In light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation and the Government stipulated national pause aimed at combating the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases across the island, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) recently hosted an informational session entitled “What Businesses Need to Know During the Current COVID-19 Environment.”
The session is part of the Barbados Chamber’s ongoing efforts to keep members of the business community and the wider private sector fully engaged on critical issues that are impacting businesses during the current climate.
“We recognise that in times of crisis it is very important to keep our communication lines open and to keep our members engaged while providing a forum for members of the business community to keep abreast of developments that will impact their businesses during this pandemic. Our commitment is to keep members of the Chamber sensitized about how to adapt and pivot in the face of the unprecedented challenges facing businesses and the country in general,” said Lobban-Clarke, BCCI Executive Director.
The recent informational session sought to address labour and employment issues impacting businesses during this current pandemic and to provide the private sector with an update on Government’s ongoing COVID-19 measures and the roll-out of the vaccination which recently commenced with frontline workers of supermarkets and other essential businesses.
The discussions were led by Dr Anton Best, Senior Medical Officer of Health, HIV/STI Programme, Ministry of Health and Wellness; Dr Omar Edwards – Medical Officer of Health, Ministry of Health and Wellness; Claudette Hope-Greenidge, Chief Labour Officer, Labour Department, Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations and Sheena Mayers-Granville – Executive Director, Barbados Employers’ Confederation.
President of the BCCI, Trisha Tannis in her opening remarks stated, “there is a natural preoccupation with the impact on the labour market as it relates to both existing curfew periods. This session is intended to explore these issues and the options available to businesses within the context of the legislation.”
“Businesses are suffering severely and are attempting to keep the companies afloat amidst the ongoing pandemic,” Claudette Hope-Greenidge, Chief Labour Officer stated.
She encouraged greater collaboration between businesses and the Labour Department as it relates to labour and employment issues while ensuring that the rights and responsibilities of both employer and employee are protected.
Hope-Greenidge stressed that there were no changes to the labour legislation during the period of the ongoing pandemic and as such, an employer is required to comply with the legislation including where an employee cannot report for work due to being quarantined.
Employers were encouraged to continue open dialogue with staff and if needed to make the necessary intervention to sensitize employees about COVID-19 protocols and the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In his presentation, Dr Anton Best noted that the indicators for the success of the ongoing measures were “trends of new cases within a 14-day period; rate of causes per 100,000 population, case fatality rates, positivity rates, occupancy of isolation beds and public adherence to measures”.
He added that, “we need to effectively deal with COVID-19 through collaboration with various entities such as the BCCI, the businesses community and the public. ”
Participants were also advised that as more persons are vaccinated the less persons will be in quarantine or isolation as a result of exposure to the virus.