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Flexi talks wind down

Published:Friday | January 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

MORE THAN a decade of talks on flexible work arrangements are nearing conclusion with a joint select committee of Parliament completing its final meeting yesterday at Gordon House.

Committee members combed through a draft report with numerous recommendations which will be submitted to Parliament shortly for debate.

At yesterday's meeting, former president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, Senator Norman Grant, called for an exemption for agriculture workers from the proposed 40-hour workweek.

Grant argued strongly that a 40-hour workweek in the agriculture sector would saddle the employer with huge overtime costs.

He said this might threaten the viability of certain projects in the sector.

Grant received support from Government Senator Dwight Nelson, who argued that there were occupations which demanded special consideration.

No prescribed task time

According to Nelson, the committee should be careful not to prescribe to an employer the number of workers he should employ to carry out a task.

Committee chairman Pearnel Charles had earlier suggested that after a worker exhausted his 40-hour workweek, the employer could recruit another person to carry out additional work.

However, Senator Nelson expressed reservations about the proposal.

Responding to the proposal, committee member Fitz Jackson said the employer and employee could reach a mutual understanding on a particular work arrangement.

During the extensive deliberations which started on February 18, 2009, the committee heard submission from several stakeholders such as employers and various denominations representing the church.

Under the proposed flexi-work arrangements an employee would be confined to a 40-hour workweek. Duties carried out after this period would attract overtime.

The new arrangement will impose a 12-hour cap on the daily number of work hours.