Politics

Employment Relations Act Amended, Paternity Leave And Family Care Leave Reduced To 2 Days

The amendment also specifically looks at the definition of an ‘Act of God’ to also refer to a pandemic.
29 May 2020 12:15
Employment Relations Act Amended, Paternity Leave And Family Care Leave Reduced To 2 Days
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on May 28, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Parliament has passed the amendment to the Employment Relations Act. The amendment reduces the number of days that one is entitled to take for paternity leave and family care leave during the COVID-19 period.

According to Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, the amendment reduces the number of leave days for both types of leave, during the pandemic, from five days to two.

The amendment also specifically looks at the definition of an ‘Act of God’ to also refer to a pandemic.

While speaking on his motion, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the amendment was simply to provide clarity to this definition of the term.

“In a business world, now not just in Fiji, but around the world, and one can argue that a pandemic would be an Act of God. Now to give clarity to what this is and for the purposes to safeguard employers, employees, businesses and the economy, we have clarified that an Act of God is also a pandemic,” he said.
Biman Prasad

However, Opposition Member of Parliament and leader of the National Federation Party (NFP) Biman Prasad referred to the move by Government to debate the amendment on short notice, as devious.

He said that by the end of the year, according to his calculation as an economist, 50 per cent of the Fijian households would struggle to make ends meet.

He also suggested that a fund be set up for employers, stakeholders, foreign governments and those willing to contribute to help those Fijians affected by the pandemic.
Jone Usamate

Minister for Infrastructure,  Meteorological Services, Lands and Mineral Resources, Jone Usamate, called the two amendments to the Act as a decisive move taken to protect businesses, employees and relevant stakeholders.

He said all stakeholders should closely work together.
Faiyaz Koya

Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Faiyaz Koya, called out the leader of NFP for calling the amendments a cosmetic exercise to help employers as a destructive analogy.

He said this move was an unprecedented one as it would help businesses which are actually struggling.

“This was done through a wide range of consultations with relevant stakeholders around the country and comes at an opportune time,” he said.

In his closing remarks, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said mechanisms were in place to assist both the employers and employees during this time.

He also called out the analysis on the front page of Fiji Times yesterday, by former governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Savenaca Narube, and said his calculations were off.

He added that the Government was taking progressive steps to maintain stability.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: ilaijia.ravuwai@fijisun.com.fj

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