Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy. *Photo supplied
Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy. *Photo supplied

Many people who were were terminated or made redundant in 2012, didn’t take it lying down.

A total of 158 complaints were filed with regard to Employment Act to those two areas. 

Overall, there were 565 labour dispute cases in 2012 compared with 519 in 2011. 

The Department of Workforce Development will be holding a series of seminars aimed at increasing the awareness of the Employment Act 2000 to help lessen those numbers..

 Starting on June 6, a team of Labour Relations Officers will host forums with such organizations as the Bermuda Employer’s Council, the Chamber of Commerce and others to educate their members on the Act.

As many as five seminars will be held before the end of 2013. 

 Some of the topics to be discussed include the explanation of the process; good labour relations in general; and ensuring and promoting the fair treatment of both employers and employees.

 The Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy said the Department is showing this level of proactivity based on an analysis of recent data.

 Minister Fahy said in a press release: “Our overall goal with this outreach to assist employers in better understanding their rights, their employees’ rights and their obligations under the law. 

“We believe that communication is key in the workplace, and knowing how the Act works will help in fostering better working environments for both staff and management. We also feel it will help to reduce the number of labour complaints reported to the Labour Relations Section.”

 In 2012 266 complaints (non-unionized) were filed pursuant to the Employment Act 2000 and 64  grievances (unionized) filed pursuant to the Trade Union Act 1965, the Labour Relations Act 1975 and/or the Labour Disputes Act 1992.

 Complaints filed pursuant to the Employment Act 2000 related to terminations (120), redundancies (38) and vacation pay (25). 

 Out of these matters, 17 were sent to the Employment Tribunal in 2012; 8 cases were sent to arbitration and 48 companies required mediation with union representatives. 

 Further, seven organizations gained union recognition and one was decertified.

 Out of the 17 cases sent to the Employment Tribunal — 10 cases were settled in favour of the complainants, five in favour of the respondents and two were settled by the parties without going to the tribunal panel.

 The majority of the cases (11) involved terminations and the others covered disputes such as, constructive or wrongful dismissals, vacation pay and severance allowances.

 There were 235 recorded consultations with individuals and employers.  Consultations referred to advice and guidance given to both individuals and employers that can range from phone calls to short term meetings, which could last a couple of hours.

 As of January 30, 2013, there were 109 active/open cases with the Labour Relations Section of the Department of Labour and Training.

 Most of these cases (103) were initially reported in either 2012 or in 2013.  Two of the remaining six were reported to the Department in 2010 and the remaining four were reported in 2011. During 2012, 156 cases were closed.

 The Minister said: “What these statistics indicate is that there is considerable activity in the workplace regarding labour matters, conflicts and resolutions. There was a dramatic increase in the number of consultations from 95 in 2011 to 235 in 2012. So we think it is very timely for our team to go out and have these conversations with businesses about the importance of the Employment Act and their rights which fall under them.”