On Friday, 26 November, 2021, the Labour Minister, Jason Hayward gave detail to the work of the Labour Advisory Council (LAC). The LAC was formed under recent changes to the Employment Act, and seeks to improve industrial relations, make recommendations for legislative amendments, worker policies and standards. Its work will commence in January 2022. It looks like the LAC will first make further amendments to the Employment Act. Certain expected changes: 1) advanced notification to government where 20+ employees are expected to be terminated; 2) definitions / constraints / conditions around layoff periods; 3) publication of employment standards - where all work permit holders made aware of their rights and obligations under the Act and who they may contact for assistance and 4) wage theft protections - which will ensure that employees are paid for all hours worked, that overtime is covered fully, tips to employees and ensuring that deductions are properly forwarded to Social Insurance, Health, & Payroll Tax.
The LAC will also provide guidance to industry / workers relevant to the status of the "independent contractor. The Ministry reports that it has received some complaints from workers / members of the public pertaining to unfair contractual terms and employment contracts that seem to take advantage of the current economic climate in Bermuda. The LAC will issue guidance for the purpose of determining whether an employment relationship more closely resembles that of an employee than an independent contractor. The Ministry has already floated an awareness campaign on FaceBook providing such guidance to employers and employees. Where the revisions to the Employment Act enacted in June 2021 requires that all employees / workers have some form of contract which outlines the responsibilities of both parties, we would encourage each employer to have in place an agreement signed off by both parties which outlines expectations and responsibilities. Call us if you assistance in drafting template agreements (available in Portuguese and Tagalog).