Private sector workers may have to depend on the goodwill or generousity of their employers if they are to get paid for the “no-work day” advised by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit last week in the face of a threat by Tropical Storm Isaac.
This is because the “no-work day” was not a public holiday which can only be proclaimed by the President of Dominica.
“Legislation and practice in Dominica restrict payment of wages to days when work is done, when statute provides for absences and when absences are authorized, in advance or afterwards, by the employer,” Executive Director of the Dominica Employer Federation, Achille Chris, Joseph said. “In the case of the storm threat to our nation, the Prime Minister advised (not declared or promulgated or proclaimed) that employees remain home to secure their person and property.”
According to Joseph the “no-work day” by the Prime Minister was not a public holiday, which only the President of Dominica can proclaim, and “therefore employees do not have the legitimate claim to receive wages.”
However he was quick to point out that it does not mean workers who remained home will not receive wages. “It means that this is best left to the employer or the employee to agree,” he said.
He noted there is a need for a private sector regime or understanding on “no-work days” which are not public holidays in Dominica. “We can’t go back and forth every time a “no-work day” is called for safety reasons. We need to agree that workers be paid, not paid or partially paid,” Joseph pointed out.
Joseph said the matter will certainly be a topic for discussion at the upcoming Annual General Meeting of the DEF.