Wed | Jan 23, 2019

EDITORIAL - Review redundancy law

Published:Monday | November 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Nearly four years ago, the late tax expert and public commentator Ethlyn Norton-Coke was with great unreason rounded on by trade union leaders for calling for a rethinking of the redundancy law.

We agreed with her then, and continue to do so now, and believe that it should be among the matters seriously addressed by the proposed commission that will make recommendations for the reform of Jamaica's labour market. Indeed, even prior to Mrs Norton-Coke's statement, this newspaper had raised the issues in these columns.

The fact is that under the law, a person whose employment is being made redundant is entitled, under the law, to two weeks' pay for each year of employment up to 10 years. Beyond 10 years, the redundancy pay is three weeks per year.

However, firms usually make employers redundant when they are in trouble and their existence is imperilled. In other words, they are usually being asked to make these payments when they can least afford to. So, rather than reorganise, they are likely to attempt to limp along before collapsing.

Or, as Mrs Norton-Coke said at the time: "Many persons don't employ anymore because they (may) have redundancy payments. It (the law) is deterrence to employment."

increasing competitiveness

This would hardly have been the intent of policymakers when the law was introduced, yet its employment impact would have been exacerbated in an environment of increasing global competitiveness when firms must be nimble and workers are not expected to stay in the same job all their lives.

However, we appreciate the need to find a cushion, because workers who lose their jobs through redundancies - whatever the reason a company may restructure - is a real issue. Mrs Norton-Coke's proposal for an "employee-contributed insurance scheme", perhaps operated by the National Insurance Fund, or some variations thereof, continues to make sense.

Indeed, we had suggested that one consideration could be that workers who did not fall out of employment and, therefore, did not call on the fund for employment insurance could recoup some of their contributions to higher retirement benefits.

Investigate schools, Mr Thwaites

Several weeks ago, this newspaper stated its concern that it appeared that sport at Kingston College, especially its football programme, may have paralleled, if not gained ascendancy over, the school's core business of educating its students.

We were assured that the firing of the school's football coach was not related immediately to a heavy defeat suffered by the team and that the proximity of the two events was merely coincidental. We take KC's management at its word.

But recent apparently contrived results and approaches to other matches involving different schools - Jamaica College-Denham Town and Excelsior High-Holy Trinity High - have reignited our underlying fears, especially in the circumstance of a competition where substantial monetary prizes are at stake.

We are happy that ISSA is investigating these games.

We believe, however, that this should go further. The education ministry needs to take a long, hard look at the relationship between sports and academics in Jamaican high schools and ensure that principals are getting the balance right.

Ronnie Thwaites, we sense, has not been comfortable that this is the case. He must, in a robust way, do something about it.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.