Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus says complaints by people who either lost or are receiving a reduced income that their employer is refusing to fill out social relief forms will be investigated and appropriate action taken.
This comes in the wake of several complaints by members of the public that employers have been refusing to sign the relevant sections in the various social grant forms.
Many of them, however, are reluctant to make an official complaint because they are afraid that when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted they will lose their jobs.
When contacted via Whatsapp, Baptiste-Primus stated, “I am very concerned that such unscrupulous employers are refusing to sign their employees or former employees Salary Relief Grant Forms.”
Noting that the government had called on employers to be reasonable, compassionate, and flexible in treating with their employees, she said, “These employers have a moral responsibility to treat their employees in a fair manner by signing the said forms once they have terminated their employment or reduced their wages or salaries.”
She believed that the employers’ refusal has to do with them not paying NIS contributions and fearful of the consequences. She advised employees to attach copies of the termination letters and/or their last payslip and indicate that the employers refused to sign the forms.
“They can also file a complaint with the Ministry’s Labour Inspectorate Division at 299-0300, which will be investigated and appropriate action taken as provided for in the law,” the minister advised.
She said applicants can also get someone to vouch that they were employed at a particular company or organization.
Barrackpore West councillor Nicholas Khanhai who has been helping people obtain and fill out the forms said many of them did not have the mandatory documents, including payslips, while others never paid NIS contributions.
Indicating that 20 of the 30 people with SRG forms could not get their employer to fill out the necessary section, he said, “I am putting in the basic information for the company and I am stating on the forms that the employer refused to complete this application,” he said.
A single mother in Debe who worked in a restaurant but her boss doesn’t want to fill out the form said she could not find a suitable recommender who according to the guidelines must be in certain professions.
“I don’t even have money to go and travel anywhere to ask anybody to help me,” she said. Another woman said she went to the Penal Police Station to get a form, but they had no more forms.
“I don’t have no computer or nothing so I can’t do it online. I just don’t know what to do,” she said.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert at the press conference on Thursday stated that over 38,000 persons have already applied for the Salary Relief Grant.