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Campaign costs

by Shawn Cumberbatch

campaigningThings will be dread for Barbadian private sector employees expecting money in their pockets after they ditch work in favour of general elections campaigning.

With Barbadians going to the polls to chose their Government next week Thursday, the union representing corporate bosses has told them they should not touch the pay packet of workers who are away from work voting.

But in a February 6 “briefing note” from Barbados Employers’ Confederation Executive Director, Tony Walcott, that organisation advised companies the law did not require them to pay staff involved in electioneering on or before the February 21 polling day.

Walcott’s correspondence directed that on election day “no monies should be deducted from an employee’s wages/salary for time spent in voting or performing duties authorised by the Electoral and Boundaries Commission”.

“Your organisation is however, under no obligation to compensate employees who are voluntarily participating in election campaigning and/or Election Day activities, such as … transporting persons to polling stations etcetera,” Walcott said in the communication seen by Barbados TODAY.

“Communicate with employees, as early as possible, to establish what time is required and the most suitable allotment for both parties. Where possible a roster should be implemented.

“Staff should not be penalised if additional time is utilised in the voting process. However, employees should be urged to communicate any unexpected delays they may experience.

“A contingency plan should be implemented to minimise any disruptions in customer service,” the official added.

The BEC also reminded members that it was against the law to sell, offer or give away intoxicating liquor “at any time between the opening and closing of polls on polling day at any premises in any constituency”.

While the organisation instructed members they would be right if they did not pay employees campaigning instead of turning up for work, it also advised them to allow workers not less than one hour for voting, and also not to deduct their pay or other remuneration, or otherwise penalise them in their legitimate absence.

“Any employer who directly or indirectly refuses or by intimidation, undue influence or in any other way interferes with the granting to an elector in his employ of the period of voting, as provided in this section, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of five hundred dollars or to imprisonment for six months,” Walcott said.

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