By Telesha Persaud
THE Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security (MLHSSS) and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) yesterday signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC), towards greater effectiveness and efficiencies in the protection of the rights and benefits of workers.
-The signing took place in Office of the President, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown, in the presence of Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir, Chairman of the NIS Board, Dr Roger Luncheon, NIS General Manager, Ms. Doreen Nelson, Chief Labour, Occupational Safety and Health Officer, Mr. Yoganand Persaud and Permanent Secretary in the Human Services Ministry, Mr. Trevor Thomas.
MLHSSS and NIS said they are concerned about the efficient use of resources within the two entities and will be conducting inspections to determine whether there is compliance with the provisions of the National Insurance and Social Security Act and Labour Laws.
In his speech on the occasion, Mr. Nadir said both the NIS and the Labour Department have to inspect the same wages records and it is not too much for the latter to check and ascertain if deductions are being paid over to the former.
He said the MOC compels each entity to empower the otherxs officers to carry out their inspections and, since NIS plays a pivotal role in the lives of workers, it must be ensured that there is adequate social security protection for them and that it works well.
Nadir pointed out that both signatories can prosecute those who in breach of the relevant laws and the Ministry will resort to legal action against defaulters.
He also stated that, while the MOC is intended to educate workers, it is to make sure that their contributions are not only deducted but remitted.
Luncheon, in his remarks, said the MOC intends to heighten the intervention needed in the context of what is happening in that sphere and compliance with the labour laws.
He said the situation, as it relates to workersx deductions, must be improved.
xMany self-employed people do not contribute. Among those employed however, I canxt say wexre happy with the way these deductions finally end up at NIS.x
Luncheon, also Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), explained that the xpractical interventionx is to assure that workersx deductions are accurately placed while bringing together the two streams of legislation for greater coordination.
Persaud said NIS and the Labour Ministry share a common ground in the area of inspection. Therefore, they decided to utilise their resources, in the form of inspectors, for policing the rights/safety of workers.
He remarked that the signing was done at an opportune time as Labour Day was recently celebrated.
According to the MOC, Labour, Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) officers, during their inspections of businesses, would check the wages records of the businesses and note whether NIS is being deducted from the workersx emoluments.
In addition, they are to check if the employeesx NIS deductions and the employersx contributions are being paid to the NIS in a timely manner.
The MOC said the LOSH officers would take note of the dates and receipt numbers of the last payments and NIS inspectors will detect breaches of LOSH laws.
Information on the payment of NIS contributions by the employers will be entered into the Ministryxs website database and, on a weekly basis, a report on delinquent employees shall be sent to the Head of the NIS.
The documentation also said the NIS inspectorate shall then compile, on a weekly basis, suspected Labour Laws violations and convey then, through the General Manager to the Chief Labour Officer.
Both entities shall establish mechanisms to ensure follow-up actions on the reported violations which have been brought to their attention.
The MOC said, as well, that both entities shall train each otherxs officers, so as to increase their technical competence and knowledge of the relevant laws and expedite the training to ensure their respective officers acquire the skills, within a month of the signing of the MOC.
After then, the MOC stipulates that ongoing training shall be executed to upgrade the skills and to ensure new employees are capable.
The MOC said, too, that other areas of cooperation include:
* the parties to the agreement would share data with a view of updating
each otherxs register of existing businesses;
* the NIS would expedite all NIS claims that are brought to its attention by
the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security and
* the parties shall review and amend their respective statutes, in order to
give greater effect to the objectives of this cooperation.