Seminars to promote better understanding of Employment Act
Employers are being given the opportunity to better understand their rights under the Employment Act, and also learn how to create better working environments and reduce labour complaints.
Those are some of the goals of a series of outreach seminars that begin tomorrow and will continue through the year.
The initiative is being driven by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Minister Michael Fahy said: “Our overall goal with this outreach is to assist employers in better understanding their rights, their employees’ rights and their obligations under the law.
“We believe that communication is key in the workplace, and knowing how the Act works will help in fostering better working environments for both staff and management. We also feel it will help to reduce the number of labour complaints reported to the Labour Relations Section.”
Labour dispute cases in Bermuda rose from 519 in 2011 to 565 last year.
The Department of Workforce Development’s seminars aim to raise awareness of the Employment Act 2000 and will include discussion of the new 29A section of the Act. Also under the spotlight will be good labour relations and ensuring and promoting fair treatment of employers and employees.
Mr Fahy said the department is taking a proactive stance based on analysis of recent data. That data reveals that last year there were 266 complaints (non-unionised) filed pursuant to the Act and 64 grievances (unionised) filed pursuant to the Trade Union Act 1965, the Labour Relations Act 1975 and/or the Labour Disputes Act 1992.
Complaints filed pursuant to the Employment Act 2000 related to terminations in 120 cases, redundancies in 38 cases and vacation pay in 25 cases. Out of these matters, 17 were sent to the Employment Tribunal in 2012, eight cases were sent to arbitration and 48 companies required mediation with union representatives.
Last year seven organisations gained union recognition and one was decertified.
Of the 17 cases sent to the Employment Tribunal — 10 were settled in favour of the complainants, five in favour of the respondents and two were settled by the parties without going to the tribunal panel.
As of January this year there were 109 active and open cases with the Labour Relations Section of the Department of Labour and Training, all reported in either 2012 or early 2013 except for six cases dating from 2010 and 2011.
“What these statistics indicate is that there is considerable activity in the workplace regarding labour matters, conflicts and resolutions. There was a dramatic increase in the number of consultations from 95 in 2011 to 235 in 2012. So we think it is very timely for our team to go out and have these conversations with businesses about the importance of the Employment Act and their rights which fall under them,” said the Minister.
Starting tomorrow a team of Labour Relations Officers will host forums with organisations such as the Bermuda Employer’s Council, the Chamber of Commerce and others to educate their members on the Employment Act. Five or more seminars are planned this year.
Any business or organisation wishing to receive a presentation from the Department of Workforce Development should contact the department directly to arrange a date and time.