The COVID-19 pandemic has landed in Guyana with fatal consequences. There are 5 reported confirmed cases including one death. So far, the virus appears to be incubating. I’m hoping that it does not exhale with devastating and deadly effects like it did in China, Italy, Iran, Spain, the United States of America and other countries.
Since the untimely and uninvited arrival of the coronavirus in Guyana, there has been a multiplicity of reactions by the government, the private sector, numerous other groups and individuals. As a result, several economic, social, health, financial and other major issues have emerged.
I will be unable to elaborate on all the issues due to the constraint of space. However, I note that according to reports in the media, numerous employers have already started to lay off their workers and others are planning to do the same as they try to develop strategies and tactics to remain viable.
Reports indicated that one employer sent home some of his workers for 6 months, while others have laid off their employees for diverse periods. No stimulus package or income replacement plan has emerged.
As activities unfold, the possibility of employers trampling on workers’ rights may be occasioned. The Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act Chapter 99:08 will come into play. It gives clear guidelines in relation to the layoff of workers. Section 14 (2) of the Act states, “No layoff under Section (1) shall exceed six weeks”.
The protocol is that at the end of the six weeks, the employer will have to re-employ the workers or terminate their services with full severance pay. The principle is that you cannot ask an unwilling employer to employ a willing employee, but the employee is entitled to his full benefits.
As it relates to termination of employment, Section 12 (2) of the Act is very instructive. It states, “The employee is redundant under subsection (1) where in relation to his employer’s business where he is employed, his termination of employment is or is part of a reduction in the work force that is a direct result of –
(a) the modernisation, automation or mechanisation by the employer of all or part of the business.
(b) the discontinuation by the employer to carry out all or part of the business.
(c) the sale and the disposition by the employer of all or part of the business.
(d) the reorganisation of the business by the employer to improve efficiency.
(e) the impossibility or impracticability for the employer to carry in the business at its usual rate or level or all due to-
(1) a shortage of materials;
(2) a mechanical breakdown;
(3) a force majeure; or
(4) an act of God;
(f) a reduced operation in the employer’s business made necessary by economic conditions, including a lack of or changing markets, contraction in the volume of work or sales, reduced demands or surplus inventory.
My information is that some employers in order to lay off their employees are seeking shelter under Section 13 (2) (e) 4- an act of God.
Perhaps, history will repeat itself. I can vividly recall several years ago during heavy rain, a large number of utility poles fell. The Government Minister at the time with the responsibility for the utility company, Guyana Power and Light, boldly remarked that the falling of the poles was, “an act of God.”
There is no known cure for this deadly disease. It defies any one-shot solution to flatten its destructive curve. We are living in an unprecedented time. Unprecedented time requires unprecedented actions. Desperate time needs desperate actions. We are all in it together. Let us all be safe.
Wherever practicable, we must make use of our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), employ other approved protective measures, and follow the medical and other advice given. When one’s house is burning, we should not worry about the cost of water being used to put out the fire. Let us all pray for divine intervention to restore the present frightening state of affairs in Guyana to normalcy. May God bless our beloved Guyana.
Assistant Commissioner of Police
Apr 05, 2020This year-one review is based on the 10 Point ‘Cricket First Plan’ that was the foundation of the Ricky Skerritt-Dr Kishore Shallow 2019 election campaign. In March 2019, he was elected as the...
Apr 05, 2020
Apr 05, 2020
Apr 04, 2020
Apr 04, 2020
Apr 03, 2020
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]