BVI News

Employers using COVID-19 as excuse to cut staff should be held accountable

Marlon Penn

Opposition Leader Marlon Penn said employers using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to cut staff should be held accountable.

Penn said while some employers are practising good corporate responsibility, there are others taking advantage of the situation. 

He said: “A lot of the businesses have done a good job in trying to help their employees transition during this period, and I want to commend those businesses.”

The Opposition Leader said employers in that category continue to pay staff who are working remotely or at their respective homes. 

However, he said there are others “who are using the opportunity to just get rid of persons and do the opposite”. 

“Those persons, when the time is right, they need to be dealt with. We need to keep a list and check it twice because those employers who have taken advantage of a bad situation and have put many of their employees on the street have to be held account for their actions,” Penn argued.

Hundreds lose employment

He further told the House of Assembly that hundreds have already lost their jobs after the closure of resorts territory-wide.

“All of our major resorts have practically shut their doors. One in my district, Scrub Island, has laid off close to 300 staff. I got a call today about The Moorings who have also laid off their staff for three months — without pay, I might add,” Penn stated.

He said he believes others will soon follow due to the current situation which has caused the government to close its borders.

“The reaction is they don’t have customers coming to their hotels so they cannot keep those doors open.”

In the meantime, Penn stated that these persons are now faced with the dilemma of figuring out how they would be able to feed their families for the next three months. 

“These are real concerns. These are bread and butter issues being faced by many families throughout this territory. Many single parents who live off subsistence wage who depend on not even their salaries from these resorts, but their tips. Their tips are what drives them and drive them to pay their bills, feed their children, and their families,” he added.

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61 Comments

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  1. Sockem says:

    All the expats that have lost their jobs should not be here, the island can’t take the strain of people that don’t need to be here and should go home to there own mother country if they have no income.

    Like 13
    Dislike 65
    • voiceofthevoiceless says:

      The only way that can be done is via very expensive charter service that most will not be able to afford as all other commercial airlines have suspended flights due to the borders being closed to all incoming passengers. No plane is going to come here empty and leave full or partially full.

      Like 13
      • Wait says:

        @ sockem. Thats place will never get better. You evil tail. You see What Irma did to you all. Wait man wait just wait

        Like 16
        Dislike 4
        • Wow says:

          These same expats been paying social security and taxes on their income for years! Now something like this happen and you talking about send them home?! Why social security can’t pay out all these hard working individuals now until they get back in their feet!

          Like 20
        • Facts says:

          Wait it’s a sad reality your are saying there and you have a point. God with cure the world of the evil and nasty.

        • Trumane says:

          @Wait.. why are you here?

    • NB says:

      Sockem, you must be such a miserable, hurt and lonely individual. The Devil’s child perhaps? Sorry for you you

      Like 17
      Dislike 3
      • Facts says:

        Unity people the fight down has to stop. The same country you want the ppl to return to should share your mindset and stop testing the covid 19 kit samples sent to them. you poison mind ppl need to shut up and remember your value to the region and face the fact that you reason you can come on here and talk down about ppl the came here to make a living can be taken away from you just like that the # mighty USD. Some of u need the carpet pull from under your feet so you come to terms with the reality the we all going end up in the same place one day. You local fools need to shut up. You sockem.your a prime example of a poison worm sent them where all the years of them paying equal or even more tax entitle them to get assistance and government aid.

    • Ignorance is Bliss says:

      What a fantastic observation!

      You should round them all up and send them somewhere they can go to the grocery store more than 1 time a week, freely take garbage to their dumpster, and take a walk outside without being fined $5000.

      Let that sink in.

      Like 4
      Dislike 3
    • Trini/citizen says:

      Your so snail minded they have been paying the same taxes like you remember where u were when Irma passing most of Tortola people left and it was down island people who stand by and rebuild the place for you to return too they made your island our island liveable for all but now you have a problem with them this is world wide problem not a Tortola problem so stop bitching.

      Like 21
      Dislike 2
    • MH says:

      Your name is not Sockem.i wont say your but you should be a shame of your self. The expats did not bring this here.all every day you wait for the news and make some bad comments you need to stop.

      Like 10
      • Unfair says:

        I find some of the statements being made are unfair. However the reality is that it is the some expats who brought the virus here. Have you not heard? Also expats did not build back this country for free. It cost a pretty penny because labour went sky high. Again, I disagree with the harsh comments, but reality is reality.

        Like 1
        Dislike 2
    • Trump says:

      sockem can you please get a flight for me now

      Like 2
      Dislike 1
    • Humpy says:

      Listen wicked people this is going to back fire on you all BVI landers.
      When the people who have helped us so much go home who will help you pay your mortgage. I am waiting patiently to see this its coming we cannot live without these people because we are greedy. We ran and built big apartments what we cannot afford, all because of greed send them home and the bank will go with everything.Dont worry Carma will have it’s way wicked people

      • KRSNA says:

        Life is great, not material attachment, we must first understand what is the purpose of life. The purpose of life reestablish our lost relationship with God. The are lot of people who are very self center of there action, we must come to an understanding that according to our action will give an opposition reaction. The some of us perform very disturbing action, we expected an good from it. Most of us are judging people wrongly, if you have nothing to comment positive don’t say nothing at all. Let me say this to all no man is not the provider GOD is, by his will that I have go where I from let it be done, not man. The are too much of greed for material things. Man must live happy with nature, man fighting against nature so the result of bad KARMA is here. Live and let your brother live as well.

  2. Reality Check says:

    So I pay the employees of my shut down by government business until it is so indebted that I have to permanently close the doors depriving them of severance or retirement payments all while Social Security is sitting on millions which could be used to support laid off workers??

    Like 39
    Dislike 3
    • Rubber Duck says:

      It shows how out of touch these politicians are. Where is the money coming from to pay employees with zero revenues. ?

      In other countries like the UK the govt is paying those it has forced out of work.

      In BVI the Social Security fund is not there to bail out the failing businesses of the Inner Circle but to help all workers ( and not just belongers ) in times of trouble. Employers pay into the SS fund as well as employees.

      The govt must pay workers it has forced out of employment.

      Like 35
      Dislike 1
      • Landlord says:

        The tenants are taking advantage by not paying their rents, thanks to The Premier

        Like 9
        Dislike 18
        • Hmmmm says:

          Glad you mentioned that. I heard working people bragging about receiving vouchers from government to shop and I have seen some in work uniform shopping with their vouchers. I did not receive a voucher, so I must depend on my rent collection for survival and government is telling my tenants that they can live for free. That is messed up. It seems to me like government should be paying the rent then because the bank has not informed me not to pay my mortgage. My mother always told us to save for “wet day”, and days like these is what she was referring to. Government should think things through before giving the wrong advice. Who is looking out for the landlords? When are the rent vouchers bring issued? Just an observation.

    • 10+ says:

      10+ years ago SSB – the peoples’ money – had cash & investments to the tune of $200 million. What is BVI Government doing? Why aren’t the SSB releasing the peoples’ funds to them?

      • because says:

        Simply. It’s greed.

      • Rubber Duck says:

        It’s $800 million or close now.

        • Close to 1Billion! says:

          In 2017, SS had something like $600-mil cash plus investments, (CDs, loans to government, and other investments equalling $200-mil or more) As minister of Finance over banks, insurance, statutiary bodies etc)) the premier, as much as he and others may think or believe he is doing, it is not enough; while his immigration, labour and lands minister is there asking and pleading with already wounded and struggling businesses, still reeling from Irma experience). For Hon Fahie to ask the governor to ask UK to help us out, when they have already offered to back our 400-million loan, while the governor has been encouraging the premier to take the loan, it makes him look weak. The governor’s responsibility is in other areas; not finance. This is the time to stand up and take responsibility and lead. This is an unprecedented situation; worst than hurricane Irma While the Corona virus is the real culprit, it is fair to assume that money and the economy are causing the most stress. Why can I make that call?. easy; Just lift the Curfew and folks would be out and about ready to defend their livelihood; of course being careful, wearing their masks etc. The monetary necessity is that important. While we were proactive and among the first to close our borders, St. Kitts/Nevis is among the first to address the economic side pledging to stimulate the economy with a $112-million dollar infusion of cash; the largest ever anywhere in the Caribbean. Interestingly, they have entered the Tourism market only within the past 15 years.

    • voiceofthevoiceless says:

      If you have been making profits all the time then you should not be spending all the profits but saving some for a rainy day which is now. Some will say this is a flood and I agree. Reserves should be able to help you through at least 2-3 months of a very lean spell of lacklustre revenues. Should help you take care of rent, utilities and salaries operating at a loss.

      I will not layoff staff despite the losses but after 3 months if things don’t pick up then I would have to rethink but it does not have to be layoffs as other options like deferred salary payment, reduced salary with shortened hours can be considered.

      Like 22
      • Rubber Duck says:

        You are one of the lucky ones.

        Many businesses have not fully recovered from the hurricanes yet and don’t have reserves.

      • Lilly says:

        Depending on the nature of business, Some business owners will have a business interruption plan which will kick in in times like these. This could be a little costly, but I say it’s worth every penny.

      • true says:

        then you do not own a restaurant in the outer islands thats revenue comes 99.5% from tourists

    • Haha says:

      Everybody keep talking about social security but you have to apply to receive the benefits unless you are at retirement age where the checks comes automatically every month. I don’t think unemployment due to termination is eligible for benefits. You will be entitled to your benefits if you get the corona virus Though.

      http://www.vissb.vg/benefits/

  3. TurtleDove says:

    Really you all just now finding this out?…all of these workers need to get togather and negotiate for themselves…create a union that will have power to bring the government and these unethical businesses to their knees when appropiate..

    Like 7
    Dislike 9
  4. somebody hard not soft says:

    Ronnie, fraser or myron would of been the perfect man to do this job….Fahie wants to be everybody’s friend and that ain’t gonna work

    Like 19
    Dislike 18
    • Now Fahie says:

      Now lets test fahie. When Irma hit he had the most talk and best recommendations thats why he got in. But now loook! He deferring helpless people to red cross fsn and social development …. Guess what? NDP didnt do that…. Just like they picking up Garbage they could drop of a case of water and some essential goods.

      Fahie when he was out is doing what he does best in TALK.

      Like 2
      Dislike 2
      • Lol says:

        Nobody could find or hear from NDP. That was one of their biggest failures. The only one that tried was Mark. The then Premier allegedly turned away the ship that was here to help. They were slow to fix the school situation forcing parents to send their children away.

        Like 1
        Dislike 1
  5. Anonymous says:

    The medicine that will cure and benefit will not be taken by our people, yet that medicine is the only medicine that will cure those current and future ills.

    The two prescriptions are unionization of the masses and unity of the Black masses in general.

    Sadly, unionization is war to business. Government gets paid to keep such legislation of the books by business, and people are to fractured and disorganized .

    Like 8
    Dislike 5
  6. PENN says:

    If you can’t go pay them yourselves then zip it. This is not a time for politics. You don’t have to worry with your government paycheck. And invisible income. PLEASE SHUT IT!

    Like 8
    Dislike 2
  7. Supermarket staff says:

    I do hope supermarket staff are being remunerated fairly for their extra hard work and risk taking during this time. They like others have families to feed and bills to pay.

    Like 13
  8. voiceofthevoiceless says:

    Truth be told Hon. Penn just playing politics as nothing will be done to stop the mass layoffs.

    Here are some suggestion that he or anyone can bring to the house:

    Provide financial assistance in the form of low interest loans and grants to small businesses who can prove that their revenues have been severely affected by the lockdown.

    Amend SSB provisions to include financial assistance for the unemployed in the form of 2/3 salary payment for the next 3 months.

    For those businesses that chose to keep their workers SSB should fund directly 1/2 to 2/3 salary payments for at least 3 months. This is an incentive to keep people employed.

    Duty free concessions on basic commodities eg. sugar, water, flour, paper towel and ensure that the savings are passed on.

    Freeze on hiring and work permits. We have to take care of those persons on island first. For the unemployed work permit holders give them 3 months to find work or they will have to prove they can sustain themselves further or leave and return once things pick back up.

    Like 7
    Dislike 3
  9. Two Words says:

    Social. Security.

    Local and Foreign Businesses ARE ALREADY PAYING for this kind of situation, so point your fingers elsewhere.

    It is the Government’s job to determine where SS funds are allocated. They are ultimately responsible, so quit pretending it’s something businesses should foot the bill for.

    10’s of thousands of professionals have knowingly paid into a system which they will never receive from. The Government knows this, and yet it’s not enough.

    The question is, why? Considering how few people can or will draw from SS compared to how many have put in, shouldn’t there be a fat SS bank account by now?

    Like 7
    Dislike 2
    • Concerned says:

      You are misinformed here, people who pay into Social Security and leave before their entitled payout will get their contributions to Pensions back. When I was still an employer Social Security contacted me to get contact information for a former employee who did not pay in the required amount for pension benefits and had left the island to refund his contributions to him.

      • Deh Watcha says:

        Thanks for clearing that up.

        Persons always talking what they do not know.

        Only thing stopping a person from collecting their retirement benefits is death before the states age. They mail checks even overseas.

  10. BVIlander says:

    How are we going to eat after this two weeks….y’all need to make social security give Us a pay. Trouble ain’t start yet…..father guide us all

  11. idk says:

    How are businesses suppose to pay staff when the island is shut down and zero revenue is being earned? Maths 101

    Like 15
  12. Quiet Warrior says:

    The Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) is a game changer. Residents have not experienced anything like this in their lifetimes; it is unprecedented. September 2017 with monster, category hurricanes Irma and Maria was no comparison to Covid-19 that has no treatment, cure nor vaccine. Residents are stricken with uncertainty, fear, shock, panic……..etc.

    Moreover, Covid-19 has impacted tourism and tourism related businesses, resulting in lay-offs. Customers are the blood that carries the oxygen to fuel tourism. No customers, no need for as many employees. Further, the VI is a right to work locale, ie, employees can quit when they want and employees can lay off workers when they want. However, employees may be entitled to severance. Typically, during a major lay-off, companies often don’t re-employed the same number of employees for a variety of reasons, ie, productivity increased…..etc.

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  13. true says:

    so should everyone breaking curfew walking their dog taking selfies when everyone is on lockdown

    Like 12
  14. Dede says:

    For those who think SSB should pay for lay-off, pleas read the act again. This is not possible.! The act provides such payment if you’re unable to work because of a disability or injuries suffer on the job otherwise known as Workman Compensation. If someone, finds themselves in a situation such as the one most are currently facing then an unemployment benefit would cover this.
    This brings us to a very serious issue that all of us need to discuss and implement to avoid these situation when they happens. It call Unemployment Insurance. I know many will balk at this but it has now become a need. However, it is done, everyone must be satisfied, this included employers and employees.
    On another note, stop looking at what is being done in other countries, that money not free. Eventually we will hear about it. Sometime later it will surface in the form of budget cuts and the two areas most likely to be affected will be Education and Health.

    Like 3
    Dislike 2
    • Concerned says:

      My worry about unemployment benefits is, all of us will have to pay in for it, employees and employers and in so many countries some people are going to rob the system. A situation like covid-19 is not the norm but people taking advantage of unemployment because of laziness is the norm.

      Like 2
      Dislike 1
    • voiceofthevoiceless says:

      Laws are made to be changed. The BVI Government of the day has a 9-4 majority. They can change laws but do the have the political and moral will to change the law?

  15. Hmmmm says:

    Matter of Fact Social security should be open to receieve claims…. people are stressed, sick extra.

    People will get so desperate they will harm themselves just to collect ss.

  16. F. Turnbull says:

    I am not here to make no bad comments. But I think the government need to take full responsibility that all company pay their staff during this 3 weeks lock down,they are not working. And every employer that lay off their staff in this time, need to hold accountable for their actions. Before we get to personal with the expat, we should remember what they did for us during that time of needs. And the landlord the comment, you should be ashemed of yourself. Where is your heart? Are you one of them in the brotherhood?

    Like 1
    Dislike 3
  17. No excuse says:

    Some time ago on one of the community chats an issue was raised that the SSB should give unemployment for those persons who suddenly find themselves without a job. The suggestion was that it would only be for a set period of time because we do not want to encourage laziness among our people and only a portion of the salary that was earned. Persons would also had have to making a set amount of contributions before thy qualify for unemployment benefit to discourage those who might look to abuse the system for example by getting work for two months and quitting just to receive the SSB cheque. Hon. Maduro-Caines contributed to the discussion saying that she believes the SSB board has more enough funds fir such a scheme. It is my opinion that if government can used our SS money to fund their projects (The $7million plane disaster) then they can surely use a little bit on us in this circumstance. There is no excuse, amend the law or sign a bill to allow for this. Cabinet is supposed to be meeting dailyto deal with this current crisis. Elected officials get cracking! No excuses.

  18. Damn if u do damn if u don't says:

    Hey how about suspending the income tax for 3 months

    • More problems says:

      If you do that how does the government pay their workers. at the end of the day the more people that lose their jobs the more trouble we face. I agree that SS funds are an option for a limited time. Its the only option that we have available.
      Totally disagree with Penn – if companies have no business and need to survive this period it is their only option. Yes, there are larger, more profitable businesses that can likely keep staff on for a bit longer but for places like the moorings, scrub, rosemont they have zero income and a huge overhead in wages. I think the government and SSB who have collected taxes and benefits need to help. Many persons contribute SSB all their working lives and never claim – now is the time to help. It also helps out those that have from those who have avoided taxes all this time.

  19. Strupes says:

    Hello government? When you all going to mandate to social security board to start paying out. Terminated/laid off staff records are usually filed with inland revenue who I assume communicate with social security (assume being the operative term) so SSB cannot say that people will start to make false claims and they won’t know who is who. Start paying out and stop expecting employers to pay out when no monies coming in. Where they getting the money from. That money you all now decide to pump into agriculture, why wasn’t that given as assistance to businesses that will obviously be affected. Any nee agriculture could go on right now? Always reactive and not proactive. Strupes.

  20. Windy says:

    Of course government workers are on paid leave. Monies that the rest of the people have paid with taxes but there’s not unemployment benefits for them.

  21. JAB says:

    I totally agree that the BVI social security scheme could do with some revision.

  22. CCT says:

    A certain telecom company need to be dealt with. More so now than ever persons are utilizing their internet and cellular service. They have no reason to be laying off staff talking about loss of income, they need to be sued!!!!

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