Labour Ministry recovers $69M in restitution for employees

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton

In 2023, a total of 912 complaints from employees regarding various issues such as termination benefits, annual leave, unlawful deductions from salaries, overtime payments, failure to pay minimum wage and severance payments were lodged at the Ministry of Labour.

The Ministry’s Labour Department was able to resolve 85 percent of these complaints on behalf of the employees. And the other 15 percent would be resolved within the first quarter of 2024.

In this regard, 32 matters were filed in the Magistrate Courts, where 21 cases were resolved last year while 11 are still before the courts and are at different stages in the legal proceedings.

As a result of the resolved cases, a total of $69 million was recovered on behalf of employees, a 42 percent increase when compared to 2022.

During his Ministry’s End of Year press conference on Tuesday, subject Minister Joseph Hamilton disclosed that a large proportion of complaints were made by workers employed in the private security sector.

It was revealed that several companies in the sector aforementioned refused to pay the basic minimum wage of $60,147 per month.

“People still failing to pay sixty something thousand (dollars) per month, 15 thousand something per week, we still have to deal with that, those are matters in court. Most especially and grievously the security companies are notorious. One time we had about 400 cases against one person in the court,” Hamilton said.

“As I speak to you, CLO (Chief Labour Officer) is looking at a matter where somebody is offering $10 million to resolve an issue. He’s saying to me that when he starts to compute the $10 million, it ain’t even scratch the surface of what they owe the employee,” he added.

Minister Hamilton explained that government’s goal is to resolve the remaining cases this year, and engage employers through forums such as seminars, in an effort to reduce such complaints.

Those will be paired with efforts to conduct business inspections to ensure companies comply with the legislative requirements governing conditions of work.