House preview: big day for legislation
Legislation to give businesses more time before they have to make laid-off staff redundant will be debated in the House of Assembly today.
The Employment Amendment Act 2020 will maintain the requirement for employees laid off for more than four months to be made redundant and paid severance. But the three months from April 1 to June 30 will not be included in the four-month period.
The legislation was tabled last week by Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour. Hotels had asked for changes to the maximum layoff period before redundancy kicked in after the Covid-19 crisis forced the closure of properties across the island.
The Bermuda Hotel Association said in a letter to David Burt, the Premier, that if the law remained unchanged, “businesses, including a percentage of our member properties, will be forced to permanently close their doors with a catastrophic and negative impact on our economy”, as well as an increase in unemployment.
Parliament is also expected to debate amendments to the island's gambling regulations to allow the deferment of casino fees in “exceptional circumstances”.
The Casino Gaming (Casino Fees) Amendment Regulations 2020, tabled in the House last week by Mr Burt, would give the Minister of Finance the power to waive or defer fee payment if there was a state of emergency, a public health crisis, major hurricane or other catastrophe.
Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said that he will table amendments today that would allow more people to dip into their pensions as part of the Government's Covid-19 relief measures. The move means that those under the age of 65 would be eligible to take out $12,000 from their pensions even if they have already retired.
It would also allow those aged over 65, but still working, to withdraw up to 25 per cent of their pensions. Mr Dickinson said the change would “increase the scope of coverage and provide additional access to plan members' contributions”.
A series of ministerial statements are also expected. Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, is to discuss a special development order for the former Riddell's Bay golf course.
The SDO is believed to be linked to a plan to rezone the land to permit construction of houses and the creation of a 66-acre nature reserve.
• To view the Order of Business, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”