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House: call for changes to Employment Act

Rolfe Commissiong has suggested that the Employment Act needs to be amended so that employers are obliged to pay overtime rates to employees working in excess of 40 hours a week.

During the motion to adjourn in the House of Assembly on Friday, he said the practice of employers being able to negotiate overtime rates with their employees could be detrimental to Bermudians who insist on proper overtime rates.

He referenced The Royal Gazette article about Bermudian carpenter Pernell Grant who had been discriminated against on the grounds of his nationality.

Mr Grant said he believed the reason he was not being given overtime opportunities “may have been caused by his insistence of being paid one-and-a-half times the base wage for work beyond 40 hours while other workers receive straight time”.

Mr Commissiong said: “Overtime pay for overtime work should be considered a right, not a privilege”.

Referring to the Employment Act, Mr Commissiong pointed out that exemptions could be made for overtime rates under agreement of the employer and employee.

“This is where the tyre hits the road,” Mr Commissiong said, adding that the clause in the Act should be “amended or eliminated”.

“These practices have gone on for decades and it is time for them to stop. Some practices were going on when the PLP were in power, too. Practices that impact negatively on Bermudians and black Bermudians in particular.”

In response to Mr Commissiong's comments, the newly appointed Minister for Immigration, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, firstly highlighted that the employee in question was employed with the company during the Progressive Labour Party's reign but went on to say: “I don't wish for our people to be left wanting in terms of their employment experience but you can be assured that as we go through our weekly meetings, as we go through the discussions about what happens down at Workforce Development, we will make sure and put this right.”

Seeking amendments to Act: Rolfe Commisssiong (File photograph)

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Published June 06, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 06, 2016 at 9:13 am)

House: call for changes to Employment Act

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