Govt to tweak tribunal
GOVERNMENT IS committed to resolve the administrative issues that affect the smooth functioning of the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT) and to eliminate the backlog of cases which has been a source of frustration for some members of the public.
Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer Suckoo gave this assurance while noting the tribunal had identified some weaknesses. As a result, meetings were held internally and with the unions and employers to identify some of the challenges and their possible solutions.
“I do admit that there have been challenges and there is a backlog. We have been working with limited resources but I think that we have now been able to identify how we can best use the resources that we have. When I meet with the chairpersons in the next two weeks, I believe we will be able to put those new mechanisms in place,” she said.
The Labour Minister also alluded to a minor amendment to the legislation as a means of reducing some of the burden on the ERT – a measure which already had the buy-in from the employers and the unions. She also disclosed that consultations were held on a number of suggested amendments for better administration of the act.
Pointing out that consultations were held on the Employment Rights Act for close to two decades before its passage, she commended those involved in the discussions that “came with an understanding about what we were trying to do and the spirit behind the act.
“Most of what is in the act was already in practice and some already in our protocol of the Social Partnership. The Employment Rights Act was in draft for close to two decades with intense consultations. The parties understood and agreed to what the act was attempting to do. However, since the enactment in 2012, employers, workers and attorneys are interpreting this legislation in a way that we had not before envisaged.
“We have seen some very interesting interpretations of the legislation and it has made for scenarios that none of the parties imagined in the 20 years that it was being drafted. This is not unique to this act, however, [but] now we are looking at specific areas in the legislation to see how we can address the scenarios that are now arising out of the Employment Rights Act,” Senator Byer Suckoo said.
She said the act was not meant to place any undue hardship on employers but was meant to protect workers and to ensure that there are fair structures in place for employers to deal with challenges they have with their workers. (JS/BGIS)