Employees temporarily left on the breadline by the ongoing national shutdown are again being advised that they cannot be forced to take vacation without 14 days notice.
Word of this from the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) who on Tuesday sought to provide clarity on the controversial issue.
According to a statement from the BWU General Secretary Senator Toni Moore, businesses closed during the shutdown cannot force workers to take holiday if a 14-day notice had not been issued.
Despite the ongoing trying situation, the union said where “insured” persons are temporarily jobless, they could rely on their unemployment benefit.
The statement however suggested that employees could opt to forego the stipulated notice period though they could not be given an ultimatum between taking vacation immediately and being laid off.
“Where the employer is unable to cover workers financially during the period of shut down and lay-off certificates are issued, NIS will satisfy its obligations as provided for under the National Insurance and Social Security Act and the Employment Rights Act,” the statement added.
Last Thursday, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced a partial national shutdown for two weeks giving employers less than 48 hours to make adjustments. In addition to forcing the closure of businesses deemed “non-essential”, the curfew imposed a total shutdown between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Since then, Attorney General Dale Marshall warned that anyone attempting to compel an employee to take vacation without the 14-day notice would be in breach of the Holidays With Pay Act.
On Tuesday, President of the Barbados Private Sector Association Ed Clarke stressed that many businesses which were cash-strapped prior to the COVID-19 crisis will be unable to absorb weeks without revenue. While speaking on VOB’s Sagicor’s Early Business, he explained the rationale behind a number of businesses attempting to forge compromises with their workers during the uncertain period.
“What has happened over the last few years is that businesses have been severely impacted in Barbados and they were now basically on the way back to get out of a hole that we have been in for many years. The focus has been that we just cannot continue to pay employees if there is no revenue coming in. We just don’t have the cash flow to support such a cause at this time,” he added. (KS)