July 14, 2021
Chairman of the National Tripartite Council (NTC) Robert Farquharson said yesterday that the law couldn’t be more clear on the matter of employers requiring employees to pay for their own COVID-19 tests instead of getting vaccinated.
In recent months since the rollout of vaccines in The Bahamas, various employers have mandated that employees either get vaccinated or pay for a rapid antigen test every week to show proof that they do not have COVID-19.
Pointing to section nine of the Health and Safety at Work Act, Farquharson said employers do not familiarize themselves with the law and as a result the Department of Labour has had to intervene on many of these instances.
“The law is clear on that, section nine particularly. If you look at section nine of the Health and Safety at work Act, there is no question there is a clear position. Section nine makes it specific, in fact it prohibits an employer. Section nine states that ‘no employer shall levy or permit to be levied on any employee of his, any charge in respect of anything done or provided in pursuance of any of the provisions of this act’. So the law is specific to the employer. You cannot have an employee pay for these things,” he said in an interview with Guardian Business.
“I think in most cases employers are not familiar with the law. Employers are not familiar with the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act. So once the matter is brought to the attention of the officials in the Department of Labour and the Ministry of Labour, we try to guide them towards what it says and to seek advice from their legal advisors, because the law couldn’t be more clear.”
Farquharson said while a number of complaints have been filed, instead of pushing the matters through to the courts or Industrial Tribunal, the labor authorities have sought to have the employers resolve the issues internally after consultation.
“The Department of Labour has received a number of complaints where employers are trying to force employees to pay for these tests and that’s prohibited. We are trying to advise employers, we point out to them what the law says and in most if not all of the cases, the employers have refrained from having employees pay for these tests,” he said.
“Now I suspect that there will still be some employers who will try to force their employees to take the test and if that is done, I can assure you that that matter will be before the tribunal or before the courts. Section nine of the Health and Safety at Work Act is specific to that, it prohibits an employer from having an employee be charged for that.”
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