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Bill passed, Family Care and Paternity Leave reduced

May 28, 2020 4:55 pm
Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [File Photo]

Parliament has this hour passed the Employment Relations Amendment Bill to reduce Family Care Leave and Paternity Leave to two days.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in tabling the Bill confirmed that the two leave provisions will be reduced from the current five days to two days during the COVID-19 period.

He adds that anyone who has taken their five days entitlements under Family Care Leave and Paternity Leave will not be penalized.

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If somebody has already taken five days, just because it’s been reduced to two does not mean they have to pay back for the (additional) three days. That’s gone. They’ve taken it, that’s fine. Workers who have used two days Family Care Leave or Paternity Leave will not be able to claim an added two or three days. After the COVID-19 period ends, workers entitlements will resume as normal, so it’s an interim measure.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the amendment will classify COVID-19 as An Act of God and provide clarity on the duties of employers.

The lack of clarity on whether pandemics constitute an Act of God results in employer and worker uncertainty as to whether the duty to provide work continues during the COVID-19 period. Employers will bear the burden of paying their workers despite COVID-19 which prevented them providing work in the first place. Though this matter may be clarified by the Courts if a case arises, such a process may be lengthy and thus it is in the public interest that clarity is provided as soon as possible.

The end of the COVID-19 period will be decided by the Minister of Employment after consultations with the Ministry of Health, the Prime Minister’s Office, other ministries and the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

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