Executive Director of the Barbados Employers Confederation, Tony Walcott
Executive Director of the Barbados Employers Confederation, Tony Walcott

The body which advises employers in Barbados said this morning that it was not its members concern what may prevent a worker from being able to get to the job.

The position was made clear by Executive Director of the Barbados Employers Confederation, Tony Walcott, during the question-and-answer segment of a panel discussion on absenteeism at the Savannah Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church, which was organised by the Human Resources Management Association of Barbados.

When a member of the audience asked the panel to comment on a scenario where a worker reported he could not get to work because there was no bus, Walcott responded: “Missing the bus or the bus not coming is not the concern of the employer.”

Walcott, a member of the Employment Rights Tribunal, insisted that workers were paid to be at work and to be on time.

“Even if you have to run, it is your responsibility to get to work,” he argued.

But when she gave her presentation, fellow panellist, Mona Robinson, who is Assistant General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations, rejected Walcott’s “hard-and-fast” position.

Robinson, who is also General Secretary of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, reasoned that such an approach did not lend itself to proper employer-employee relations. She was of the opinion that employers needed to be more flexible, adding that if they were flexible in one way, they should be so in others.

In his substantive presentation, Walcott did admit that workers had legitimate reasons to be away from their jobs. He cited personal illness and family issues as two such issues.

However, he noted that absenteeism could be traced to other factors such as a poor working environment and workers who lacked commitment to their jobs. The BEC executive director recommended that a tracking system for absenteeism be introduced along with another to cost absenteeism.

He told the panel discussion that the Tuesday after Grand Kadooment “is real grief in most organisations”. He also suggested that employers tighten up their employment contracts, pointing out that under the new act, they had until October to do so.

The member of the Employment Rights Tribunal also advised employers to put all interviews with offenders of absenteeism in writing. He said the onus was on the worker to justify his or her absence. He stated that three out of every 100 workers were likely to take advantage of the system.

“The costs associated with absenteeism can be controlled. Scheduled time off for vacation and illnesses is an inevitable cost of doing business,” Walcott submitted.

He recommended the development of absence policies, noting that “written polices can give employers added legal protection from employees who have been terminated or disciplined for excessive absenteeism”.

The employers advisor said this was provided that those policies explicitly state the allowable number of absences, the consequences of excessive absenteeism and other relevant aspects standard. (EJ)

7 Responses to SO WHAT?

  1. Kirt Jordan
    Kirt Jordan July 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Just goes to show how much these employers care about their employees, once they get their work done, thats all that matters: and they expect 100% efforts?

  2. pat lucombe July 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Quite true some bosses just do not care.

  3. BajanHut July 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    ye but thats what they pay you for. not out the kindness of their heart. we the travelling public need to demand more from the service providers. i think thats where our grouse should be. i agree with him there.

    on the same note though Mr Tony, how you get extra work done over and beyond what you pay me for is not our concern either. tell that to your buddies on the confederation. so ya see this lazy and inefficient talk? scratch that, we do what we paid for. knife cuts both ways Tony

  4. Gregg Moseley Clarke
    Gregg Moseley Clarke July 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    they don’t cause its still slavery

  5. Sammy Lewis July 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    If I know that a job that I am interested in is being offered in a part of the country where transportation to the job is difficult…. then I would: 1) not take that job; or 2) take the job and relocate nearby where I can get to the job without much difficulty; or 3) Move nearer and buy a bicycle with which to get to work without depending on transport; or 4) arrange with a friend to take me to the work for which I would pay him/her. Sorry, but I have to agree agree with Walcot. If it meant getting out of bed at 2 am to start walking to the job, then that’s what I would do if I really wanted that job and there was no reliable transport to get to it. People nowadays want their bread buttered, and they expect to eat their cake and still have it. Get real people. Get Real!

  6. Renee July 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    It’s amazing that the same people that disagree with Mr. Walcott would complain when a business is not open on time – maybe the employees missed the bus!

  7. Fiona Waldron July 24, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Well said Sammy and Renee. I don’t know how people in this society became so spoilt that we no longer understand responsibility. You have a job, it is your responsibility to get there. Amazed at the negative comments! Your boss expects 100% because he pays you for it.

    Sorry BajanHut, he hit the mark with lazy and inefficient and that covers both private and public sector. They are not saying anything new. Go the the Registrar’s office and you will see inefficiency to the max. Try applying for a landline with LIME you will see inefficiency. You sit in a lawyer’s office for forever because he cannot be bothered to see you on time. The carpenter says he is coming at 9 am, but graces you with his presence 2 says later. You languish in the lines in the bank and the manager does not have the initiative to come out and see how things can be fast tracked. You sit and you wait in any given office and they have no worries telling you ‘come back tomorrow’ or when you get to an office that is supposed to be open at 8:30 and someone tells you ‘X is not here come back at 11’. May X live forever because clearly no one else will touch his work. They can’t be bothered.
    These are microcosms of the entire system. Now when the average joe takes his lunch hour to go do business with any of these service providers the poor sod is likely to be be missing for hours and then he too looks like a slacker.

    Time for us Barbadian workers to take back up our mantle of pride and industry. If we cannot increase our productivity from the clerk up to the CEO, the I am afraid we will be fighting a losing battle. You better believe the countries with which we compete for trade and investment opportunities are giving it their all.


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