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Minister’s concern over ‘disproportionate’ number of Bermudian layoffs

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Jason Hayward, Minister of Labour (Photograph supplied)

The Minister of Labour said he has received complaints that “many” employers are laying off Bermudian workers disproportionately to work permit holders.

However, he admitted that he did not know the actual number of such complaints made to his own department.

Jason Hayward also said that workers were being dismissed if they did not adhere to mandatory Covid vaccinations, but he was unable to say how many workers had voiced their worries to the Government.

At a press conference yesterday morning, Mr Hayward said: “I would like to address a number of concerns reported to the Ministry of Labour from employees and members of the public about mandatory vaccinations within the workplace and the perceived treatment of Bermudian employees as it pertains to layoffs.

“Employees and their representatives from various industries have raised concerns that many employees are laying off Bermudian employees at a disproportionate rate to that of work permit holders.“

Pressed on how many workers had complained about the situation, the minister said: “I don’t have the complete statistics, but certainly it’s one too many.

“I don’t think the number of complaints is relevant.

“If one person is being negatively impacted or 100 persons being negatively impacted, the statement is still relevant.”

Asked about legal protections for workers involved in such situations, he said: “Every situation is different and so I don’t want to make a blanket statement as to whether or not there are protections for individuals — it’s based off their individual cases.”

Mr Hayward stated that some businesses were treating Bermudians unfairly compared with work permit holders.

He said: “Where you have a workplace where you have a … work permit holder and a Bermudian, what we are finding is that employers are retaining the work permit holders and laying off the Bermudians.”

He added: “It is understood that some employers do not have a layoff policy or schedule in place and are not fair and equitable in their decision making. And so I strongly advise employers to implement a layoff policy or schedule that is equally applied to all employees to avoid further complaints.”

Mr Hayward said some companies had laid off people for not being Covid vaccinated.

He insisted it was a personal choice whether to get Covid jabs, stating: “Unfortunately, some employers have practised laying off, suspending and even in some cases terminating employees who are not vaccinated.

“Employers and employees must recognise and understand that vaccination is a personal choice. An employee who chooses not to be vaccinated must not be treated with discipline or termination of employment.”

The minister said the hospitality industry was being particularly affected by the situation.

He said: “Hotels and restaurants will be a big sector as it pertains to layoffs. But we see it across the entire economy.”

Mr Hayward said that Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, will make a statement on Covid restrictions when the House of Assembly holds its first session of the year tomorrow.

He would not be drawn on whether the island might see an easing of such curbs.

The minister’s full statement can be found here.

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Published February 04, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated February 04, 2022 at 7:58 am)

Minister’s concern over ‘disproportionate’ number of Bermudian layoffs

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