National Shutdowns and Workplace Rights

Today’s Barbados Advocate editorial attacks the issue of the rights of the employee AND employer during a national shutdown – Barbados Underground

The shutdown order issued by the DEM was ignored by several companies including Minister Denis Kellman at Moontown.

One of the more contentious issues raised during Wednesday’s national shutdown, owed mostly to the weather system traversing the region, was the legality of the actions of some employers who nevertheless decided to open their places of business and consequently to require the attendance at the workplace of employees. The procedures for business operation during a national shutdown are supposedly captured in the policy enunciated by the local Department of Emergency Management- but the circumstance of a national shutdown also raises a number of intriguing legal issues for employees that are not all answered by enacted legislation and that, as many of the rights and duties of the parties to the employment relationship, depend for their resolution on a combination of the provisions of the employment contract, of any applicable collective agreement and general principles of the common law.

Among the numerous questions that are likely to arise in such a scenario are whether an employee is entitled to leave from work to care for a young child who is at home because schools are closed; whether the employee is entitled to prioritize national service in assisting with emergency services over his or her employment duties; whether the employee is entitled to be paid wages even though he or she finds it impossible to attend work because of blocked roads or unavailable transportation or to work at all because the workplace is not in a fit state; and whether the employer is obligated to pay wages to its workers because there is no business owing to the effects of the weather conditions and the consequent national shutdown.

Leave entitlements will of course depend on the terms of the arrangements between the parties as to when and how and for what purposes such leave may be taken, whether expressed in the contract or incorporated therein by means of a provision in a collective agreement between the employer and the worker’s representative. It should be noted in this connection that the Employment Rights Act 2012 classifies as unfair the dismissal of an employee for the reason “that the employee was absent from work as a result of the performance of a “national duty”. According to section 30 (2)(d) of the Act, this includes “participation by the employee in a voluntary emergency management activity in certain stipulated circumstances.

The entitlement to wages is essentially premised on the readiness and willingness of the employee to work, so that once this condition is satisfied the employer cannot escape liability to pay wages merely on the basis that there is little business because of the shutdown, although there may be a sufficient justification for non-payment in the event that the workplace has been severely damaged by the natural disaster and is thus unfit for work or, strictly speaking, should the employee simply not attend at the workplace, although this may be a matter for further negotiation between the parties.

There is little doubt that the rights and obligations of employees and employers are impacted in times of natural disaster and, more so, when a national shutdown has been declared. Perhaps most desirable here would be a statute or a set of regulations that clearly sets out the rights of the respective parties in such a circumstance. In the absence of this however, resort must be had to traditional legal principles where there is any dispute.

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97 Comments on “National Shutdowns and Workplace Rights”

  1. Hants October 2, 2016 at 2:55 AM #

    AOne sorry for opening


  2. Hants October 2, 2016 at 2:56 AM #


  3. charles skeete October 2, 2016 at 5:10 AM #

    “Bernard Codrington. September 30, 2016 at 9:09 PM #

    @ Bush Tea

    You have perfect 20/ 20 hind sight. If Matthew had developed into a Hurricane 1 status when it reached Barbados”

    Unlike 1955 when we relied on iffing there should be no iffing in this day age when there is so much advanced related technology to influence information gathering. No disrespect to those who try their best under difficult circumstances to do their job but like Bushie I think we went too far overboard taking the weather data on which decisions were made into account.


  4. Well Well & Consequences October 2, 2016 at 6:14 AM #

    When a man has commonsense and can admit he his prone to errors, he can be easily forgiven, cause you know it is highly unlikely he will repeat that error.

    Big difference to arrogant, ignorant ministero0 of government Dennis Kellman.


  5. Well Well & Consequences October 2, 2016 at 6:30 AM #

    Another execution.


  6. Tudor October 2, 2016 at 7:37 AM #

    In another section of the press mention was made that Carlton &A1, Lemon Grass and a popular fast food chain had opened during the shut down. I find it strange that only certain business were identified while others such as the Moon Town “Mall”were not ……

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Harry October 2, 2016 at 11:21 AM #

    Enquiring minds want to know if Housing Minister Denis Kellman is a Minister of the Crown or a shopkeeper .The coverage gives the impression his time is taken up with running a shop rather than a minister’s portfolio. The question arises as to whether he can lawfully operate a variety store while he is a Minister of the Crown. Civil servants say General Orders prohibit them from operating businesses while in the employ of the government. What are the rules as they apply to ministers. Jeff Cumberbatch and Mia what about you Thorne and Speaker Carrington, anyone. Just asking.


  8. David October 2, 2016 at 11:54 AM #

    What is there of any substance to do at Housing? The ministry has no money and is saddled with mainly remedial work that the admin/public servants are capable of executing.


  9. Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right - INRI October 2, 2016 at 12:20 PM #

    @ Tudor


    You does read de paper Tudor?

    Which “popular fast food chain (that) had opened during the shut down” does got Full Page ads in de Nation every day???

    You like you want Roy to loss he pick at Fontabelle and tek way de ole man chance uh getting Winston Jordon job when he retire!!!

    Match and win dat 1000 dollar prize dat de ole man does run heah pun BU for 1,000 dollars in used plastic forks dat people only lick once when they buy their Wing Dings specials.

    Ninjaman tell me de amount of times de forks get lick so you safe to leh de family and visitors use dem ovah without having any fears of sickness.


  10. Colonel Buggy October 2, 2016 at 9:04 PM #

    Astonishingly , even Mrs Ram did not see it profitable to call out her low paid staff and open up her stores last Wednesday.


  11. David October 3, 2016 at 3:18 AM #


  12. Gabriel October 4, 2016 at 8:38 PM #

    Proof that Kellman is retarded…..Most sentences include..
    1….for the semple reason dat…….
    2….yuh muss onderstan de Opportunity Cost
    3….yuh see,yuh have to be very careful dat……


  13. Georgie Porgie October 4, 2016 at 9:22 PM #



  14. Simple Simon October 4, 2016 at 10:07 PM #

    Maybe just before he got that bullet to the back of the head he was sorry as ass that all of that sweet money was spent on high powered legal representation…and still a bullet to the back of the head. I wondered if at that time he thought that he would have been better off spending no money and instead had taken his 15 years in an American jail…because’ all like now he would be walking ’boutfree as a bird …instead of heading down to Westbury.

    But when ya mek a deal wid de devil…


  15. Hants October 5, 2016 at 8:45 AM #

    ” MIDWEEK NATION investigations have revealed that the pay of workers at Divi Southwinds BeachResort was dockedafter they did notreport for work last Wednesday, following a directive from the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) for businessesto remain closed andfor persons to stay indoors.”


  16. Vincent Haynes October 5, 2016 at 9:11 AM #


    Could you print the link to Roy Morris’article in todays midweek nation…….it basically substantiates the point I was making earlier about the shutdown and commonsense.


  17. David October 5, 2016 at 1:24 PM #


    Here is the link: >


  18. chad99999 October 6, 2016 at 4:06 PM #

    Every year, the Canadian tax code takes billions of dollars from men and gives it to women for their support and for so-called child care.

    There are additional one-offs:

    RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson delivered an abject apology Thursday to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees who were subjected to alleged incidents of bullying, discrimination and harassment dating back 42 years.

    Paulson made the apology as he announced the settlement of two class-action lawsuits stemming from the harassment allegations, some of which date back to September 1974. He said the federal government has earmarked $100 million for payouts

    “To all the women, I stand humbly before you today and solemnly offer our sincere apology,” an emotional Paulson told a news conference in Ottawa.

    ‘We failed you. We hurt you’: Text of apology from RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson

    RCMP to offer settlement to hundreds of female Mounties who alleged abuse

    “You came to the RCMP wanting to personally contribute to your community and we failed you. We hurt you. For that, I am truly sorry.”

    Paulson said the settlements would provide financial compensation for the women and pave the way to end potential class-action lawsuits brought forward by former RCMP members Janet Merlo and Linda Gillis Davidson. There is no cap on the potential cost of the payouts, he added.



  1. The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – On Weather Emergency Management | Barbados Underground - October 2, 2016

    […] Barbados Advocate editorial on Friday sought to treat some of the thornier employment relation issues that are likely to arise […]


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