British Virgin Islands

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Thursday, Apr 09, 2020

Public officers entitled to ‘pandemic leave’ to care for children

Public officers entitled to ‘pandemic leave’ to care for children

Director of the Human Resources in the public service Michelle Donovan-Stevens is advising that select public officers are entitled to claim ‘pandemic leave’ to care for their children.
Donovan-Stevens made the remark via social media on Thursday while addressing various concerns from government employees. These concerns stem from the closure of schools due to the Novel Coronavirus.

She said: “It is heavy on everybody’s heart because our children are often our priority and closest to us … So we have recognized for our officers who may not have alternatives, who may not have trusted provisions, who have children under the age of 18, and they are in their care, or they are their legal guardians as well, and they have not been able to source care for those children; they have a right based on the cabinet’s decision to take leave.”

However, Donovan-Stevens said public officers must exhaust all other options before considering pandemic leave.

“Where they are not available, we will recognize this as leave authorized that will not be charged against their annual leave and it will be classified as well as pandemic leave due to school closures,” the Human Resources boss said.

She continued: “We do have the continuity of the public service to bear in mind that persons can look for responsible options to safeguard their families while also being at work.”

She further said there are other options such as working part-time, working flexible hours, or remotely.

In the meantime, Deputy Governor David Archer Jr said the pandemic leave would not mean a vacation.

He explained: “The one caveat that we have to be very, very clear on is our objectives are to allow those persons [to still] work and contribute. So we have to work on remote access for them, so it is not a situation where we are saying if you are in this situation, you can go home and just hang out.”

“We will provide you with the right opportunities that you can work and maybe on a daily basis a messenger might give you a file or two; you might not work a full eight hours, it might be six. So yes you will not be penalized if you are in that situation, but the expectation is you have to fall in line with the remote working policy along those lines,” he added.
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