April 30, 2020
EMPLOYERS ASSIST THE CAUSE OF EMPLOYEES AFFECTED BY COVID-19
Roseau, DOMINICA – The Dominica Employers’ Federation notes the public discuss with statements made by the Honourable Prime Minister on Saturday 25th instant regarding an effort to alleviate the financial challenges being faced by employees who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The role of the DEF in this matter is as follows.
The DEF is the national employers’ body on labour, employment, productivity, organisation, labour-market and world-of-work issues. The Federation is also the advocate for the social responsibility of enterprise. Concerned with the number of employees likely to suffer loss of income because of lay-offs and quarantine, and the CoVID19 related impacts on the business of enterprise, added to the fact that there was no public information regarding plans for a national income replacement initiative for employees, the DEF, in the month of March 2020, created a 10-POINT EMERGENCY BUSINESS AND LABOUR MARKET STABILISATION PLAN PROPOSAL which was approved by the Board of Governors, and communicated to some members for critique. Part of the Plan Proposal called for utilisation of funds from the Redundancy Benefit Fund as income substitution for employees. Following a meeting with the senior management of the DSS, and another between the Government and private sector leaders at which the DEF representative promised the Prime Minister that the Plan Proposal would be transmitted to him, this was done on March 25th and copied to the Cab Sec and FS.
Thereafter, DSS, DEF, DHTA and DAIC discussed, inter alia, a broader income substitution scheme with the potential to affect 7,500 displaced employees. This revised scheme was tabled with a provision to utilise $8M from the Fund. DEF gave its agreement in principle.
At a subsequent zoom meeting with the Hon Prime Minister, and Hon Minister for Tourism, among other Government officials, and private sector leaders from DEF, DMA, DBF, DAIC and DHTA, DEF explained the proposal to utilise $8M from the Fund to benefit up to 7,500 displaced employees for a period of up to six (6) weeks, following which the respective employers and employees will decide on redundancy or recall to work.
The Redundancy Benefit Fund is an employer-only supported Fund, held in trust by the Minister for Labour, but administered by the DSS. This Fund is separate and distinct from the DSS funds, and is managed and administered as such. Only employers can request a drawdown on the Fund. This Fund does not deal with long term, short term or employment injury financing and benefit payment at all. It is monies set aside by employers to assist them in times of force majeure when they may resort to redundancies and do not have the monies on hand to meet redundancy payments. At all material times, the DEF considered the utilisation of the Fund as a loan to be repaid.
Employers360 wishes to place on record the foresight of the Office and Board of Governors of the DEF, and the excellent partnership between the DEF, DSS and Government of Dominica in carving out this novel income substitution intervention to rescue our most critical resource in this time of great challenge. Employers should be commended. DEF Executive Director made two text transmissions to Matt Peltier of Q95FM, on April 28th & 29th, confirming that the DEF supports the release of $8M from the Fund. The DEF continues to maintain that the funds can and should be used to assist those whose income have been affected by COVID 19. It is very unfortunate that the public has made it a political matter and targeted the Prime Minister.
Dominica Employers’ Federation
P.O. Box 1783
22 Hillsborough Street,
Suite #2, Roseau
EMPLOYERS360® IS A MEDIA BRAND OF THE DOMINICA EMPLOYERS’ FEDERATION
P.O. Box 1783 * 22 Hillsborough Street, Suite #2 * Roseau * Dominica * Tel: 1 767 448 2314 / 295 2314 *