The Minister of Labour, Jason Hayward told members of the media on Tuesday that his Ministry has received “several reports from workers and members of the public about unfair contractual terms and employment contracts”.
In a statement released yesterday, the Minister advised local employers “against the use of precrious independent contractor work contracts”.
The terms of the contracts in question, he said, “seem to take advantage of the current economic climate in Bermuda” – a problem compounded by the challenges of finding suitable and sustainable employment.
He also noted that the Employment Act 2000 was amended on June 1, to address this long-standing issue.
“Following the amendments, the Manager of the Labour Relations Section can now issue guidance to determine whether an employment relationship more closely resembles that of an employee than an independent contractor.
“Workers and their representatives within various industries have voiced concern that many employers are offering employment contracts that do not cover the essential benefits, including health insurance, social insurance, and payroll tax.
“These contracts usually referred to as independent or consultant contracts, state that workers are responsible for their own benefits and make their pay rate to compensate for these statutory deductions nonnegotiable,” said Mr Hayward.
“Workers on these precarious contracts often have roles resembling a genuine employee rather than an independent contractor within an organisation. Independent or consultant contracts are generally used by persons who provide expert-level advice or specific skill sets.
“Employers should not use them to replace or impose unnecessary burdens on the typical everyday worker, forcing them to fall outside of the benefits and protections of the Bermuda Labour Code.
“The Bermuda Labour Code clearly outlines the various types of employment relationships within Bermuda, thus limiting the ability of employers to create subsets of workers that fall outside of the protections it provides,” he added.
“Should an employee have questions about their employment contract or feel forced to sign an agreement that does not accurately represent their employment relationship, I encourage you to contact the Labour Relations Section.
“Employers with questions about their current employment contracts or future hires should contact the Labour Relations Section for guidance and to ensure they comply with the Bermuda Labour Code.
“The Labour Relations Section is responsible for the conciliation and investigation of all employment and labour related disputes,” the Minister added.
“Also, understanding the sensitivity and discomfort of these matters, when contacting the Labour Relations Section to obtain information or file a report, the Bermuda Labour Code gives employers, workers, and the general public the option to remain anonymous. Individuals may also report employment violations at bit.ly/employerviolations.”
Located at 23 Parliament Street, Hamilton, in the old Magistrates’ Court building, the Labour Relations Section is open Monday to Friday from 8:45am to 5pm and can be contacted on 297-7716 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.