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People breaching new retirement law

Minister of Health and Chairman of the parliament's Standing Orders Committee Ronnie Skelton

Minister of Health and Chairman of the parliament’s Standing Orders Committee Ronnie Skelton

Minister of Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton said he has received formal complaints that some workers are being forced to proceed into retirement, because their employers or supervisors are still using the outdated retirement age of 60 years.

Skelton hit out against the practice, saying persons should note that the retirement age recently increased by five years.

“I am dealing with a couple of cases right now concerning the retirement age which we have removed from 60 to 65. And especially in the civil service, people are still basically asking people to retire and send them letters. I don’t know where they are getting this instruction from, but it’s happening and we have to address the situation,” Skelton said last evening during the government’s NDP Radio show.

He made that declaration while he responded to a female resident who telephoned him and complained that persons are being sent on retirement illegally.

“People are still getting letters saying they have to send in retirement letter. You are getting letters saying you have to go home by certain time, and then they tell you you have to send in retirement letters. If the [new retirement] age is 65, why are you getting letter to go home,” the resident asked.

The new Retirement Age Act 2016 came into force four days ago (April 1) following the necessary declaration in the Gazette by Minister of Natural Resources and Labour Dr Kedrick Pickering.

Under the new law, while employers in both the public and private sectors can still send home workers, the worker’s age being below 65 cannot be a valid reason.

Also, prior to the new law coming into force, the government introduced certain transitional provisions, which essentially give some employees an option to determine if they want to properly retire at the outdated 60 years, or at the new retirement age (65).

According to transitional provisions that have been published in the Virgin Islands Gazette, the new law should not be used to prevent an employee from retiring if such person becomes 60 years of age at the commencement of the new law.

It should also not apply to any person who wants to retire if that person will reach 60 years within a period of one year of the commencement of the new law.

Another provision is that an employee, who within six months after the commencement of the new law is due to retire, may request to continue employment.

The new law also nullifies any term of prior employment contracts or collective agreements that provide for a retirement age that is less than 65 years.

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