Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy *File photo
Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy *File photo

The Ministry of Home Affairs announced today that it has released the final draft of the 2013 Work Permit Policies to the Work Permit Stakeholder Group for confirmation of amendments.

The public will recall that the Work Permit Stakeholder Group commenced the Work Permit Policy review under the former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Patrice Minors.

They have since concluded their work under the Minister of Home Affairs, Sen. the Hon. Michael M. Fahy, JP

The goal of the 2013 Work Permit Policies is to ensure a balance that does not disadvantage Bermudians, but instead provide support to ensure a beneficial, profitable, business sector in an effort to grow the economy – and as a consequence add new jobs. 

Minister Fahy noted that the proposed policy amendments seek to remove many of the barriers, real and perceived, associated with Bermuda being open for business. As a result the proposals are broad and aggressive.

Former Minister Minors invited a wide cross section of representatives to collaborate on the policy review and Minister Fahy supported their continued participation after assuming responsibility for Immigration upon taking office in December. 

The Work Permit Stakeholder Group includes:

• Chris Furbert representing the Bermuda Trade Union Congress

• Anthony Wolffe representing the Bermuda Trade Union Congress

• Kellianne Gibbons representing the Bermuda Hotel Association

• Charles Dunstan representing the Construction Association of Bermuda

• Joanne MacPhee representing the Chamber of Commerce

• Keith Jensen representing the Bermuda Employers Council

• Doug Soares representing the Bermuda Human Resources Association

• Richard Winchell representing the Association of Bermuda International Companies

• Leila Maderios representing the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers

• Dr Danette Ming, Chief Immigration Officer; and

• Cherie Whitter, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs

Today Minister Fahy said, “In an effort to update, clarify, and modernize Bermuda’s work permit policies and further extend our open for business message, the former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry commenced the process of re-drafting the Work Permit Policies with a view to crafting a new policy.

“Work to craft a completely new policy however did not materialize but rather resulted in a policy revision with the addition of a few significant policy initiatives including “Special Category Work Permits.”

The Minister explained that Special Category Work Permits provide for the Global Work Permit, designed to assist global companies move employees throughout their organization, including Bermuda; and the New Business Work Permit which allows an exempt company that is new to Bermuda to receive up to five work permits for overseas recruits for senior executive positions in an expedited fashion.

The Minister added, “Procedural changes expected to complement the implementation of the revised Work Permit Polices will include a Recruitment Declaration Form to be incorporated into the work permit application process.  Employers will be required to disclose all contacts made as a part of the recruitment process and declare that their recruitment statement is truthful.  In the coming months, the Recruitment Declaration will be supported by legislative amendments designed to penalize employers who falsify or fail to disclose the details of the recruitment process wherein a work permit application is sought.

“The Recruitment Declaration Form will serve to strengthen the work permit application process and ensure that Bermudians are treated fairly. My aim is to challenge my colleagues to agree to legislate a hefty penalty for violators.”

Additional amendments include, but are not limited to, the following:

• OPEN, CLOSED AND RESTRICTED JOB CATEGORIES - the following additions have been made to – Closed Category: Technician; Grocery Packer; Cashier; Courier and additions to the Restricted Category: Carpenter, Administrative Assistant; Room Attendants; Kitchen Porter; Landscape Gardener; Mason.

• ADVERTISING AND RECRUITMENT CRITERIA - advertising requirements have been amended requiring advertising a post a minimum of three times over an eight day period and there is a listing under sub-section Exceptions to Advertising Requirements; Automatic Waivers which identifies posts where a waiver of advertising is already applied.

• WORK PERMIT PROCESSES - the sub-section Changing Employers has been amended to reflect that a work permit holder may change jobs after 2 years of employment with his/her first employer. Sub-section Non-Bermudian Part Owners of Businesses has been expanded upon for clarity.

• JOB CATEGORIES WITH SPECIAL CONDITIONS -Senior Care Worker, Photographer, Seasonal Work Permit, and Locum Pharmacist Permit have been added as new sub-sections.

• RESTRICTIONS ON NON-BERMUDIANS SEEKING OR OBTAINING EMPLOYMENT - a defined salary structure has been added for single parents and/or married couples with dependent children.

• DEPENDANT CHILDREN OF NON-BERMUDIANS - new addition that allows children under 19 years of age to work during the summer without the requirement for a work permit.

• COMPETENCY WITH THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE - newly added section which has been in practice in past but has now been clarified and officially incorporated into the Work Permit Policies.

Minister Fahy said, “It is anticipated that the revised Work Permit Polices will be become effective 1st April, 2013. In the interim the Department of Immigration will commence internal and external stakeholder training, revise the Work Permit Application Forms and documents and ensure that the Department and stakeholders are in a state of readiness on implementation day.”

The Minister also pointed out that training was a fundamental part of the Ministry’s overall goal to ensure that Bermudians are afforded opportunities in the work place.

He referenced the Department of Labour and Training which will soon become the Workforce Development Department and how it will play a key role in ensuring the development of a skilled and employed workforce. The Workforce Development Department will operate as a hub for all stakeholders in the labour market. It will promote collaboration between employers and Bermudian job-seekers, monitor changes in the workforce dynamics, and focus on addressing the training needs of Bermudians.

Minister Fahy concluded that it has been agreed that the stakeholder group will continue its work in a bid to totally reform and modernize work permit policies and procedures and he looks forward to the ongoing support of the Stakeholders as “we collectively work towards recovering, rebuilding and restoring the promise of Bermuda”.