By Elesha George
The Labour Department has advised that only the Boxing Day holiday which will be commemorated on December 28th, 2020, will be recognised and compensated as such.
‘The Labour Department wishes to advise that based on the December 17, 2020 Proclamation by the Governor General via Statutory Instrument 2020, No. 82; Saturday 26th December, 2020 will not be a Public Holiday. Further, the Boxing Day Holiday, 2020 will be commemorated on December 28th, 2020 throughout Antigua and Barbuda,” the Labour Commissioner said in a statement.
Previously, varying advice on how this year’s Boxing Day celebration should be compensated had caused confusion within the public domain.
On one hand, the Attorney General and Labour Minister, Steadroy Benjamin advised employers to remunerate its workers for both Saturday, December 26th – the day designated as Boxing Day – as well as on Monday December 28th – the day decreed as Boxing Day by the Governor General.
Benjamin acknowledged that the issue was up to interpretation, given that there was no steadfast rule on the matter and said that either legislation change to the Public Holiday Act or an interpretation by the Industrial Court will settle the matter in future.
On the other hand, the Antigua & Barbuda Chamber of Commerce, the Antigua & Barbuda Employers’ Federation and the Antigua & Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association on Monday evening jointly advised employers to only recognise the Monday as a paid holiday.
“Concerns were raised by the Executives of all bodies after media comments over the weekend by the Attorney General advising that both Saturday the 26th and Monday the 28th will be observed as Boxing Day. The statement that both days would be observed would mean that holiday pay would be due and payable on both days,” a joint statement from the group read.
Following a meeting, the group advised their membership to abide by the proclamation set forth by the Governor General regarding the observed holiday on Boxing Day.
They interpreted that the proclamation issued by the Governor General confirms that Monday the 28th (Boxing Day) is the holiday and Saturday 26th would be a normal working day.
The group also added that by increasing the payroll cost, should both Saturday the 26th and Monday the 28th be recognized as public holidays, would continue to cripple the business sector across Antigua and Barbuda.
“Businesses across Antigua and Barbuda continue to make a slow re-bound following the continued effects of the pandemic. With the news on the weekend of a lockdown in the United Kingdom, there have already been cancellations in the hospitality sector which will deal another blow to the sector. With lay-offs and reduced work hours looming yet again, a knock-on effect will reverberate to the other businesses across our twin island state,” they explained in the statement.