Amid widespread pleas from entrepreneurs across the territory, the government has added another three months to the lay-off period.
This means employers now have until January 31, 2021 to deliver severance packages to staff they’ve laid off.
The lay-off period describes the time that can elapse before an employer must pay severance to any employee who has been laid off.
Back in June, Cabinet decided to further extend the layoff period to October 31, as many businesses didn’t have the funds to pay severance packages. However, many entrepreneurs have pleaded for another extension, saying the tourism industry needs to be reopened in order for them to receive cash injection into their operations.
In response to these pleas, Labour Minister Vincent Wheatley said: “With the current pandemic in mind and the harsh realities being faced by both employees and employers, I have recommended and received the approval of Cabinet to extend the previously established lay-off period from 31st October, 2020 to 31st January, 2021.”
Minister Wheatley said the decision to further extend the lay-off period was hard to make, as he is mindful of the woes of workers who desire to remain under the same employer and BVI businesses who may not prefer or cannot afford to release and rehire workers.
“With this in mind, I would like to again remind employers to be considerate to their employees by notifying them of any changes to their employment agreement, and gaining their agreement to the changes, prior to contacting the Department of Labour & Workforce Development,” Wheatley said a recent statement on the matter.
He also reminded employees “to speak with employers about matters related to their continued lay-off status, where applicable, prior to visiting the Department of Labour & Workforce Development.”
Just last week, the BVI Chamber of Commerce & Hotel Association said some businesses will likely go bankrupt if they have to pay severance to workers who are currently laid off.