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Labour Ministry gets complaints about contracts being offered to security guards

By Kimone Witter 

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security says it has received several complaints from security guards in the last week about the issuance of one-year contracts by private companies ahead of April 1 when their employment status will change.

The ministry says some security guards have also made enquiries about the contracts and sought advice about the terms and conditions.

Gillian Corrodus, Divisional Director of Industrial Relations and Allied Services in the Labour Ministry, said after reviewing copies of the contracts, discussions have been held with some of the security companies to seek clarification.

Ms Corrodus said based on what was explained, the guards should not be at a disadvantage as the contracts are part of the change over process. 

"The thrust by many of the companies is to move away from the independent contracts to an employment contract, so we have seen where the companies have issued to them new contracts but also some companies have issued to them a form terminating that independent contract arrangement. So that is a little bit different and many of the guards were not too au fait with what was the implication of that, so we have explained that to many of the guards," she told Radio Jamaica News.  

Ms Corrodus said the security companies have committed to providing clarification in writing to their guards and sending copies to the ministry.

She said details on wage and fringe benefits should be included in the contracts being offered to the security guards. 

"The contracts that are being issued, I would expect will give them certain basic rights of an employee. All guards should receive contracts that guarantee them holidays with pay, guarantees maturnity leave, guarantees notice, guarantees that their statutory payments will be made in accordance with the relevant legislations, whether it be NIS, NHT, and the guards should ensure that their contracts have some defined time, whether it's a one-year contract or it's an infinite contract," she explained.  

Ms Corrodus also addressed the concern that some security companies have indicated in the contracts that the guards will be subjected to a probationary period. 

She said the ministry raised the concern with the companies and was told that this probationary period would only apply to new entrants and "is just an informality for those who had a previous type of engagement with them".