Gov’t to protect casual worker on NIB rate rise

webnexttech | Gov’t to protect casual worker on NIB rate rise

By FAY SIMMONS Tribune Business Reporter [email protected] A CABINET minister yesterday said the Government is seeking to prevent casual and part- time workers from being “disenfranchised” through the upcoming National Insurance Board (NIB) rate increase.Pia Glover-Rolle, minister of labour and the public service, said the Davis administration was keenly aware that some employers may respond to the increased contribution rate and higher labour costs by making more staff part-time workers.
Reiterating that Bahamian companies were given more than adequate warning from last year to prepare for the rate hike, which is due to take effect mid-year 2024, she said: “We know that for years actuaries have said that our National Insurance rate would have to increase.
“Our administration did give notice of this increase a year ago as an opportunity for businesses to prepare, for employers to prepare for what will be we anticipate a very small increase, but an increase nonetheless.
But this will speak to how employers from a labour perspective, shape their workforce.
“We are already looking at legislative amendments that can speak to how we capture our employees.
In Grand Bahama, the Prime Minister spoke about casual labourers.
We are investigating and analysing that level of workers.” Mrs Glover-Rolle said the Department of Labour will ensure, from a legal and legislative perspective that employees are not “disenfranchised” by how their employers respond to the NIB rate increase.
She added: “We see businesses have said that they are probably opting to go to more part-time workers.
We are going to do all we can from the Department of Labour perspective, from a legal and legislative perspective, to ensure that workers are not disenfranchised no matter what happens.
That’s a priority for us at the Department of Labour.” Kimsley Ferguson, president of the Bahamas Public Service Union, said it is concerned with how the NIB rate increase will impact minimum wage employees who recently received a pay increase.
He added that it will affect workers as the cost of living is “leaving salaries behind by leaps and bounds”.
The BPSU chief said: “There is indeed a concern regarding the NIB hike in that a minimal increase has been given.
While we applaud the Government for the increase in mini- mum wage, the very same increase that has been given people now must tap into and pay contributions towards the NIB.
“We are of the view, when you divide that increase by 30 days, it may come out about $1-something, which is deplorable.
It doesn’t assist our members in combating the cost of living, which is leaving salaries behind by leaps and bounds.” Mr Ferguson added that there should have been more consultation with the public prior to implementing the NIB rate increase, and that the Government should give consideration to persons on the lower end of the pay scale.
He said: “And so we are concerned, and we believe, that there should even be consultation before the implementation of the hike so that some futuristic consideration could be given to bringing relief to persons at the lower end of the scale.
“So that is really our concern in that the salary increases that were given were actually a variation.
The person at the lower end, whose incremental value was much smaller than those at the middle and the individuals at the top, would feel the brunt of this.
“And so if we say that we want to bring relief, we can’t be duplicitous about what we’re doing, what we’re saying by implementing something that is going to have a more profound impact on one category of persons as opposed to the other.”

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