen to lay off employees rather than cut jobs.
 
Some of the lay-offs will be up to 120 days.
 
Gillian Corrodus, Divisional Director of Industrial Relations and Allied Services in the Labour Ministry, said while the law allows for lay-offs, employers should rethink this position in the national interest. 
 
"As an economy, as a nation, we have to keep going; and we have to keep producing, we have to keep offering services but in a very innovative and creative way," she insisted.
 
"The future of work is here with us. We have to learn in whatever sectors we are operating to see how we can work remotely. If it is that you can't work remotely, you can probably consider flexible hours, where you reduce the numbers that are in your establishment at any one time," she said.
 
She also suggested that employers consider rotating staff or having employees work every other week, or certain days in office and other days out of office. 
 
Ms Corrodus said if lay-offs are chosen, the employer must clearly state the arrangement for the period of disruption.
 
She added that the law allows for lay-off without pay.
 
Thousands of workers have already been laid off in the tourism sector.
 
Ms Corrodus said the Ministry of Labour's hotline has been flooded with questions about the laws which will protect employers and employees during the current health crisis.
 
She said among the questions from employees is the type of leave granted if  they contract the coronavirus. 
 
To this, she said Jamaica's legislation requires that it be considered sick leave if a person is indeed ill because of the coronavirus. 
 
However, she noted that if it is that the period in which the person is sick is in excess of what the Holidays with Pay Act would have provided, the sick employee is still encouraged to stay home.
 
Similarly, employers are encouraged, through their social responsibility, to give the adequate time for the employee to recover, and where possible, provide some of level of financial coverage for this period. 
 
Ms Corrodus was speaking Wednesday on TVJ's Smile Jamaica programme.


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