Labour Minister Engages AHTA on Recent Amendments

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Alexandre DeBrito

Tuesday 16th April, 2019-The Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourist Association has sought further clarity to the recent amendments made to the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code in Parliament.

A meeting was held today with Attorney General Minister of Legal Affairs Public Safety and Labour the Hon. Steadroy Benjamin and included other legal officials within the Attorney General’s Chamber, the Labour Department and the AHTA.

AHTA President Alexandre Debrito expressed that the association has concerns with respect to terms of employment for contract workers and fixed term workers and needed clarification. The issue of payment of severance after hotels would have changed ownership was also raised by the body. Another concern is that hotels during normal operations would hire permanent staff needed to carry important duties, but during peak season would add staff on a temporary basis.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Steadroy Benjamin noted that “temporary” has been defined in the law, adding that the hotels can hire persons on a temporary basis, but emphasized it must be clearly defined in the contract. Minister Benjamin further noted that the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code (Amendment) Bill 2019 debated and passed in the Lower House of parliament on March 28th seeks to put an end to employers having people operate in a permanent position on a temporary basis. He noted that the practice is not right and no position that is deemed permanent should be filled temporary by an employer just to avoid passing on the benefits to employee.

The Minister added that further amendments to be made to the Labour Code would be sent to the hotel association and other stakeholders in order to garner feedback.

He underscored the importance of all parties being involved, since the changes that are being made to various legislation will affect them.

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