British Virgin Islands

Monday, Oct 25, 2021

Legitimate workers only! Too many expats working ‘off the grid’ in BVI

Legitimate workers only! Too many expats working ‘off the grid’ in BVI

Labour Minister Vincent Wheatley has said some employers have been issued with work permits for persons who have never been seen at the job sites where they were hired to work.

He gave this as a reason for the government’s new policy that requests employees, who seeking to renew their work permits, to produce a Certificate of Good Standing for their employer’s business.

He described the policy as a way to regularise and correct the current system.

“What we are trying to do here, is to make sure that the employees who are applying for permits have legitimate work,” Wheatley told the House of Assembly recently.

“Persons have been here for five or 10 years with no record of any earnings, absolutely none,” Minister Wheatley said. “But the employer is here now trying to renew your permit. Those are things we are trying to avoid.”

“We have discovered, there are several cases where persons are in the territory working ‘off the grid’, so to speak,” he added.

But with the new policy in place, the minister said Labour has been quite successful in making persons prove that they have been working.

He said if persons approach the Labour Department for a renewal or transfer of their work permit, he wants to first ensure that they have been doing legitimate work for a legitimate business all along.

Companies do what is inspected, not what is expected

According to the minister, the Inland Revenue Department no longer requires Certificates of Good Standing. Instead, receipts showing that an application was made for good standing will suffice.

However, employees seeking a permit renewal are still required to produce Certificates of Earnings from the Social Security Department and the National Health Insurance showing that they are legitimately employed.

“Companies and persons do what is inspected, not what is expected. We expect all companies to be in compliance and in good standing all the time,” Wheatley said.

He further explained that the aforesaid new policy has now forced companies to come into compliance with regulations that require them to have Certificates of Good Standing in order for their employees to have permits renewed.

Some employers refuse to give workers the good-standing certificates

The Labour Minister also explained that there are instances where employers refuse to provide their employees with good-standing certificates. But Wheatley said his ministry is working around the issue without trying to punish those employees for the delinquency of their employers.

“A certificate of good standing allows the Department of Labour and Workforce Development to know whether or not the employer is in compliance with making the mandated payments on behalf of the company which are prescribed by the government and for corrective measures to be instituted if they are not,” Wheatley said.

He added: “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.”


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