Labour Officer, Valerie Quintyne, speaking at yesterday’s seminar.

As Barbados grapples with the challenges of the global economic crisis, one government department is adopting a more proactive approach in keeping stakeholders abreast of any issues which may emerge.

The Labour Department has been hosting a series of labour management and industrial relations best practice seminars in an effort to keep employers and workers up-to-date about their rights under the existing legislation.

Labour Officer, Valerie Quintyne, speaking at yesterday’s session at the Warrens Office Complex, said the public was becoming increasingly aware of issues related to the financial crisis including possible lay-offs, wage cuts and terminations, and as such, the department has been inundated with calls about some of these matters.

According to Ms. Quintyne, it is important that all parties in the labour market observe the legislation, since she stressed that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

In this regard, she explained that the Labour Department was working diligently to ensure that information on pertinent labour legislation was properly communicated and disseminated to all the stakeholders, particularly employers and workers.

“Possible options [must] be taken so that jobs can still be safeguarded, best practices observed, and laws not breached, while still ensuring the employers’ survival and viability,” the labour official explained.

She revealed that an additional challenge for the department was the growing number of persons who were finding work in the informal sector.  She added that in turn this meant the labour inspectorate had to look at innovative ways to reach this group and other similar types of workers.

“This has made the department even more determined to target vulnerable and special groups of workers such as non-nationals, young people, women, persons in the same informal sector, the self-employed and sub-contractors, among others, for the provision of its employment services,” she remarked.

The 25 participants also heard a presentation from Labour Officer, Wayne Sobers, who looked at the role of the Labour Department and the Chief Labour Officer.

He also examined several critical pieces of labour legislation including the Shops, the Holiday with Pay, Employment of Women (Maternity Leave), and Protection of Wages and the Severance Payment Acts.

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