The recent retrenchment in the public sector has shown some deficiencies in how some of the human resource management practices are carried out.
Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer Suckoo raised this concern today while delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony of the 16th annual conference of the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados Inc. at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, Aquatic Gap, St Michael.
The Government senator said: “Certainly we had seen some criticism of how the process was managed in terms of counselling, in terms of delivering the dreaded notice and it has thrown up some issues and some deficiencies. Of course, we realize that there has to be some training in handling terminations and other such issues.
“It has also highlighted the issue of performance assessment. We are aware that the terminations have been done not on the basis of performance assessment, but other criteria were used. It has made it clear that we have to strengthen our performance monitoring systems. That’s something I am speaking about for the public sector, Central Government and statutory entities. I know that is a challenge with the Human Resource Management Association and your members in the private sector,” Byer Suckoo added.
Issuing a word of caution to retrenched workers, the Minister of Labour pointed out that the National Employment Bureau should not be seen exclusively as an agency for overseas employment in Canada and the United States.
“It is also an employment agency for local recruitment. I would like to encourage everyone that is unemployed to use the NEB. After visiting the National Insurance Office, every retrenched worker’s next stop should be the NEB. Some people are not aware, but it is under the legislation of the Unemployment Fund that in order to receive unemployment benefits, it is not only that you have contributed and that you are now unemployed, but you also have to be actively seeking work. The way that is measured, you must go to the NEB periodically to look for work and to go for interviews where they send you,”
Byer Suckoo said.
She reminded workers that if they refused to go, then they were deemed not looking for work and disqualified themselves for unemployment benefit.
Byer Suckoo said: “Many people are unaware of that and they believe once they are unemployed, they present themselves to the NIS they are automatically entitled to 26 weeks of unemployment benefit. Many people say they are going to look for work until the unemployment money is exhausted. That is not how the process is expected to be managed. You are not expected to go to the NEB to get a card signed, but to indicate that you are actually looking for work.”
Earlier in examining human resource departments, Byer-Suckoo noted that many years ago these departments were seen as being involved in paperwork, a far cry from what they are today, a critical part in the organization of a company.
Referring to the theme of the seminar, Vision For Modern HR Management –– The New Normal, the Minister of Labour argued that the new normal would not go away.
Looking at labour legislation soon to be enacted or amended, Byer-Suckoo said the Sexual Harassment At The Workplace Act would soon be brought to Parliament; the Anti-Discrimination At The Workplace Act will also be coming; an amendment to the Holiday With Pay Act; and amendments to the Minimum Wage Act.