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JSIS awaiting gov't response on implications of status change for security guards

 
Discussions are taking place within government on the implications that the change in status of private security guards will have on the operations of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
 
The Jamaica Society for Industrial Security (JSIS) met last week with Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Ministers of National Security, Finance and Labour to outline the challenges that security companies will face in meeting their payroll and proposals to soften the effect.
 
In an interview with Radio Jamaica News on Monday, President of JSIS, Lieutenant Commander George Overton, said the group is now awaiting a response from the government regarding its policy position on the standards that will be upheld going forward. 
 
Commander Overton said the concern is high among clients whom the JSIS have been engaging in discussions since the September 23 Supreme Court ruling involving Marksman and the National Housing Trust. 
 
"Some of the companies have started negotiations, some have sent notifications sensitising to the impact of the change and are now getting ready to get into the one-on-one discussions on it. This is a very lengthy process but the clock has been running on us since the 23rd of September," he said. 
 
The Jamaica Society for Industrial Security has said a fallout from the current situation in the industry could be an increase in unregulated companies.
 
Director at JSIS, Major Richard Reece, said these informal operators do not pay the minimum wage and more companies could follow suit due to the inability to meet their financial obligations.
 
Major Reece said this possible "shift from a formal system to a more informal system" will also translate to a loss of revenue for the government.
 
Security guard satisfied
 
At least one security guard is satisfied with the recent court ruling that has changed her status from independent contractor to employee.
 
Speaking with Radio Jamaica News on condition of anonymity, the guard outlined that as an independent contractor, she had only been entitled to five days of sick leave with pay while there was no pay for vacation leave. 
 
"The only time you get a double pay is when you work on holidays," she told Radio Jamaica News
 
The guard admitted, however, that she does not quite understand all the benefits that will come with her new status.
 
Speaking at a press conference last Friday, President of JSIS, Lieutenant Commander George Overton, said security companies have been operating on the independent contract system for the last 35 years. Under that system, security officers had been treated as self-employed persons who worked 12 hour shifts, 60 hours per week.
 
This, he said, will now have to be changed to 40 hours of work per five-day week, with eight hours being the maximum per day.
 
Guards will have to be paid the overtime rate on any work done in excess of 40 hours. 
 
They are also now be entitled to paid vacation leave as well as 10 days paid sick leave. 
 
In addition, security companies will need to consider issues such as notice pay redundancy, and where guards once contributed to the cost of their uniforms, that cost will now solely be borne by their employers. 
 
JSIS has indicated that the cost of security services has increased by almost 50 per cent since the court ruling.
 


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