The Minister said, while there were positives realized due to the policy, that was one of the downsides.
“We made it so that persons had to get their good standing [certificate] before they work and for the most part we were very successful collecting a lot of outside money that persons owed, but unintentionally we created a bunch of illegal workers at the same time!” the Minister revealed during Sitting of the House of Assembly on August 26.
He continued: “And, that was not the intention! Because persons who can’t get their good standing, they don’t stay home and sit down and say “Well I am not going to work” they show up to work still, but they don’t have the document which means you are working illegally because you don’t have your good standing to give you the work permit that you need. So the unintended consequence there was that policy actually created criminals or lawbreakers, but that wasn’t the intention.”
The Minister said this policy is one that has to be revised going forward because “we cannot create situations that create criminals or non-law abiding citizens.”
At a recent sitting of the House of Assembly, member of the Opposition and Third District Representative Hon. Julian Fraser described the payment for obtaining Good Standing Certificates as another tax to the employer and employee.
Minister Wheatley had informed that the Certificate of Good Standing allows the Department of Labour and Workforce Development to know whether or not the employer is in compliance with submitting the mandated payments on behalf of the company, which are prescribed from government and for corrective measures to be instituted if they are not.
“Unfortunately, this information cannot be recorded from an employee’s certificate of earnings which outlines the contributions paid into the system on behalf of the employee. No instructions were given to any of the three agencies regarding the new policy, however Mr. Speaker, the agencies were all given about one year’s notice before the policy became effective,” he said in response to questions from Hon. Fraser on the matter.
He further informed that the issuing of certificates is not new and is done on a regular basis.
Minister Wheatley said the cost remains the same: to obtain documents from Inland Revenue Department, the employer has to pay $50, and the employee $25. For Social Security, the employer has to pay $20, and the employee has to pay $20. For the National Health Insurance (NHI), the employee and employer both pay $20.
“If I go to a government agency and I make a payment for whatever debt it is I’m settling, that agency is supposed to give me a receipt indicating I have paid my debt and what my debt was. If that is so, why isn’t that sufficient for me to take [it] to another government agency for me to indicate that my debt has been settled and what my debt was,” Hon. Fraser countered at the time.
Hon. Fraser continued: “What’s this $50 that I have to pay for Good Standing Certificate to give the government to prove that I have paid the same government whatever my debt was to the government. If you get the point I am trying to make, Mr. Speaker, this is essentially, it’s a tax, and it is an unnecessary tax. It is convenient for the government, but it is unnecessary for the employers. In the scheme of things, someone might say, “oh, that’s no big deal”, but the same thing applies to the employee.”
The Third District Representative said while he understands and supports the objective of the government, it “should not be onerous and inconvenient and expensive.”