New labour laws coming to St Kitts and Nevis

BASSETERRE, St Kitts and Nevis, Thursday, April 26, 2012 – The right to equal pay is on the agenda for discussion in today’s sitting of the St Kitts and Nevis National Assembly.

Ahead of today’s sitting Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett, led his cabinet colleagues on April 23, in a detailed discussion on the Equal Pay Bill, 2012, which he explained had become necessary in pursuit of the government’s agenda to promote equality in the workplace.

Specifically, the new legislation seeks to outlaw discrimination in the workplace on the basis of the sex of an employee in paid employment, which would also align St Kitts and Nevis’s labour laws with the norms and ideals of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs concluded that while a number of pieces of Labour-related legislation had been part of the body of laws of the Federation for many years going back as far as the colonial days, there was now a need to revise or repeal a number of these laws to conform to international standards, and he further advised that the relevant stakeholder consultation had been held to ensure that an appropriate and acceptable legislative framework was developed.

Other changes to labour practices coming to the world of work in the St Kitts and Nevis is the development of a new Labour Code for the federation.

Speaking at the same Monday briefing, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration and Labour, Sam Condor, informed cabinet that he had earlier sought the intervention of the Director of the Caribbean Office of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the identification and dispatching of a legal consultant with the appropriate skillset and experience to assist St. Kitts and Nevis in the review of its Labour Code.

Condor informed the Cabinet that he had charged the consultant Clive Pegus, with the examination of the current Labour Code to identify gaps when viewed against international standards, a task he undertook by way of consultation over a three-week period with a number of local stakeholders.

The consultant has recommended significant reforms be made to the Labour Code. Among the changes called for were the need to establish an independent tribunal for the settlement of labour disputes; the reform of the severance fund to improve its sustainability, transparency and efficiency; hours of work and related entitlement; holiday pay: how its ought to be identified and calculated; uncertified sick leave, and termination of employment.

Cabinet approved the appointment of a broad-based committee consisting of representatives from the government and civil society to review the consultant’s recommendations and to put forward final proposals for enactment of a new Labour Code. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)