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Change to work permits in Jamaica

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Change to work permits in Jamaica

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Senate has approved amendments to a bill, which will exempt certain categories of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals from acquiring work permits.
Justice Minister and Attorney General, Dorothy Lightbourne, who piloted the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) (Amendment) Act, said the changes are in keeping with Chapter Three of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, establishing CARICOM and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The CSME allows for the free movement of skills, goods, services and labour across the region and Caribbean governments have so far approved of certain categories of skilled workers, including university graduates, to move freely within the 15-member regional grouping.
According to the legislation, among the  workers who will be exempted from work permits include self-employed persons, nurses, teachers, holders of associate degrees, artisans with vocational qualifications, and household domestics.
“I would like to emphasise that CARICOM nationals, who do not fall within the classification of the limited categories of skilled nationals, service providers or persons seeking to exercise rights of establishment, must still get a work permit or work permit exemption from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security,” Lightbourne said.
The accompanying Regulations were also amended to require that persons exempt under the Principal Act will now have to apply to the Labour Minister for certificates stating the nature of the exemptions.
“This provision is really important because it addresses the current gap in the law where, although it clearly provides for exemption certificates in specified cases, it does not mandate that the relevant categories of persons apply to the Minister to access the exemption,” the Justice Minister said.
The amendments to the Principal Act, also seek to remove the requirement for exemption certificates to be issued to persons, who wish to transact short-term business-related activities within the island.
In addition, provision has been made for an increase in fines and penalties for breaches of the work permit requirements. (CMC)