Cabinet to consider pandemic leave plan

Jennifer Baptiste-Primus -
Jennifer Baptiste-Primus -

LABOUR Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus said Cabinet will consider recommendations for pandemic leave to be granted to workers as the country deals with the covid19 pandemic.

She made this disclosure in the Senate on Tuesday in response to a question from Opposition Senator Wade Mark.

Baptiste-Primus said she partially chaired a virtual meeting between the National Triparite Advisory Council (NTAC) with private-sector representatives before coming to the Senate. She explained that recommendations for pandemic leave will be put before Cabinet.

"So that I am not at this point in time in a position to say what will be implemented in the private sector," Baptiste-Primus said. She added that Cabinet will deliberate on it and the information could be brought to the Senate subsequently.

When Mark asked how soon the recommendations would be sent to Cabinet, Baptiste-Primus replied, "Tomorrow (Wednesday)." Cabinet is scheduled to hold its regular weekly meeting on Thursday.

Amcham CEO Nirad Tewarie, who participated in the virtual meeting with NTAC, said "We had a good and productive meeting and look forward to seeing the many points on which agreement were reached reflected in the guidelines that will go to Cabinet.'

Tewarie added, "The Government made it clear that these are guidelines, and we support this approach."

At a news conference on March 15, Baptiste-Primus said workers who do not get sick leave, and workers who may have used up their sick leave before the outbreak of covid19, will be able to access pandemic leave.

Baptiste-Primus said the guidelines listed in a draft policy are intended to mitigate the logistical inconveniences coming out of the Prime Minister’s announcement to close schools and universities. She said the special-leave arrangements would apply to public officers, whether permanent, temporary, monthly-paid or daily-rated, fixed-term contract employees, short-term contract employees, on-the-job trainees and officers who fall under the purview of the Salaries Review Commission.

Going through the guidelines, she said children should not be allowed at workplaces, facilities and in company vehicles. She also encouraged workers who are not sick not to miss work. In homes with two parents, it was suggested that one parent stay at home with the children while the other goes to work.

In a statement on March 15, the Joint Chambers supported the measures the minister proposed. They commended her and the Government for “taking proactive steps to address this unprecedented threat to the people of TT.”

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"Cabinet to consider pandemic leave plan"

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