Work permit reforms put more jobs off limits to non-Bermudians
A revision of Bermuda’s work permit policies has been completed and it will increase the number of job categories off limits to non-Bermudians.
Among other changes proposed are Special Category Work Permits and New Business Work Permits aimed at global and exempt companies.
The revised Work Permits Policy is expected to become effective on April 1.
When it does, it will put four more lines of work off limits to non-Bermudians. Only Bermudians or spouses of Bermudians will be eligible to apply to work as technicians, grocery packers, cashiers and couriers.
Those jobs have been added to the closed job category, while a number of others have been placed in the semi-protected restricted job category, where non-Bermudians can only be employed subject to limitations placed on the job category by the Home Affairs Minister.
Jobs being moved into the restricted category are; carpenter, administrative assistant, room attendants, kitchen porter, landscape gardener, and mason.
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said the various amendments seek to remove many of the barriers, real and perceived, associated with Bermuda being open for business.
He said the proposals were “broad and aggressive”.
Senator Fahy explained that Special Category Work Permits provide for the Global Work Permit, designed to assist global companies move employees throughout their organisation, including Bermuda.
While the New Business Work Permit allows an exempt company that is new to Bermuda to receive up to five work permits for overseas recruits for senior executive positions in an expedited fashion.
Another key change in the completed draft policy is the inclusion of a Recruitment Declaration Form.
Minister Fahy said this would be part of the work permit application process.
“Employers will be required to disclose all contacts made as a part of the recruitment process and declare that their recruitment statement is truthful.
“In the coming months, the Recruitment Declaration will be supported by legislative amendments designed to penalise employers who falsify or fail to disclose the details of the recruitment process wherein a work permit application is sought,” he said.
“The Recruitment Declaration Form will serve to strengthen the work permit application process and ensure that Bermudians are treated fairly. My aim is to challenge my colleagues to agree to legislate a hefty penalty for violators.”
The review of work permit policy was started under former Economy Minister Patrice Minors, and was continued by Senator Fahy following the change of government last December.
A wide cross-section of representatives from unions and employers’ and business groups and associations formed the Work Permit Stakeholder Group which worked on proposed amendments.
The Ministry of Home Affairs announced that it has released the final draft of the 2013 Work Permit Policies to the Work Permit Stakeholder Group for confirmation of amendments.
Sen Fahy said the process was an “effort to update, clarify, and modernise Bermuda’s work permit policies and further extend our open for business message”.
Among other amendments are:
Open, closed and restricted job categories: The following additions have been made to the closed category: technician; grocery packer; cashier; courier and additions to the restricted category: carpenter, administrative assistant; room attendants; kitchen porter; landscape gardener; mason.
Advertising and recruitment criteria: Advertising requirements have been amended requiring advertising a post a minimum of three times over an eight-day period and there is a listing under subsection Exceptions to Advertising Requirements; Automatic Waivers which identifies posts where a waiver of advertising is already applied.
Work permit processes: The subsection Changing Employers has been amended to reflect that a work permit holder may change jobs after two years of employment with his/her first employer. Sub-section Non-Bermudian Part Owners of Businesses has been expanded upon for clarity.
Job categories with special conditions: Senior care worker, photographer, seasonal work permit, and locum pharmacist permit have been added as new subsections.
Restriction on non-Bermudians seeking or obtaining employment: A defined salary structure has been added for single parents and/or married couples with dependent children.
Dependent children of non-Bermudians: New addition that allows children under 19 years of age to work during the summer without the requirement for a work permit.
Competency with the English language: Newly added section which has been in practice in past but has now been clarified and officially incorporated into the Work Permit Policies.
The Department of Immigration is to commence internal and external stakeholder training, revise the Work Permit Application Forms and documents and ensure that the Department and stakeholders are ready for the April 1 implementation day, Sen Fahy said.
He said training was a fundamental part of the Ministry’s overall goal to ensure that Bermudians are afforded opportunities in the workplace.
The Department of Labour and Training will soon become the Workforce Development Department and is to play a key role in ensuring the development of a skilled and employed workforce, said Sen Fahy.
The Minister concluded that it has been agreed the stakeholder group will continue its work in a bid to totally reform and modernise work permit policies and procedures and he looks forward to the ongoing support of the stakeholders as “we collectively work towards recovering, rebuilding and restoring the promise of Bermuda”.