Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Get those shops in order!


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BARBADIAN BUSINESSES are being advised to ensure that they are not in breach of the new Shops Act.

The Barbados Employers’ Confederation (BEC) has circulated a note to its members following the introduction of the legislation, which now permits shops to operate from 7 a.m. on Mondays to 11 p.m. on Sundays “continuously”.

“The confederation encourages all shop occupiers to conduct a careful inspection of your businesses to ensure that you are not in breach of the stipulations of the act. Should you require our assistance, we are here to help as we continue on this path of making good employers better,” the BEC told its members.

The BEC reminded its membership that the Shops Act “makes provisions to ensure safety of workers while proactively minimising cost to employers by providing the rules and regulations at our fingertips”.

“For the sake of clarity, this act will repeal and replace the Shops Act . . . making new and warranted provisions to opening and closing hours of shops; terms and conditions of employment; health and safety standards; and also widens the scope to include businesses such as cinemas, laundries, floral services; barber services, beauty and cosmetic services, as well as gaming services,” it noted.

Employers were also told that “considering the significance of this act and the repercussions that follow if it is not adhered to, the act explicitly speaks to the powers of the Chief Labour Officer and magistrates”.

It also “highlights the important role the Chief Fire Officer plays in ensuring a safe work environment within occupiers’ shops”.

“Should there be any breach of the act, persons guilty will be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10 000 or imprisonment for one year or both, where no other penalty is identified,” the BEC said.

In terms of other provisions of the legislation, the Shops Act “identifies what the working hours and wages of shop assistants should reflect, stipulating that working hours should not exceed 40 hours a week exclusive of mealtimes”.

“Furthermore, shop assistants should not be required to work on any day for four and a half consecutive hours without an interval for a meal, nor should they work in excess of eight hours, exclusive of mealtime, on any given work day,” the BEC told members.

“Be mindful that in some instances, for example, during the Christmas period, should that shop assistant be direly required to work in excess of 40 hours a week, he or she should be given an interval of 12 hours off between each shift and should not work for more than five days in any given week.”

When he introduced the new legislation in the House of Assembly last year, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss said beyond economic considerations, health and safety was a major focus of the act.

“There may be several enterprises in Barbados that do not meet what would be considered to be minimum standards for health and safety at the workplace and the state has a duty to protect its citizens by ensuring that we enshrine in law these minimum requirements: that we are clear as to who is the competent authority for all of the investigations, licensing and the remedies to be effected and, of course, the penalties that would certainly accrue to those who do not address these matter,” he said. (SC)


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