The National Insurance Board (NIB) has submitted a Board Paper to the Ministry of Finance, seeking approval to become a statutory board.
Chairman of the National Insurance Board, Leslie Haynes, made the disclosure during a COVID-19 update and press conference entitled COVID-19: Your Workplace and You from Ilaro Court, this evening.
Pointing out that the National Insurance Board is a unique board, the Chairman noted that it is the only board of a department in central government which sets policy, however, staff at the National Insurance Office report directly to the Ministry of Finance.
The Chairman noted that the operations of the National Insurance Office during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted to the NIB, that “in order to better maintain or improve efficiencies at the National Insurance, we should transition to a statutory body, rather than remain a department of government”.
He went on to explain the rationale for the requested transition to a statutory board. “If the Ministry of Finance and Cabinet approve the transition to a statutory body, the staff at the NIS, those who accept the positions, will now fall under the Employment Rights Act.
“Of course, they will be employed on the same terms and conditions as before and there are certain different changes, but what that means is that the Board at the National Insurance would then have a little bit more control, a firmer hand with respect to the National Insurance staff working in the areas in which they are best suited,” Mr. Haynes said.
Emphasising the advantage of having control over the hiring and firing of staff, the Chairman noted that in the retrenchment period back in 2018, the department lost key trained staff, and had to apply to the People Resourcing and Compliance Directorate for staff, which took time.
“As a statutory body, we will be able to place staff in positions quickly. We will be able to take staff and put them in positions to which they are best suited, and importantly, as well, more importantly, we would not lose staff who are suitable for the position which they are presently in to other ministries, so that we will become a more comprehensive unit, a more efficient unit,” the Chairman explained as the major benefit of the transition.
Mr. Haynes noted that even with the request to transition from a board in central government to a statutory board, it would still be a reflection of the social partnership in Barbados between Government and the private sector, given the important role the National Insurance Scheme plays in society.
He said it would still have representatives from the Barbados Employers Confederation, the Barbados Workers Union, the National Union of Public Workers, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and three members of the board appointed by the Prime Minister.