Nearly 90 work permits refused due to moratorium
Close to 90 work permits were refused last year due to a moratorium designed to reduce the number of non-Bermudian workers in certain areas.
The ban on permits for landscape gardeners, cleaners, kitchen porters and skilled labourers was implemented in February 2011 to create job opportunities for Bermudians.
Business Development Minister Patrice Minors told the House of Assembly that backlogs in permit processing caused by the moratorium are now being addressed.
“Last year, close to 90 work permits in the moratorium categories were refused. This moratorium remains in place,” she said.
“Honourable Members will be aware that over the past several months the processing of many work permit applications has been delayed. When processing resumed recently, the work permits were categorised by area of specialisation.
“The kitchen porter work permits were the first to be processed, and in cases where applications for the renewal of work permits were refused, many employers were initially given an aggressive timeline associated with the stop-work notification.”
She said she understood many employers deemed the timelines to be short.
However, she said: “It is important to note that these work permits had in fact already expired and all of the employers had benefited from continuity of service from these workers during the period that the processing was delayed.
“Many will already know that custom and practice provides for work permit holders to continue to work once a work permit has been submitted to the Department for renewal. The employee continues to provide services until a decision is reached regardless of the expiration of the work permit.
“Having reconsidered the initial ‘stop work’ dates provided to the employers of kitchen porters affected, I can now advise that several kitchen porter work permit applications and appeals have since been considered and in the region of 25 kitchen porter work permits have been refused. These workers have been advised to settle their affairs and leave Bermuda.”
She added that the adjudication of work permit applications has now commenced on construction work permits; another category affected by extended processing delays.
“There was a significant backlog associated with mason and carpenter work permits. During the past week, the team has been engaged in processing the backlog in this area,” said the Minister.
“To date, many permits have been refused and in accordance with discussions with the Construction Association an opportunity for a construction job fair has evolved,” she said.
“Planning is currently in progress and as at the latest report, 18 construction companies have signed on to participate in the job fair. It is expected that this number will increase as we work towards delivering this initiative.“
She added that following the completion of the construction company work permit applications, the remaining outstanding categories, including cleaners and landscapers, will be processed.
The process of creating job opportunities for Bermudian workers is supported by a series of training and employment programmes in partnership with industry partners, according to the Minister.
She highlighted programmes covering areas including horticulture and being a waiter, and explained the Department of Labour and Training will underwrite the cost of certain types of training for job seekers who are receiving financial assistance.
Almost 600 people attended Department-sponsored training programmes last year, compared to 219 the year before.
“The huge increase in the number of persons attending training programmes from 2010 to 2011 can be attributed in part to the Department offering a wider selection of programmes and making these programmes available to the general public as opposed to limiting the offering to registered clients of the Department of Labour and Training,” she said. “Sustained unemployment levels are of course another contributing factor.”