Jennifer Baptiste-Primus

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The long-awaited pandemic leave announced by Minister of Labour Jennifer Baptiste-Primus almost a month ago is still in the works. This is according to Baptiste-Primus, who indicated the committee responsible would be meeting tomorrow before sending it, once again, before Cabinet later this week.

In a brief telephone interview with Guardian Media on the status of the leave, Baptiste-Primus said: “The Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GP) did meet last Tuesday and addressed it and it went back to Cabinet. Cabinet made a request for additional information so it’s back before the F&GP and we would be meeting tomorrow at one o’clock and we would address it.”

The Oil Field Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) previously condemned Cabinet over the delay in approving the leave which the union’s chief education and Research Officer Ozzi Warwick told Guardian Media in a previous interview, was needed to protect workers and public servants.

“During this lockdown, which is becoming more intensified, what we have found is that employers are trying to get workers to use their entitlements for this period and that is not right,” Warwick said.

Pandemic Leave is a new classification of paid leave in light of the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on business operations. It is different from sick leave and is meant to accommodate leave for employees who do not have sick leave eligibility as part of the agreed terms of their employment. The leave applies to workers classified as short-term employees, and temporary workers who only have sick leave, but no provision for extended sick leave.