BVI News

Layoff period temporarily extended to 7 months! Severance must be paid if jobs not restored by Oct 31

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, government has moved to temporarily extend the territory’s maximum layoff period from the usual three months to seven months.

Provisions to facilitate this move was made in the Labour Code (Amendment) Act 2020 which passed in the House of Assembly on Thursday afternoon, June 12.

Labour Minister Vincent Wheatley said the crux of the amendment is to insert a new subsection — Section 107(4) — which now allows employers to lay off their staff for beyond the previously-allotted three months before they are allowed to disburse severance pay.

Wheatley said: “The proposed extension will allow an employer to lay off an employee for a period beginning 14th March — which coincides with the cancellation of all cruise ships calls to the Virgin Islands and represents the first stage in the closure of our borders — and not to exceed 31st October 2020.”

“This is with expectancy that if the employee is not reinstated, severance would be payable immediately on or after 31st October 2020,” Wheatley added.

The Labour Minister said he believes the amendment will be beneficial to both the employer and the employee, stating that it will alleviate the burden on employees to seek alternative permanent employment while allowing for businesses to identify the necessary funding for a severance, where applicable, during the COVID-19 period.

Not a win-win for all

During the debate of the legislation — before it passed — senior Opposition legislator Julian Fraser challenged Wheatley’s claim that the amendment was beneficial to both the employer and employee.

“Who is this Bill really benefiting?” Fraser questioned. “Is it benefitting the employer or the employee? Don’t tell me it’s benefitting both [and that] it’s a win-win. It can’t be.”

“If you are supposed to pay an individual severance after three months and you are extending it to six months, it has to be benefitting the employer. What is an individual going to do being unemployed for six months? He’s going to look for a job and if he finds a job in the fourth month, it means that he doesn’t get severance pay does it,” Fraser added.

Severance pay should be protected

The Opposition legislator, therefore, urged Wheatley to include a section in the amended legislation that protects the severance pay of employees who seek temporary work from other employers during their layoff period.

“They (employees) want to make sure that if they go out and find a job, they are going to get their severance pay. And when you say you are making it clear, I want to see it in legislation. Don’t say it here and when you go in the legislation you can’t see it in there,” Fraser argued.

Will be addressed in Committee Stage

In response to Fraser’s comments, Minister Wheatley said he will be addressing the issue during the Committee Stage of the proceedings, which happens when the entire House privately convenes to carefully examine every clause a Bill and make any changes, as necessary.

“That is one adjustment that we have to make to make sure that these employees, who are put in an extended period, be allowed to work without affecting their severance in any way.”

Coming out of the Committee Stage, changes were indeed made to the amended legislation.

As of May 27, some 767 persons in the territory have been reported as laid off and 165 terminated because of COVID-19.

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32 Comments

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  1. hog city says:

    Ayo see why Fraser is needed in the house of assembly now? If it wasn’t for his brilliance those employers was going to use this as a loophole to avoid paying severance pay to their employees

    Like 19
    Dislike 6
  2. small man says:

    HON JULIAN FRASER IS LOOKING OUT FOR US ALL…GOD BLESS HE IS IN THERE.

    Like 14
    Dislike 4
  3. The Nation says:

    The good thing is that this extension period is coupled with access to unemployment benefits from the social security board. The Government needs to find a way to work unemployment benefits as a regular part of the system.

    Like 4
    Dislike 2
  4. cayman island says:

    If you don’t have work for them send them back to their country of origin, SIMPLE!

    Like 6
    Dislike 20
    • Born ya says:

      The minister make a wrong move ,especially after the experience he had with P**** C*****n. The law should also state that employees who don’t want to continue working, should be paid off,but instead he give them all the authority. This is a very bias company, and the managers have no respect for the workers, not only P***r, but all the others including the pensioner and his cousin who behaves like they own the company. Those who want to leave should be paid off also.i worked there for many ,many years and had to leave because they believe that they are above the law, and now they have a p*g for a human resources manager. Sorry pana,but keep y’all cool.balsam gut hard.

    • Dd says:

      You got issues, go pray

      Like 4
      Dislike 1
    • King says:

      Hi It’s easy to say send them back to their country of origin. Some people working here for more than 10 to 15yrs. And loss their job due to covid -19, even if they want to go back many of the countries border is still closed and no flight services. Consider about their family. They have been paying social security and taxes for this country for such long years , valuable decision taken by govt. for extending the lay off period for 7 months. This will allow the people to find next job or they can join back the same company if things go normal. Please support the people who get lay-off or don’t harass them saying send back to their country of origin. Of course if nothing works out they will leave.

      Like 9
      Dislike 2
    • @cayman says:

      Its not that simple, some people have commitment here. For those without commitment, yeah, but the reality is like people especially from the islands afraid to go back to their homeland.

    • Really??!! says:

      Why you don’t hush yo backside and go p**s yo bed?!! All the expats should go home and see what will become of alyo island!! Is dog alyo going be knocking. You think is Caribbean nationals alone is expat nuh? Alyo can’t do without expats because alyo entitled SOB’s don’t want to do the dirty work. Why you think so much expats here in the first place cause a lot of y’all think certain things beneath alyo and alyo mustn’t do it but one day!! Hope it ain’t going affect yo!! Even when you have a lot or in a better position than other people it’s still good to humble yourself! Remember that!

  5. island man says:

    What about expat locked out? How will they get to apply for government stimulus package.

    Like 3
    Dislike 4
  6. Don says:

    Your name fit you, Mr. Cayman islands shut your stupid mouth! My grandmother always say in life a jackass will always lift his tail and show people their stinking a**

  7. Ginger says:

    Wow just wow so everyone who laid off is from somewhere else. You all are so consumed by this down island thing it’s not even funny.
    Are down islanders the only ones who got affected by unemployment.

  8. Anonymous says:

    WELL! The minister gas done an injustice to employees, even after the most disrespectful experience he had with m*******. They will be happy to send the employees home,but when it comes to the severance, That’s “another story” as such there should be a clause stated that if the employee wants to discontinue their service, then they should be paid off.this company is very disgraceful and abusive.not only P**** C****** but the others ,right down. I learnt that they have a p** there, for the human resources department. Somebody will lose their cool,and it ain’t me,that’s why I leave years ago. Sorry for those who are there though.

  9. Born ya says:

    WELL! The minister gas done an injustice to employees, even after the most disrespectful experience he had with m*******. They will be happy to send the employees home,but when it comes to the severance, That’s “another story” as such there should be a clause stated that if the employee wants to discontinue their service, then they should be paid off.this company is very disgraceful and abusive.not only p C but the others ,right down. I learnt that they have a p** there, for the human resources department. Somebody will lose their cool,and it ain’t me,that’s why I leave years ago. Sorry for those who are there though.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Shiuld he not be looking out for everyone? If my business is closed how can i afford to pay severan

  11. Business says:

    A lot of business people do not have good practice in terms of laying off or in the event of uncertain times.

    When businesses apply for a trade licence, everytime they renew ensure that they have an amergency fund which will be dependant on the number of employees. If they have the same employees the account should increase.

    The account can only be accessed in the event of crisis or layoffs.

    I say this because it have businesses that take ss and nhi out or people pay and dont pay in. They live lavish lives, buy cars boats.

    If they have personal accounts then order thebcourt to pay their debt from their personal account!

    Like 5
    Dislike 2
    • @Business says:

      So let me get this straight, the business that is taking ALL the risk in the market must have an emergency fund but the employee who gets paid ON TIME, EVERY TIME shouldn’t have their own emergency fund? You can always tell the posters who don’t own businesses, always talking out of their asses. Also let’s say the businesses had an emergency fund, when they took monies to help their staff buy food and other supplies for 3 weeks of lock down plus to cover small bills, what other money do you expect them to have when Government isn’t helping, banks are fast asleep, borders closed, economy on the brink of collapse but all should be well and a business should just magically have money sitting around? You better get with the program and stop living in dreamland.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well said Fraser

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  13. Math says:

    This is not adding up!!! People expected to be out of work for another 4 mths and the red tape so called stimulus, how will ppl survive.

  14. .... says:

    the movement just proved that we could start getting some kind of tax return at the end of the year ….. this is what we need to be marching for

  15. Ooohhhh. Boiiii says:

    Dont believe this is happening ; How are these hotel working people expected to survive when Gov giving the Employers MORE ROPE to hang them ? A lot of people catching them arse to buy food : Cant pay their rent for months now AND you telling us GOVERNMENT just put these to SUFFER for 4 months more ?? Get. REAL 😘🤔🤔

  16. Ooohhhhj. Boiiiii says:

    I don’t believe this Is Happening ; How are these Hotel weekly paid workers going to survive ?? People catching dem arse to buy food : some ain’t pay rent for months AND you telling me GOVERNMENT has put them to suffer for another 4 months !!

    With the possibility that they out if a job AND might not get severance ??

    It is either STEALING will increase or we will have an up surge in PROSTITUTION for both MEN and WOMEN

    Times are serious

  17. No protection in past says:

    For years employers letting people go, closing doors and not paying severance or due benefits. Where are Government enforcements? What makes it different now? They didn’t largely enforce the previous Labour regulations. Why would we believe they will enforce new regulations?

  18. Sassy says:

    Then you all talk about black lives matter and hate yur own race.black people wake up theses down island and island man s**t got to stop. We a no better than America when we treat our Caribbean people like slaves

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  19. Public says:

    Why tha woman from CCT parking in the Labour Commissioner space?

  20. Bisa says:

    Is it just me or you folks noticing that the only places that still have curfews are BVI, St. kitts and Barbados, and the fact that St Kitts and BVI Covid announcements about Covid is identical. Please remember those are all independent countries. By the time this country opened its borders some businesses will no longer be around. What are considerations give to those persons from the Bvi who are outside the country, it very difficult getting flights back in , why not have persons in St thomas be able to come by sea west end. Why are creating undo and unnecessary hardship on folks who is already economically destitute.

  21. abdbff says:

    modern day slavery, disgraceful

  22. Frustrating says:

    Some people need immediate relief. Social Security does not have a timeframe or a clue as to when such will be given. This is so frustrating and stressful.

  23. Tbh says:

    To be honest,,, I just really really Really need a job…
    Like Anything would work right now,, and I’m not even kidding…

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