Workers whose employment is being threatened by their employers because of their reluctance to take the COVID-19 vaccine can take the matter to court.
Veteran trade unionist and Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn told Barbados TODAY that he was not impressed with some local companies threatening to fire staff if they do not take the vaccine. He said according to Section (6) of the Employment (Prevention of Discrimination) Act 2020-26, workers should not be tossed out of companies because they refuse to take the jab.
Senator Franklyn said too many employees are being given the option to take the vaccine or leave and their cries for help are going unanswered by the authorities.
“They can go to the Labour Department and then the Labour Department would then refer them to the Employment Rights Tribunal if it reaches that part. It will happen once the employees make the complaint.
“Unfortunately now however, the Government has depleted the staff at the Labour Department. There were nine labour officers dealing with these cases and they were not enough and now they are down to five doing the work.
“And they have taken some of the labour officers and put them to do clerical work in the ministry itself. So, the people cases are not being heard and the labour officers are not getting the work done because there are too many cases.
In recent days, management of Hill Milling and Lionel C Hill Supermarket issued a memo to staff with a reminder that all employees must be vaccinated by Thursday, September 30 as was stated back in July.
The memo advised staff that no employee will be allowed to enter Lionel C Hill Supermarket to work without a vaccination certificate.
The memo, which has been confirmed by Hill Milling and Lionel C Hill Supermarket Managing Director Richard Ashby, read: “You may return on pay day for any monies due to you and your termination letters.”
Meanwhile, Digicel has also mandated that staff be vaccinated by October 15, or show proof of a negative PCR test every two weeks.
However, Senator Franklyn stated that while Government has the power to introduce legislation to mandate the vaccination it is not being done at this time perhaps because the next General Election is near.
“So they are allowing employers to break the law and they are allowing them to get away with it because it would not be in their best political interest. The law states that an employer shall not require a person to answer questions in relation to or undergo a test for a medical condition as a precondition to enter a contract of employment or as a condition for the continuance of employment.
“But they are doing it and the Labour Department and the minister are not saying to the employers ‘you are breaking the law’. Then you would hear politicians pretend that they love workers and all of that stuff. They love votes, not workers.” ([email protected])