Sources told Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) that the temporary lay-off period is in keeping with an email circular sent to employees by Oil Nut Bay Vice President Mr Daniel Reid at the beginning of April 2021.
In the original letter seen by Virgin Islands News Online (VINO), Reid told employees that the resort was looking forward to all staff having completed their first COVID-19 vaccination by April 30, 2021.
Employees were also reportedly threatened that repercussions will come should they not get vaccinated, “The company will not be able to carry the liability for employees who choose not to be vaccinated after this date,” the VP went on to say.
Effective May 1, 2021, the company is said to have adjusted its schedule for those who have not been vaccinated
When VINO contacted the resort, while some staff appeared shocked at the allegation of a layoff period, it was later confirmed that the company has started to temporarily send home employees in what it terms an effort to protect staff and guests from COVID-19.
While VP Mr Reid rejected calls from our newsroom, speaking on condition of anonymity, one resort worker told VINO that some guests have reportedly requested vaccinated workers only, as such, the company had ‘no choice’ than to do what is best, as it cannot run the risk of compromising the health and well-being of both guest and staff.
Section 135 of the VI Labour Code, 2010 states, among other things, that: (1) An employer at any workplace including a construction site shall ensure that, (a) a safe, sound, healthy and secure working environment is provided as far as is reasonably practicable; (b) the measures and procedures prescribed by the Code and the Regulations are carried out; (c) every supervisor and every employee performing work complies with the Code and the Regulations; (d) every reasonable precaution is taken in the circumstances for the protection of a worker; (e) reasonable precaution is taken in the circumstances to protect the general public who comes into contact with the work site…”
When contacted, Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) told VINO that while he received no reports of the lay-off, he said any such report would be sent directly to the Labour Department for handling ‘as they should be’.
Government has not made vaccination mandatory in the Virgin Islands; however, it has repeatedly said businesses and customers will be left to determine who benefits in the 'new normal' as the unvaccinated may be deemed a risk to health and business.
So far, only 2034 persons are fully vaccinated in the Virgin Islands while 10, 462 have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine available free of cost.