Fri | Apr 19, 2019

Gov't bares arms - Relaxes no-sleeveless policy

Published:Saturday | August 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Kamina Johnson Smith
Lorraine Clunie

The ugly ordeal that she encountered at the Office of the Contractor General for wearing cap sleeves is still fresh in her mind. So Lorraine Ross Clunie, creative planner and caterer, has welcomed the announcement by the Government to suspend the no-sleeveless attire policy.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday ordered the suspension of the practice by ministries, departments, and agencies to prohibit persons wearing sleeveless attire from entering government buildings.

Clunie, while recounting what happened, said that it was a much-needed intervention.

"I went to the Contractor General's Office one day to conduct business. I was wearing a designer top, which was a cap sleeve. I was also walking on a pair of crutches, so I was wearing a pair of sandals. When I got up there, the security told me that I would not be able to enter. The whole incident left a bitter taste in my mouth," she related.

"All in all, it is timely, and it should have been done a long time ago. I want to thank the Government of Jamaica for listening to the public," she added.

Kamina Johnson Smith, foreign affairs minister, explained on behalf of the Government that while the new regime took effect immediately, she was asking the public to bear in mind that a process of communication was needed.

"It is not unreasonable to anticipate that it will take a couple days for it to reach front-line staff directly, for clear, effective, and consistent implementation," she advised.

"It was not only the advocacy of the public, but also internal advocacy of the women of Cabinet who all stood on the issue. The issue was brought front and centre. The prime minister owned it and understood that it (no sleeveless policy) was outdated and archaic, and that it really doesn't have a place in a modern society," Smith continued.

Smith was quick to point out, however, that consultations were ongoing to make sure that there were no ambiguities in cases, including hospitals and schools in addition to employer-to-employee issues.

"The issue is about access to government services and government buildings. There has to be a broader review where there are particular sensitivities. So, certainly, if there is a health sensitivity in a particular hospital, then it becomes a health issue and not a rights issue," she said.

In a release yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister said that to ensure the formulation of a proper policy, in the medium term, the minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport had been mandated to formulate, subject to consultation, a government dress-code policy that was aligned with modern considerations, as well as the climatic realities of Jamaica.