BVI News

Gov’t extending layoff period

Employers having the option to temporarily lay off employees for a period of three months. After that period, an employer either has to return the employee to work or terminate the employee and give a severance package — Labour Minister, Vincent Wheatley.

Minister responsible for Labour & Immigration Vincent Wheatley has said that government is working to extend the maximum allotted layoff period in the British Virgin Islands.

Minister Wheatley said the move is one of many precautionary measures taken by government to protect businesses and employees during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

 “Section 107 of the Labour Code 2010 speaks to employers having the option to temporarily lay off employees for a period of three months, after that period an employer either has to return the employee to work or terminate the employee and give a severance package,” Minister Wheatley stated.

“However, the Department of Labour and Workforce Development is working on an extension of this period for particular industries affected by COVID19 on a case-by-case basis to secure jobs for the people of the Virgin Islands,” the minister added.

He encouraged employers to develop the necessary appropriate arrangements during this period to ensure the survival of their business in the aftermath of the virus.

Other measures

Minister Wheatley also said that his department is working on special provisions to help protect elderly employees, as they are the persons most at risk of COVID-19.

As it relates to the Immigration Department, Wheatley said they are working on extending work permits, which will also be done on a case-by-case basis.

He further said the Immigration Department will also be granting access into the territory for specialised services critical to COVID-19. He said this measure is another one that would be done be done case by case.

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  1. Rough says:

    So when employers lay off their staff for that period of time how would these staff get paid so that they can continue to pay their monthly bills and provide for their families? Is Social Security going to be giving them checks for that period or is government putting something in place to assist these people. These are just some of the questions that they have yet to answer. yes your trying to protect the businesses but what about the employees that would be placed out of work for that time with no other income and bills just stacking up.

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    • Fact says:

      The fact is the employees affected by layoffs are expats with work permits. The government doesn’t give a rats a** about these people. They are only to be used and discarded when not needed. The businesses however are Belonger owned so all protection goes to them. And these people talk about slavery.

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      • Interested. says:

        Exactly. It is really time to wake up and realize where expats stand and are valued in Tortola. Instead of allowing employers to lay off all expats should with hold their labor and cripple the country. Starting with the health services.

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        • Please says:

          Please don’t think like that especially where the health service comes in to play.

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          • Interested. says:

            Really. It is time the expats show tolands who is the ones playing a critical role in the upkeep of the country. It may sound harsh but the expats has been treated harsher.take two days and let them feel it. It is used and abused by every sector. If expats start to import their boxes of food stuff from down island can the supermarkets survive. Stop buying clothes will the shops survive. Stop buying bread will the bakeries survive. I think the expats should pay you back for the mistreatment. Time to pack our bags and go home. Yes we have a home. Let nature little secret come to her knees. No I am not angry I am saying it real. Most toland not all they are a set of wicked people without a real identity. You are a British colony yet you don’t know if you are British or American. Watching American television. Driving left hand hand drive vehicles on the left side of the road. Instead of the pound using the us currency. After all these centuries still holding your mother apron. Sewage all over the place. Yet you think you are all that. If you could have done better you would not import labor you just don’t have the skills or the know how. After hurricane irma the Governor took over from your government and run the country why hmmm. No need to say go back home I already did and loving it. Wake up and realize you need us more than we need you. I dare you send the expats back home. Mark my word eventually we the expats will do what you can not effectively do. Run your country for you. Smile. Ut wouldn’t be long.

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          • @interested says:

            you have left but can’t do without the BVI it seems or why would you be reading the news?

      • Future says:

        You have a way of thinking that is very angry and dangerous. No time given for the decisions to come out in regards to those being affected. You do realize it’s not just expats, right? Or are you that narrow minded? Before jumping to conclusions give the government time. Have you seen what happened in Cayman. Businesses canceled work permits of expats and the Landlords evicted them. Where has that happened in the BVI? At least the Labour Code madre provisions that the person laid off would get severance. In Cayman they got nothing. Stop jumping to anger and calm your self.

    • Single Mom says:

      Well i am renting an apartment and also have one child in school plus all my bills and food for my small family.
      Will the Government talk to the Banks and landlords to allow a grace period for house rent. To be honest it will be very difficult for me to pay my rent being lay-off for 2 months.

    • Rubber Duck says:

      We must unlock the social security fund and give those people made unemployed payments to get them over this temporary period. Until such time as they can return to work.

      This is what other countries that are forcing businesses to close are doing.

  2. Smart move says:

    Good move. Thinking as an employer and as an employee. This too shall pass. I’m just sorry for those who got work for the 1st time since Irma, those who took out any kind of loans, those who’s already behind on rent and those who haven’t gotten any paycheck within the last 2 weeks go back.

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  3. UNFAIR says:

    This is totally unfair to the employees that they are laid off for 3 months without pay under section 107 and YOU ALL ARE LOOKING TO EXTEND THAT PERIOD FURTHER WITHOUT PAY…THIS IS TOTALLY UNFAIR. THAT KIND OF PROVISION SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN IN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE YOUR LABOUR SYSTEM IS NOT SET UP TO SUPPORT MOST EMPLOYEES IN THAT SITUATION. Firstly, the work permit regime does not allow for most employees affected (who are expats) to easily transition to another temporary job…these people often do not earn a living wage and so they live from paycheck to paycheck paying apartment rent into that is over $1,000 for a 2-bedroom and you have no unemployment benefits worked into your Social Security or NHI regimes. IF YOU GOING TO DO THAT MR MINISTER AT LEAST AMEND THE SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION TO ALLOW FOR PERSONS TO HAVE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS ALONG THE LINES OF THE SICK LEAVE BENEFITS. THE SYSTEM CANNOT BE ONE-SIDED FOR EMPLOYERS ALONE

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    • true says:

      you would prefer they be terminated right away, then have places all putting in new work permit applications? This is exactly what this measure is for.

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    • Reader says:

      @ Unfair. I’m a BVIslander. I pray that our Premier and Minister of Labor are already in discussions to make plans for the persons in the private sector who have been laid off without pay, to receive an appropriate percentage of their pay in these extreme and serious circumstances with which we are faced… this will help them to pay their food bills, loan and I also support those who recommend that the banks (especially), should agree to cut or defer up to an initial period of 3 months, loan payments of persons who have been laid off…

  4. LOL says:

    So easy to talk s**t ! Lay off then rehire or pay severance. Severance from what? Businesses are still reeling from the effects of the 2017 Hurricanes and the bungling of recovery by the past Government, now this?

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  5. Whataboutus says:

    I have been saying what about the small businesses that can’t afford to be closed for more than a few weeks in what was supposed to be peak season time. The sister islands rely heavily on tourists and have many workers from other islands. We cant send them home to their islands, which has the virus and we cant afford to keep them employed. Everyone has bills and need food and basic standards of living to uphold. They need to have flights like after the hurricanes. So that those who want to go home can. And put a hold on electricity bills.

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    • ok NOW says:

      Tell them stop sending home all their money and keep some here for rainy days

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      • Well well says:

        When tolans travel elsewhere to work dont thry send money back here to take care of there family? Or do you keep all the money yyou earn in that country for rainy days and leave your families here to suffer

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    • true says:

      Water is now free if they can do this for electricity then it will make the burden a lot easier.

      Like 12
  6. concerned says:

    Some of these businesses is going to use this as an excuse to lay off people. Why is he putting thing in their heads.

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    • Nurse/Doctors says:

      That is a very idea. Let them go where they come from. Virgin Islander are more than capable of handling Covid-!9 without this NOT FROM HERE PEOPLE. Look how well they did in Irma.


      • Well well says:

        I see your very ignorant or uneducated. Who was here rebuilding the nation after the hurricane? let me help you the same ones ungrateful people like you say should be sent home now after using their hard labour. If all the nurses and doctors leave how will you survive the virus? Are you trained in this field ? Ungreatful bunch of special black people.

  8. Lol says:

    Maybe Wheatley will paid our rent Bill’s for use a two bedroom 1200 I have to pay and no income coming in

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  9. Tola says:

    I would like to see one smart person from VG. Can anyone tell me? please

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  10. true says:

    This should be a wake up call this thing is going to last more than 3 months, not the 30 days……..

    • @true says:

      Probably true but this is no call to wake up to, we should’ve been wide awake. I think he said 3 months to factoring the usual slow season when hospitality businesses would downsize anyway until October/November. It’s an early slow season by months and will impact the BVI in a horrible way. I agree with the poster that work permit holders who need to leave island should be allowed to do so because being trapped here with zero income for the next few months will cause havoc in the place. When someone is desperate, hungry and their worst case is ending up at Balsam Ghut to get fed 3 meals a day anyway, what do you think the result will be? If you think coronavirus is bad, don’t get a handle of this economic situation and you would wish to have the illness instead of the economic fallout.

  11. Interested. says:

    What happens when an employer tries to exploit the system by laying off an employee for 10 weeks bring them back on for one and them lay them off again in an effort to avoid paying severance.

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  12. Dede says:

    There is a way to have some financial relief from situations like this. It call Unemployment Insurance. A set percent is deducted from your salary towards this. Similar to SS and NHI. When situations like this arise and one cannot work they can still have some income coming in.

    I know some of you will be mad about it but before you start posting ignorance, please stop and think about this. Every time we have these issues, we want government to fix it but don’t want to do what we all know needs to be done. How do you think the US is able to give out monies. It comes from taxes with a percentage going towards unemployment. It doesn’t just show up like that.

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  13. Social Security says:

    It is my view that elements of Social Security must kick in at times like this. It is a sickness we are dealing with and preventative measures being taken. If not, the burden on NHI will be too heavy to handle. Businesses and employees wills suffer through all of this – there is no win. Gov’t controls us at this point!

  14. Repeat says:

    no unemployment benefits worked into your Social Security or NHI regimes.

    Once certain people get their cushy office job they dont look to the less fortunate. If you are unemployed you get charged $75 a month for NHI.

    Do we have anyone with a brain in charge??? Or we just collecting money to fund our ego to the detriment of the people?

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