Seychelles’ government to act against employers who don’t pay foreign workers

The Seychelles' Department of Employment will be putting in place stricter measures to deter employers from breaking employment laws, said a top official.

The planned tightening of measures comes after six Bangladeshi employees of a security firm approached media houses to express their frustration as their employers had failed to pay them their wages.

The principal secretary for employment, Jules Baker, said there is a need to regulate how the recruitment of foreign workers is made to avoid such incidents.

There is no control at the moment, meaning that recruitment can be made in any country through any agent or consultant. This is where the problem lies - you do not know what conditions were made, he said.

Another means of averting such incidents is to put restrictions on employing foreign workers and annulling positions within companies in cases of non-payment of salaries.

If an employer cannot afford to pay their migrant workers' salaries, the department will deduce that an employer does not need these workers and will consequently annul those posts and force the employer to send them back home, said Baker.

He added that his department is considering looking into the financial status of companies applying for Gainful Occupation Permit (GOP) in the future to ensure that the companies have means to pay and accommodate the foreign workers.

Baker said that the issue of non-compliance is more prevalent among businesses in the agricultural sector, security firms, cleaning agencies and construction.

There are nine locally owned companies that are currently in defiance of employment laws. This represents five percent of businesses in the country, added the principal secretary for employment.

The employment department is satisfied that two out of these nine companies have already paid their workers' salaries and have started the process to repatriate their migrant workers.

However, there are still pending issues within their organisations that need to be resolved, said Baker, adding that the case of the six Bangladeshi is not among the two mentioned.

The nine companies have been given a month to sort out these issues. Failure to do so will cause the government to intervene.

The government will tap into the Traffic in Person's Fund which is administered by the department of immigration to assist by paying these workers. All the indicators show that there is an element that has to do with Trafficking in Person."

A sum of $58,819 to $73,698 might be needed from the fund to settle the dept of the employees.

The companies need to sign an agreement saying that they agree for the government to intervene and pay off the debt on their behalf and that the government along with the Attorney General's Office, said Baker.

He added that his department will look for a way to recover the money from the company through the employment tribunal that the company has legally accepted to return the money in a given amount of time.

Additionally, the employment department will amend its laws to extend the fine for non-payments of salaries from the current $1,470 to $3,684 to $7,369.

Paying employees their salaries and benefits is not the only problem the department is encountering. Other violations include improper accommodations and abuse of working hours.

Baker said that from now on, "if the ministry of health gives us a certificate for an accommodation and the company does not put its worker in that particular accommodation, we will revoke the posts.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

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