Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo

Workplaces are working assiduously to meet the stipulated June 15 deadline to have their sexual harassment policies in place.

This was disclosed by Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, as she addressed the final Labour Management Relations Seminar at the Warrens Office Complex, recently.

The Minister told the audience that the Employment Sexual Harassment (Prevention) Act 2017 made provision for the protection of all employees – male and female – from sexual harassment in the workplace.

It also provided, she noted, a framework for dealing with sexual harassment complaints in the workplace and for appropriate responses and remedies in the event that sexual harassment is found to have occurred.

The Senator added: “This very active period in labour legislation demonstrates the Government’s commitment to making the labour law and labour administration responsive to the changing economic and social realities, both for employees and for employers. These changes and adjustments have sought to promote equity in employment; protect the more vulnerable in the system; promote sound employment and labour relations; and strengthen the capacity of the Chief Labour Officer to ensure all of these.”

Dr. Byer Suckoo pointed out that the process was not yet complete as there “remain areas of labour legislation yet to be addressed”. In this regard, she cited the Protection of Wages Act, Adjustments to the Public Holidays Act and the Trade Union Recognition Act as examples that immediately came to mind. She also mentioned that the Employment (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill was at an advanced stage and should soon be ready for the Cabinet.

“In all of this, however, it is recognised that changing legislation alone will not be the ‘silver bullet’ in addressing issues in the workplace.  Partnerships, cooperation and dialogue remain central.  Workplaces must also be committed to self-regulation.

“It is through these principles of social dialogue and consensus-building, that the Decent Work Agenda, as promoted by the International Labour Organization, and fully endorsed and advanced by Barbados, will be realised,” she affirmed.

The Minister lauded the Labour Department for hosting the seminars and expressed the hope that employment relations in Barbados would be the lasting beneficiary.

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