Chamber calls for extension of unemployment benefits

Chamber calls for extension of unemployment benefits

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Chamber of Commerce’s labour specialist said yesterday the recommendations have been sent to government to extend unemployment benefits to 26 weeks to prevent companies from having to terminate workers.

Peter Goudie, also the deputy chairman of the National Tripartite Council told Eyewitness News, “hotels are in deep trouble”.

He added that it simply “makes no sense” to make workers redundant when there are no jobs to apply for.

“The hotels are in deep trouble, deeper than businesses because some businesses are starting to come on line,” Goudie said.

“We know that the hotel situation is not going to change in the very near future. Recommendations have been made to government by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, the Bahamas Hotel Employers Association and the National Tripartite Council to extend that benefit just like it was done after Hurricane Dorian. We have not heard anything from government yet but I understand that it is under active consideration.”

Goudie added: “It is our view that it makes no sense to make people redundant when there are no jobs to apply for. The recommendations are there for the government. Things are going to get tough but they have to do what they have to do.”

Employment Act reforms enacted under the Christie administration stipulate that after 12-13 weeks companies must provide termination pay to employees who may have been laid-off or sent home.

Thousands of Bahamian workers have temporarily furloughed by their respective employers in response to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis warned during an address on Sunday that country’s unemployment is expected to climb to more than 30 percent as he called on Bahamians to brace for an unprecedented economic reality.

Based on applications to the National Insurance Board (NIB), Minnis said more than 25,000 people have been laid off or  have lost their income to date – a figure he noted will likely increase.