The proclamation of a Ministerial Decree with immediate effect regarding the filing of job vacancies and issuing of employment permits (see related story) should become a topic of much debate during the days and weeks to come. The intention of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Minister Pamela Gordon-Carty is to get more locals hired, but what further consequences there might be remains to be seen.
The introduction says that “several companies even 2½ years after Hurricane Irma are still continuously filing for labour permit renewals for foreign employees.” But it is government that in the past set short terms of one or two years maximum, leading to more requests for extensions in practice.
Other than in the introduction the word “renewal” is not mentioned in the actual decision and criteria, but assuming that it’s included in “application for a work permit” this measure could have serious repercussions for the ongoing rebuilding process and the business community in general. The sharpened requirements appear potentially time-consuming and seem to put enterprises at the mercy of the National Employment Service Centre (NESC) to deliver, so that their projects don’t suffer potentially costly delays not just for them, but for the tourism economy in general.
One of the other problems is that there are no reliable unemployment figures at least indicating it’s as “alarming” as stated. There is also concern that too few skilled persons are in fact registered as jobseekers.
So, the candidates presented by NESC must be interviewed in the presence of its designated representative and within four weeks notification on the result for each is required, whereby “rejections” are to be “adequately motivated.” What’s more, the NESC can “at its sole discretion decide to compel an employer to conduct a follow-up meeting, to discuss the findings of the employer and the decision to employ an interviewed candidate, or not.”
Non-compliance with these criteria “can constitute a ground for rejection of labour permit applications filed.”
Does all this that sound like government sitting too much in the chair of private sector companies?
You be the judge.