St.Kitts-Nevis Government has spent over $25 million on COVID-19 Related severance payments

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BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, April 14, 2021 (MMS-SKN) — Processing of severance payments continues apace and according to Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, the number of staff at the Department of Labour has been increased and another shift has been added to allow for more claims to be paid in a more efficient timeframe.

Prime Minister Harris, who was responding to a caller on the popular Leadership Matters Programme on ZIZ Television on Tuesday April 13, pointed out that it has taken quite a bit of time on account of the sheer volume of displaced persons, and also on account of the fact that several of the employers had not paid up, which made it problematic for the Department of Labour to do justice to the claims.

“We have so far spent over $25 million on severance payments and the Fund basically, we have said repeatedly, has been depleted,” said Dr Harris. “It means that the majority of those recourses are coming from the Federal Government coffers.”

The Government is concerned and he observed that he would have raised the issue on the Leadership Matters Programme before where he would have indicated that at the Cabinet level, a decision had been undertaken to increase the number of staff members working at the Department of Labour and to add another shift so that more claims can processed in a more efficient timeframe.

“So all those things are happening and should be happening and in due course persons will get their due,” said Dr Harris.

While apologising to the affected workers for the delay, Prime Minister Harris advised that the delay has not been only at the level of the Department of Labour but has also been due to the negligence in some part of a number of employers who had not done right for their employees.

He urged every employee to be going to the Social Security at regular intervals and get printout of the contributions and payments made as that would allow them to know well in advance whether or not their employer is paying their contributions, and the portion deducted from their (employees’) wages.

“When then the difficulties are only discovered at the point when you are severed, of course some time will be lost,” noted Dr Harris. “But you can be proactive about it.”

He informed that at the Cabinet level they have asked that at regular intervals the Social Security should make the printouts available to every employee, to not wait until there is the ultimate event such as the severance being triggered for persons to then find out that their employers had not been paying to Social Security.

The Honourable Prime Minister stated that the Government is on a policy of expediting of claims, which also includes some persons who had not been appropriately documented, meaning they were working while not holders of work permits stamp, or they have had difficulties in getting regularised because they do not have the requisite police records.

“There have been other cases where persons, although they had been working and although they had some payments made, they were in fact not properly documented and those issues had to be addressed at the level of National Security,” said the Honourable Prime Minister.

According to Prime Minister Harris, Commissioner of Police Mr Hilroy Brandy “has introduced a policy of leniency when that information comes to him so that the person can get their status rectified and that also helps with the processing. All these things are happening simultaneously.”

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