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Govt approves rules for employment agencies

~ Licence, labour contracts now required ~

PHILIPSBURG--Employment agencies operating in St. Maarten are now required to be licensed and will need to establish working agreements with their workers.

These are two key elements of regulations governing these agencies that have been approved by the Council of Ministers in an effort to streamline job placement agencies.

Labour Minister Cornelius de Weever told reporters at Wednesday's Council of Ministers press briefing, that government has approved the implementation of the national decree regarding employment agencies which date back to December 4, 1989, (under the constellation of the former Netherlands Antilles).

Numerous meetings have been held with stakeholders including two meetings with job placement agencies on this subject.

In expounding on the regulations, De Weever said a licensing system has been introduced, as well as the integration of an agreement between the employment agency and their staffers. "This means that the worker will have a labour contract with the agency. The consequence of this enactment is that the employment agencies will also need an operating license in order to operate an employment agency," he told reporters.

"We also addressed the issues of enforcement tools, the application process and a reporting obligation. So the decree clearly describes how to register an agency and what forms should be used and what documents should be handed over to register," said De Weever.

The decree clearly indicates how reporting should be done. "I believe this is a milestone," the minister said.

De Weever said a meeting had been held with author of the modernised Civil Code professor Jan de Boer and the Labour Department regarding a comprehensive approach to tackle other labour issues, such as the short term labour contracts.

A draft amendment to the civil code on stemming the abuse of short term labour contracts had been compiled and submitted by the National Alliance (NA) some years ago. De Weever said he had asked the National Alliance last year to give him some time to ensure that the abuse of short term labour contracts is addressed comprehensively. By addressing just the short term labour contracts, authorities would have missed other opportunities to address many other labour issues, he noted.

De Weever said he had insisted on addressing the concerns with employment agencies, because he had noticed if short term contracts only had been addressed, "right away" businesses could have shifted to the use of employment agencies and vice versa. "So I believe that a two pronged approach was necessary."

During the meeting with de Boer the civil code had been raised, which is the responsibility of the Justice Minister. The code is expected to be discussed in the Council of Ministers meeting on Tuesday, July 22.

"In this we are addressing numerous issues such as the short term employment contract, birth and pregnancy, equal treatment, as well as the rights of employees with respect to transfer of enterprise. This is a collective effort, I believe, by all stakeholders. We've also met with the Social Economic Council SER and also had tripartite dialogue and I believe this will continue to address many issues that St. Maarten has been faced with," De Weever contended.

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