Lower House opens debate on Occupational Safety and Health Bill

Shahine Robinson
The House of Representatives on Tuesday commenced debate on the Occupational Safety and Health Bill.
It was tabled 10 months ago.
Labour and Social Security Minister Shahine Robinson, who opened the debate, outlined that a critical component of the proposed legislation is that it "advances an expanded definition of worker, which is in contrast to the narrow use of the term employee."
"The rational for this approach, Mr. Speaker, is that some employers, in an effort to avoid the obligations which emanate from the employment relationship, seek to reclassify an arrangement which is substansively that of an employer and employee to that of an employer and independent contractor or an ambiguous derivative. This effectively casts the employed person outside the scope of existing labour legislations," she explained. 
Some of the other features of the legislation include the imposition of duties of care to ensure safety and health at all levels of the labour supply chain and an expansive concept of a workplace to include a location where domestic work is carried out as an economic activity.
Meanwhile, there will be legislative changes to allow for the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) to hear complaints of breaches of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act will be amended to create a division of the tribunal known as the Occupational Safety and Health Division, which will deal with such matters. 

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