Businesses will have to pay employees at the rate of time and a half on Monday following the government’s approval of the one-off holiday for the observance of the Queen’s burial; BCCI has requested that the regular pay rate be applied for that date.
BELIZE CITY, Fri. Sept. 16, 2022
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) wrote to the Ministry of Labor last week to request that business owners be exempted from paying employees at the time and a half pay rate mandated by the Labour Act for work done by those employees on the public and bank holiday scheduled for Monday, September 19. Section 118 of the Labor Act stipulates that employees be paid at a rate of time and a half (150% of what they are typically paid) on public and bank holidays. The BCCI is contending, however, that the increased payout would cause additional financial hardship on businesses trying to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The president of BCCI, Marcello Blake, in a letter sent to the Ministry of Labor, drew attention to the short notice that businesses got of the approaching holiday and to the financial impact the holiday would have on those enterprises and used these as the basis for his request that the regular daily pay rate be applied for that day.
A letter of response from the CEO of the Ministry of Labour, Valentino Shal, however, informed the BCCI that their request could not be granted, since the relevant bodies that would have to be involved in making such a decision would not be able to meet and consult within the limited span of time prior to the holiday.
Shal emphasized in the letter that those “relevant bodies” would have had to be consulted in order for Minister Oscar Requena to exercise the provision under section 119(2) that allows for an Order of Exemption.
In an interview last Friday with local media, however, Blake said that the government entities could have used the option of a virtual meeting to carry out the required consultation. He further commented that the response is not favorable to the business community, who will have to bear the additional costs without having an opportunity to properly plan.
The decision by GoB, said Blake, has put those businesses “deeper into the hole”, in the aftermath of the financial pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.