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Flexitime bill to punish bosses who infringe on right to worship

Published:Wednesday | September 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE LABOUR ministry has issued a warning that employers will not be allowed to breach employees' constitutional right to worship when the flexitime law comes into effect.

Labour Minister Derrick Kellier said in Gordon House yesterday that the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act is to be amended to give greater protection to the workers.

He has signalled that he will be seeking to get Parliament to change the law to allow persons who have suffered occupational detriment to take matters to the Ministry of Labour for consideration.

"The effect of this amendment to the bill is that employers who subject employees to occupational detriment, as a result of the workers' exercise of the right to worship, may be subject to the jurisdiction of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal," Kellier said.

'Occupational detriment' refers to any act or omission that results in an employee being subject to disciplinary action, dismissal, denial of promotion, harassment, intimidation or victimisation.


The minister, who was opening the debate on the Employment (Flexi-Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2014 in the House, said the new set of laws would lead to increased productivity.

The bill proposes the removal of strictures that prevent work being done on Sundays and public holidays, legitimises work by women at nights in certain establishments, and removes restrictions on when businesses are opened. It is also proposed that the workday be capped at 12 hours, and that the workweek consist of 40 hours.

"These provisions may have served our forefathers well years ago, but in the current dispensation, they are deemed restrictive and an impediment to our ability to compete in the global community," Kellier said.

The debate on the bill continues next Tuesday.