Issue 6: Employment of Foreign Workers
Minister, the SHTA has a number of serious concerns regarding the new GOP procedures which, whilst not implemented without consultation, have been written in complete disregard of the points raised by the private sector and which were at the time of dialogue, notionally accepted as valid. This in itself is a worrying situation, whereby tokenistic consultation can be seen as as negative as no consultation at all.
The new procedures represent, in our view, a lack of awareness of the consequences for our industry and therefore the national economy.
The decision to attest contracts prior to GOP application will cause the following difficulties for businesses.
Firstly time will be lost (and unnecessary costs incurred) as the contract will need to be couriered for the candidates signature.
Secondly the employment department, which suffers from limited human resources, will be placed under further pressure as a consequence of the new policy. This will provoke potential litigation as the period of the employment set on the contract will, if delays are as we expect, not reflect the period of the GOP issue.
Thirdly, certain countries restrict the number of hours which constitute a working week, for example an employment agency in Nepal will not allow a 60 hpw contract as their legislation restricts terms to 48 hpw. This is currently circumvented by the employee only signing the contract once in Seychelles, however the new regulations will not allow this.
In addition to the above SHTA regrets that no reference has been made to the need for the issuance of No Objection Certificates (NOCs). The absence of this endorses the present situation whereby an employee can arbitrarily leave employment and the Seychelles without the employer’s sanction. This omission has the most serious implications for the tourism private sector. The advantages of having NOCs can be summarised as follows:
Employers are protected from staffing shortages and the failure of employees to comply with the terms of their contracts. The NOC system would protect the employer within the context of transparency and fairness for all parties.
Through the issuing by the employer of the NOC, the immigration office would also be able to control the unsanctioned departure of staff. At the time of consultation this point was taken positively by PS Baker who confirmed that all our points would be taken into consideration. His failure to do this is discouraging and does not bode well for future fruitful collaboration between the private sector and the government.
Minister, what may be done to mitigate the potentially harmful effect of these ill-considered policies? SHTA would respectfully suggest that the tourism industry be made exempt from those elements which will, if enforced, be detrimental to our industry and the national economy. There are precedents, with the tourism sector receiving exemptions and special consideration within the context of prior fiscal legislation in order to rightly protect and develop our industry. Such measures are drastically needed now in the light of these new implementations and this is why SHTA is extracting this section of this open letter and sending it to Minister Telemaque, the Minister of Employment, Immigration & Civil Status. We very much hope that your Ministry will join with the SHTA to make appropriate representations on this matter which will lead to the potentially negative consequences of the new policy framework being neutralised. We will be very pleased to hear from you concerning how this might be realised.
We feel that to an extent our industry is being penalised for the ill-doings of employers in other sectors and that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to foreign labour issues is crude and potentially harmful to tourism. We would advocate a customised approach to such legislation which is mindful of the unique operational character of our industry and also our important contribution to GDP.’
Minister, these are the main points concerning the health of our industry which we would like you to consider. We will shortly be holding a series of regional meetings for our members, after which we will possess further data with regards to concerns, proposals, training needs and achievements. We will of course share this with you.
We look forward to working closely with you in order to address any and all matters pertinent to the growth and security of our tourism industry in the interest of Seychelles and all Seychellois.
Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association