Whether they were termed retrenchment, lay-offs or compulsory retirement, over the past two years, there have been several heavily-publicised instances of termination of employment both in the public and private sectors.

Some of these cases were disputed and have ultimately been escalated to the highest level, where a final decision must be made by the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT).

The process of Employment Termination was one of the topics in a series of seminars held in Queen???s Park by the Labour Department as part of its 75th Anniversary celebrations.

Labour Officer and facilitator of the seminar, Pauline Farnum, summarised the chapter of the 2013 Employment Rights Act which spoke to the process of fair termination.

???The Employment Rights Act basically says that unless the employer follows a specific process where it comes to capability or conduct of an employee, then the person would have been dismissed unfairly,??? she explained.

The Labour Officer added that when speaking about the conduct and capability of an employee, the fair process is to give that person warnings, which could be verbal or written, as well as disciplinary meetings.

She continued that according to the Act, ???there is no set number of warnings which need to be given before an employee is terminated???.??The Labour movement in Barbados was ignited by the 1937 Riots, which demanded a major change in the deplorable treatment of workers.

The subsequent passing of the Trade Union Act in 1939, which came into force in 1940, provided legal sanction for the Barbados Workers’ Union to be founded on October 4, 1941. Since then, several unions have been founded and continue to fight for the rights of workers today.

Ms. Farnum advised: ???The employee can contact their union or the Labour Department for assistance if they want to appeal the termination, as everyone is given this right by law.

???The first step is to appeal to the employer by writing to them within a given time frame. If the employer does not override the decision, then the employee or their union representative should inform us at the Labour Department. At this level, we would have conciliation meetings with the employer and employee; these meeting may include any member of their union. If it is not resolved, then the process can go as far as the ERT. The Labour Department cannot determine who is allowed to go to the Tribunal.???

In a case where a worker has accepted his or her termination of employment, the Labour Department has partnered with the National Insurance Scheme to facilitate a retraining programme in order to help persons to get back into the world of work.

???If there is a case where a person is lacking in skills or would like to diversify, we offer ongoing training programmes in certain areas, which would allow persons to retrain and develop their skills so they can regain employment. Persons are also encouraged to come to the department so that we are aware that they are seeking employment,??? the Labour Officer explained.

Sometimes, the circumstances which cause you to lose your job are out of your control. However, the Labour Department provides services which can assist you in appealing your termination or moving on to other occupation. For more information, persons may contact the Labour Department by calling 310-1500; visiting its website at www.labour.gov.bb, or emailing, labour@labour.gov.bb.


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