The Minister of Labour should look into private businesses which take advantage of their employees

Dear Editor,

I would like the new Minister of Labour to look into the modus operandi of those privately owned businesses where gross advantage is taken of employees. Among the concerns are under-payment, poor working conditions, and non-adherence to the NIS rules and regulations. There are some security guards, mostly females, who are being paid $100 per hour for an eight or twelve hour shift, which runs from Sunday to Sunday with no off day.

In addition they are paid $1000 per week as an incentive. However if they are absent for a day or part of a day they will not be paid that $1000. Ninety dollars per day is also being paid to them as a meal allowance.

Where in this day and age can some purchase a meal for $90? When one travels along the East Bank, East Coast and on Mandela Avenue there are signs which read, “Dog Food $100.” I know of an establishment that pays its employees $90 as a meal allowance for one day but operates a canteen which sells food at a price of $500 per serving.

Secondly, some employers do not issue pay slips to temporary staff so it is impossible for the employee to know what deductions have been made from his/her salary.

Some employers do treat their employees well by paying them a reasonable wage, granting them concessions and giving them an acceptable monetary incentive which serves as an inducement for them to work hard and honestly. Some of these employers even give their employees a bonus at the end of the year, even though in some cases the quantum of the bonus leaves much to be desired.

Furthermore there are some employers who grant their employees annual leave, but no matter how long that employee has worked with that employer only two weeks is given. As a good gesture, however, the employee proceeding on the leave is paid two weeks’ salary as a vacation allowance which is subject to PAYE deductions.

There seems to be a problem with adherence to NIS requirements on the part of some employers. As far as I am aware a medical certificate is required if an employee is off the job for three or more consecutive days due to illness.

The certificate is submitted to the employer who processes the document and sends it to the NIS. Failure by the employee to submit such document will result in the employee been regarded as absent without leave. Under normal circumstances an employee can report sick for two consecutive days without having to submit a medical certificate and the employer will pay that employee for those two days providing the employee is on the permanent staff.

With some private sector employers, however, this does not happen. Permanent or not, once you are absent from duty for even one day and whether you report sick or submit a medical certificate you are not paid.

One private sector employer was heard as saying the foregoing regulations applied to public servants and government employees only.

Finally private sector employees like pensioners have no trade union to represent their causes, even though they contribute in a significant way to the economy of this country.

I believe, therefore,  that the new Minister of Labour who was a strong and vibrant trade unionist should through his ministry investigate the operations of the private sector.

Yours faithfully,
Colin Gill

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