Warning that money was not everything, Minister of Commerce and Industry Donville Inniss Tuesday called on local employers to focus on safeguarding their employees’ health.
He was at the time addressing the official launch of a medical facility, which will be opened Monday to Fridays at the Harbour Industrial Estate to provide free health care services to workers at KM2 Solutions.
The move forms part of the company’s health initiative and will give employees direct access to a sickbay, an on-site fitness trainer, health insurance coverage and discounts on pharmaceuticals.
In welcoming the initiative, Inniss, a former minister of health, said it was something other companies should emulate to ease the strain on the Government-run health system.
He also cautioned employers of the need to focus on the work environment and not just wages and salaries or issues of promotion.
“Employers in Barbados have a duty to provide the right kind of environment for employees to be as productive as possible.It is not just about salaries, it is about the physical environment within which they work, whether the air-condition works or not, the bathroom facilities and all of those,” Inniss said.
The minister argued that a healthy employee was a more productive worker. Therefore, he said, “the time that would otherwise be spent taking a day or two off from work to go to the polyclinic and waiting for a couple hours to be seen and perhaps to be sent elsewhere for diagnostics . . . all of that time now will be eliminated or reduced.
“So that certainly ought to boost your productivity in the organization,” he added.
KM2 Solutions’ Vice President for the Caribbean Tony Jennings described the initiative as “a worthwhile investment” for the company.
“This provides health care free of charge to our employees, which is a very important thing when you think about the number of people who don’t get or seek medical attention, be it because of inconvenience or the costs associated,” Jennings said.
While stating that the rate of absenteeism and sick leave was high in Barbados when compared to other jurisdictions, he said the facility was not designed to address such issues.
“The purpose of this is, when you have a critical mass of 900 people and growing, and they have a need for access to health care, we have a number of situation where people have fallen ill and we have had to wait for ambulances or take them personally to the hospital for care and they have to wait long times to see a doctor. We don’t want that for our employees,” he explained.
However, he did not say how much it would cost the company to operate the medical facility or the level of initial investment, but said it would be staffed by two doctors, along with some volunteers.