Employment Bill, 2016, returns to the Lower House for approval

Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Simon Stiell has given assurances that the wording concerning payment to workers for overtime on Sundays and public holidays, which were “unintentionally omitted”
in the Employment Bill, 2016, will be rectified at the next available sitting of both Houses of Parliament.

In presenting the Bill for consideration by members of the Upper House last week Wednesday, Sen. Stiell noted that despite the omission and due to the time sensitivity of the Bill, “the three parties involved, government, labour and employers, have agreed to pass the bill with a clear understanding that Clause 42, sub section 2 of the existing Act will prevail,” over what is stated in the new Bill.

Workers entitlement to “overtime payment of twice the hourly rate” (for work rendered on) Sundays and bank holidays,” as stated in the existing Act was omitted in the new Bill, which states workers entitlement to overtime “at a rate of not less than one and one-half times his or her wage for one hour.”

Having recognised the omission, which could have resulted in a serious rebellion from workers, Private Sector representative, Sen. Christopher De Allie, Labour representative, Sen. Raymond Roberts along with Sen. Stiell met with President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey, to discuss the issue during a short recess of the House.

When the House resumed, both Senators De Allie and Roberts alluded to the agreement until the necessary changes are made.

Sen. Humphrey welcomed the solidarity shown by the senators and what it means for tripartism in the country.

“This is not the first time that tripartism had been practiced in that regard because once this amendment is made, that is the law. But I think the fact that all parties involved have agreed that it was an inadvertent omission and it was not the intention of the parties to amend the law, and that they will act as though it was not amended; I think it’s a good sign for tripartite spirit in the country”.

President of the Technical Allied Workers Union (TAWU) Andre Lewis and Acting President of the Public Worker’s Union (PWU) Rachael Roberts, were also on hand to witness what transpired as a result of the omission.

Sen. Stiell assured the House that the omission in “Clause 44 Sub section 2 of the Employment Act, 2016 will be amended with the additional wording at the next available sitting of the (Upper and Lower) Houses of Parliament.”

The Employment Bill, 2016, which seeks to enhance the rights of both workers and employers in the existing Labour Code, was first passed in the Lower House on November 11, without any objection from the members.

The corrected version of the Bill will now have to be taken back to the Lower House for approval before it is re-read and passed in the Senate.

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