COVID-19 update and press conference – March. 3, 2021. (PMO)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest test in the 81-year history of the Labour Department, but the Acting Chief Labour Officer, Claudette Hope-Greenidge, said the department is coping much better when compared to the first lockdown last year.

Speaking during the latest COVID-19 press conference titled COVID-19: Your Workplace and You at Ilaro Court this evening, Mrs. Hope-Greenidge said the department had been receiving good feedback from employers, organisations and representatives from human resource groups as far as its response times and availability to interact with employers, employees or their representative groups.

She added: “The COVID-19 situation has forced us to embrace the technology a little bit more. Our average age in the department is probably around the mid-40s. And for that reason, there were some hesitations, some challenges with coming on board with the technology, but we have overcome that and we are using it to our best advantage at this time.”

The top labour official said that in the current work landscape, specifically in the case of industrial relations and occupational safety and health, the pandemic had forced employers and employees to be engaged in a “better form of consultation”.

“There may always have been consultation, but the quality is what was concerning. But in this circumstance, the consultation has to be different and we sense that it is not only different and better because of what the Employment Rights Act may require, but there is a greater level of ‘stepping up to the plate’ of both ends of the fence – employer, employee and we are starting to see the benefits. It will take time, but COVID-19 has had some positives as far as the industrial landscape is concerned,” Mrs. Hope Greenidge underlined.

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