Hayward lays down law to employers over contractor contracts
Workers have complained they are being taken advantage of through “precarious" contracts which labelled them as independent contractors, the labour minister said yesterday.
Jason Hayward added people were worried that some businesses had used the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic to insist people signed independent contractor agreements so firms could avoid payment of benefits such as health coverage, social insurance and payroll tax.
Mr Hayward warned companies not to force extra financial burdens on workers with contracts that did not cover core benefits.
He said: "The Ministry of Labour has received several reports from workers and members of the public about unfair contractual terms and employment contracts that seem to take advantage of the current economic climate in Bermuda and challenge finding suitable and sustainable employment.
"Workers and their representatives within various industries have voiced concern that many employers are offering employment contracts that do not cover the essential benefits, including health insurance, social insurance, and payroll tax.
"These contracts usually referred to as independent or consultant contracts, state that workers are responsible for their own benefits and make their pay rate to compensate for these statutory deductions non-negotiable.
"Workers on these precarious contracts often have roles resembling a genuine employee rather than an independent contractor within an organisation."
Mr Hayward insisted that independent, or consultant contracts should generally be used for people with specific skills or expertise.
He added: "Employers should not use them to replace or impose unnecessary burdens on the typical everyday worker, forcing them to fall outside of the benefits and protections of the Bermuda Labour Code.“
The Minister said the Employment Act 2000 had been amended earlier this year to enable the manager of the Government’s labour relations section to issue guidance on whether a working relationship resembled that of an employee rather than an independent contractor.
The Minister appealed to workers concerned about their employment contracts to get in touch with the labour relations section.
Mr Hayward said the labour code gave employers, workers, and the general public the option to remain anonymous if they asked for information or filed a report.
Employment law violations can also be reported here.