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News Report: Chamber raises holiday observance issue with government

Written by Natario McKenzie, Eyewitness Business News, December 7, 2021

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government has assured the private sector that workers will be entitled to their 16 hours of holiday pay regardless of what decision Cabinet takes regarding the observance of the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays.

Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) chairperson told Eyewitness News that she raised the matter with the government.

“While many persons that work Monday through Friday would appreciate retaining the two holiday days this year, some of the chamber members (retail and hospitality) wanted to make sure that they understood how the holiday hours would work in light of this,” she told Eyewitness News.

“The last time both holidays fell on a weekend it was agreed to give employees 16 hours of holiday pay, ie the two holiday days that they would be entitled to. That way, a retailer can reopen on Tuesday as their staff received holiday pay for Saturday and Monday,” Ferguson continued.

“Also a hotel would know how much they have to pay staff that works on those days. I raised the matter with the Government and was assured that regardless of the decision taken at Cabinet, these workers would be entitled to their 16 hours of holiday pay.”

The Cabinet is expected to discuss today whether it will add an additional day to the current Christmas holiday weekend, Press Secretary Clint Watson said last week.

Presently, according to the 2021 Public Holidays calendar issued by the Cabinet Office, while both Christmas Day and Boxing Day fall on a Saturday and Sunday respectfully, only Boxing Day will be observed as a holiday on the following Monday.

Watson told Eyewitness News that this was a decision made under the previous Minnis administration.

“The government of The Bahamas recognizes that usually there would be two holiday days, and so the prime minister is indicating that he will raise the issue at Cabinet on Tuesday with his colleagues and they will make a determination as to whether an additional day will be given for the holidays,” he said.

As for the 2022 Public Holidays calendar, Watson has noted that the Davis administration saw it fit to observe both Christmas holidays (Christmas Day and Box Day) on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Rupert Roberts, Super Value’s owner told Eyewitness News: “Whatever they decide we have to abide by it but we will be open every day. It wouldn’t make any difference.”

Roberts said: “We are going to be open every day. We have found in the past is that we had to open up even on Christmas Day. It wouldn’t make a difference to us. Some employees are anxious to make double. We don’t make it compulsory to work on Christmas Day, we have staff volunteer.”

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