Against the backdrop of recent complaints by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), this island’s trade unions are telling employers to stop defaulting on workers’ contributions.
Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) said while some employers may be experiencing financial difficulties, they must make a decision to either pay, or get rid of the employees.
“Sometimes the employers [have] got to make a choice — either keep them [workers] employed or terminate them. Basically, it’s best to keep them employed until things pick up and then pay their dues,” Smith said.
She noted that the non-payment of contributions was a longstanding issue and that in several instances workers were of the view their NIS deductions were being paid, only to discover when they became ill that the money was not being submitted.
“It is nothing new, especially now within this economic setting, you would find more of that happening,” she added.
The Barbados Union of Teachers
(BUT) is also urging employers to pay in their dues.
“I believe if the workers’ National Insurance [payments] are deducted, they should be paid in because you never know what would happen when you have to draw upon the resources of the National Insurance. So I know for sure, the BUT pays in its National Insurance on time.
“I don’t think any employer should withhold the National Insurance for whatever reason,” Shepherd stressed.
He noted that some employers may be having financial challenges and delayed payments.
“It’s a serious thing to do. You don’t know what would happen, when it would happen.
“As a trade union, which represents workers, and an employer, I would want to encourage all employers also to so do,” the BUT leader stressed.
The NIS has already demonstrated its intention to force employers to pay their dues.
It has made an example of the Government-owned National Housing Corporation (NHC), which owned the scheme almost $10 million.
That sum dates back to 2009 and as recently as February this year, the NIS filed a series of certificates in the Supreme Court, making claims against the NHC for delinquent contributions.
The biggest claim filed by the NIS in September last year is for $1.9 million. Another certificate filed in September
2013 is for $1.8 million, and in April 2011 for $1.1 million.