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Debate on flexi hours begins in Parliament

Featured Debate on flexi hours begins in Parliament
KINGSTON, Jamaica September 10,2014 - Debate on a Bill for the introduction of flexi work arrangements in Jamaica commenced in The House of Representatives yesterday, whereby the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act will be amended to give greater protection to the nation’s workers.

Labour Minister Derrick Kellier, who opened the debate on the Employment (Flexi-Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2014 in the House, said the new set of laws would lead to increased productivity.

He said the legislation would, among other things, change the number of hours employees can work. This will mean that there is no set 8 hour working period. The hours would be capped at 12 hours. All seven days will be considered potential working days, with a total of 40 hours per week. Overtime would be paid after.

Meanwhile, Mr Kellier outlined other changes to be made to facilitate flexi work arrangements. They include revised opening hours of businesses and restrictions on the working hours of women, which will allow them to work at nights just as men.

The Labour minister warned that employers will not be allowed to breach employees' constitutional right to worship when the flexitime law comes into effect.

He said that he would be seeking to get Parliament to change the law to allow persons who have suffered occupational detriment to take matters to the Ministry of Labour for consideration.

"The effect of this amendment to the bill is that employers who subject employees to occupational detriment, as a result of the workers' exercise of the right to worship, may be subject to the jurisdiction of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal," Kellier said.

'Occupational detriment' refers to any act or omission that results in an employee being subject to disciplinary action, dismissal, denial of promotion, harassment, intimidation or victimisation.

The bill proposes the removal of strictures that prevent work being done on Sundays and public holidays, legitimises work by women at nights in certain establishments, and removes restrictions on when businesses are opened.

"These provisions may have served our forefathers well years ago, but in the current dispensation, they are deemed restrictive and an impediment to our ability to compete in the global community," the Labour Minister said.

Last modified onWednesday, 10 September 2014 17:16