The House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 23, passed the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, paving the way for the introduction of flexible working time. The flexi-work arrangement is intended to increase employment opportunities, enhance productivity and afford workers the opportunity to better structure their lives through a flexible employee/employer work agreement. Making his contribution to the debate on the Bill, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, expressed his support for the legislation. “A worker can complete a work week in three and a half to four days and that means that it frees up Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for anybody who wants to worship during those periods,” Mr. Brown said. He added that with the compressed work week, workers can observer their religious day of worship without any fear of reprisal. Mr. Brown also highlighted that under the legislation, there will be no set eight or 10-hour work days, but instead these will be capped at a maximum of 12 hours. For his part, Opposition Member of Parliament for North East St. Andrew, Delroy Chuck, also welcomed passage of the legislation, while noting that if properly implemented it could lead to increased employment for Jamaicans. He further argued that the Government should implement the provisions of the Act within the civil service. “The first place they should start is within the various agencies that collect taxes, fees and whatever duties that need to be paid. Put in place this flexi time (and) make provision so that these collectors of taxes can be opened not until four o’clock in the evening, but until six and eight p.m. in the nights,” Mr. Chuck said. Closing the debate, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the Ministry will be intensifying its public education programme. He emphasized that it is important that employees and employers are cognizant of their rights under the legislation, “and that everyone appreciates that their freedom to negotiate is essential to the overall success of flexi work.” Mr. Kellier further informed that the Jamaica information Service (JIS) has been contracted to undertake further public education on the Ministry’s behalf through the use of the print and electronic media. He said the Ministry will also ensure that labour officers throughout the island are further sensitized to the new modality under flexi work. “Studies have shown that in those jurisdictions where flexi work arrangements have been implemented, there has been less staff turnover, greater employee satisfaction, a greater sense of satisfaction and a greater commitment to the job,” Mr. Kellier noted. The Bill will be sent to the Senate for its approval.
Last modified onThursday, 25 September 2014 06:32