NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Labor Minister Dion Foulkes yesterday said the vast majority of Bahamians who had been laid-off have returned to work, with the exception of the tourism sector.
Foulkes was speaking at a Minster’s Report press conference and was unable to confirm the current employment rate.
However, he maintained thousands of Bahamians have returned to their jobs, with the exception of those in the tourism sector and those employed at several retail outlets on Bay Street.
“We understand the hardship and the stress both economically and from an emotional point of view,” he said.
“The government has put in significant effort to assist laid-off workers during this period. NIB and the Ministry of Finance have made available millions of dollars to ease the burden being caused by these lay-offs.”
Reforms to the Employment Act in 2017 mandate that once workers have been sent home for a 13-week period or 90-day period, an employer has to either to recall them to work or terminate them with full compensation as required by law.
Foulkes noted that the government has suspended those provisions pending the end of the Emergency Orders and 30 days thereafter.
“That was done to help a lot of businesses, small, medium, and large businesses that did not have the financial capacity to pay severance pay to all their employees,” said Foulkes.
“The government has to balance out all of the demands and all of the needs of the entire society.”
He added: “We are hopeful that the tourism sector will reopen and Atlantis has made an environment that they will start a partial opening in December. We hope Baha Mar will follow Atlantis and do the same along with the other hotels.”