August 14, 2009
Dismissed workers urged to check out Labour Department

This country’s Labour Commissioner is urging persons who have been dismissed from their jobs, to visit the Department’s Murray Road offices to ascertain that they were fairly treated during their dismissal.{{more}}

“A number of people here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines do not know what their rights are legally when they are made redundant. I am encouraging employees to come to the Department of Labour to be advised on their legal entitlement.”

Patrice Roberts Samuel spoke to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday and had special words of wisdom for persons who have been affected by the current economic crisis which has the world, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in a stranglehold.

Samuel said persons who have been made redundant and have received severance pay should try to save as much as possible, since they do not know when they would be re-employed.

“If you are being made redundant, everyone is aware that redundancy payment is only to take care of you for a certain amount of time. You don’t know how long it is going to take you to get a job, so you have to use that money wisely.”

Samuel recommends that persons keep that money in a ‘special account’ and withdraw only for everyday living expenses.

“Don’t go and pay off your debts at one time, because you don’t know how long it is going to be before you get another job.”

The Commissioner also revealed that employers who are making workers redundant should indicate how much and when the employees will be paid.

She hinted that just recently, one company failed to indicate the amount that it would be paying its employees; this she said should not be done.

“Employers need to tell employees how much they will receive and when; not just ‘a specified amount’ or ‘a portion.’”

She indicated that business places also call on the department, seeking advice on how to handle employer/employee relationships on a regular basis, which she believes is a good thing.

She indicated that on occasions, she advocates that where possible, companies avoid cutting staff by reducing employees’ work weeks, which may work to both parties’ advantage.

“You can reduce the work week so automatically that person’s salary is reduced. At least the person will have a job to go to the next day,” she said.

She also suggested that persons can seek alternative employment, which she acknowledged, because of the current economic situation, may be difficult.

Samuel indicated that her department airs a radio programme aptly entitled “Employment in Focus” every Monday at 9:30 a.m. on NBC Radio, from which persons can receive advice on employment issues.

As for the current economic crisis, the Labour Commissioner says that she is optimistic that the tide will turn eventually although she is uncertain when it will happen. (JJ)