Summary dismissal has to be the most disagreeable act visited upon anemployee by an employer but it would appear that in Barbados employers who arenot satisfied and in an effort to further disenfranchise the employee readily invokethe National Insurance and Social Security (Benefit) Regulations.1 At this stage the employeeis at the mercy of an interviewing officer of the National Insurance Scheme whocan disqualify the benefit fully after consultation with the employer. Thisstate of affairs is wicked at best and dictatorial at worse.
Wicked because theemployer has been able to use statute to visit additional hardship on anemployee and dictatorial because in the absence of a ventilated hearing theemployee is forced endure the convening of a NIS tribunal hearing to secure thededucted payment. The decision in the opinion of this paper ought not to bemade if there is a challenge to the dismissal or if no challenge cogentevidence is presented by the employer as to the misconduct. Further to being a disagreeableact it is also a traumatic, financially challenging and mentally debilitatingthat requires in most cases support from family and friends. While the employeeis grappling with a reduced benefit or no benefit he is forced to make therequisite applications to the CLO within three months from the date ofdismissal. This can be a costly exercise for an employee attempting to reorienthis life with little or no income.
Contrastingly the common law affords 6 yearsto bring a cause of action in a wrongful dismissal suit. It seems to this paperthat urgent reform is needed in two areas. Legislation to a large extent isdrafted in isolation which tends to do more harm than good and greatercoordination is need to deliver the improvements intended. If this Act is trulyan improvement then it ought to be an improvement in all areas or at a minimummatch the attempts that are presently applicable. As a result it is suggestedthat curtailment of benefits via the National Insurance and Social Security(Benefit) Regulations be discontinued and as a minimum the length of timeavailable to the employee for applying to the tribunal is at least 6 years. Itis believed that this action will be a solid start for any amendment to the Actin the future and is a clear sign that there is a lot still to do.
1Section 51 (1) (f) (1) A claimant is disqualified for receiving unemploymentbenefit if without good cause hevoluntarily left his employment; or if he lost his employment by reason of hisown misconduct.