British Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Aug 11, 2020

'Laid-off' expatriates can stay in VI up to 6 months- Hon Wheatley

Only terminated workers being asked to leave Territory if unable to find alternative employment

Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) said only terminated expatriate workers are being asked to leave the Territory at this time; however, those who are laid-off will fall in an entirely different category, subject to different labour policies.

"Some folks are laid off, but not terminated... but if you are terminated, that category specifically... and can't find another job to be gainfully employed at this time, we are asking you simply to consider going home or to go home," Hon Wheatley said.


COVID-19 & work permits

The Minister was at the time speaking as a guest on the July 14, 2020, edition of the 'Honestly Speaking' radio show alongside moderator Claude O. Skelton-Cline when he underscored that 'laid-off' does not necessarily mean a person is terminated from the job.

"Some employers have employees that they really really want to keep, because they have historical knowledge, institutional knowledge, but they simply can't afford to pay them now."

According to Hon Wheatley, those persons can be placed under the laid-off category, with the opportunity to get re-hired in 6 months.

"They want them around so when things pick up, I can bring this expert... to work for me."

He said for the companies with 'laid off' workers, they have up to 6 months to pay severance.


6 months hold on severance pay

During that time, the employee would be under 'laid off' status and could seek alternative employment elsewhere, on condition that the Labour and Immigration departments are notified as well as employees agreeing to the terms.

Hon Wheatley explained that normally, while persons would not be allowed to work at another company under the original work permit, he said with the 6-month reserved severance, it would give their original employer 6 months to re-hire the individual, and if not, only then severance is paid.

As part of announcements at the House of Assembly sitting on Friday, July 10, 2020, Hon Wheatley said some terminated foreign workers will be able to stay in the Territory up to three months to find another job through a Conditional Work Permit.

He noted that work permits; however, will only be granted to individuals and companies that have up to date payments with National Health Insurance and the Social Security Board.

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