No Govt policy in place to ban females working night shift- Harmon

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Following the heavy barrage of criticisms levied on Government over Junior Social Protection Minister Keith Scott’s plan to bar single mothers from working the night shift for private security firms, State Minister State Joseph Harmon is now saying that there is no ban on the employment of women working at night.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

The Minister made the comment at his Ministry of the Presidency Office on Thursday 7th September 2017.

The Minister said that in relation to the question about a night work ban for women working in private security companies, the Minister of Social Protection is responsible for the protection of all Guyanese including women, and therefore it is quite appropriate for concerns to be expressed about the condition under which women work at night. He however, made it clear that there is no policy position approved by Cabinet where there is to be a ban on any females working in security services at night.

Harmon said, “as far as the government is concerned we have had no debate on the matter. The senior Minister of Social Protection in that regard would have to bring a paper to Cabinet and Cabinet will have to debate on it. Until such time that that occurs the situation remains as it is and that is to say that women will continue to work either day or night and there is no restriction on them”.

Minister Keith Scott

Harmon’s dissuasive position follows pronouncements made by Minister Scott, in a missive, that his Ministry made it clear that it planned to minimise and eventually eliminate night work for single mothers within the private security industry and as such, directives were issued to other Ministries.

“In pursuit of this noble idea, the Hon Minister is with immediate effect requesting his colleagues and other senior Government functionaries to take all feasible steps to give efficacy to the initiative,” the missive said.

“Accordingly, they are asked to ensure that with immediate effect the contracts for the provision of private security services provide for the exclusion of single mothers from night work,” it continued.

Minister Harmon has instead indicated that Government is calling on security companies to acknowledge and recognize that there are special conditions under which women should work and therefore those facilities for women should also be acknowledged and recognized by security firms. “There is no restriction on their right to work, what we will ask and we will insist is that the employers who employ women must ensure the conditions under which they work that they provide for the special arrangements which have to do with women in the workforce.”

The Minister of State added too that Government is  always opened to advice as he stressed that the rights of workers must always be protected in the actual payment which they receive for the work that they do; he noted too that “these persons national insurance contributions must be paid. So there is an obligation on the part of the employer and an obligation on the part of the employee.”

Harmon said that the State will provide the legislative and regulatory framework within which that relationship between employer and employee exists.

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