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State to provide unemployment allowance for people losing jobs over pandemic

Shahudha Mohamed
02 April 2020, MVT 10:38
Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer speaking at a press briefing. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
02 April 2020, MVT 10:38

Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer announced on Wednesday night that the state was "in discussions" to provide a special allowance for individuals that are losing jobs due to the economic regression caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a special session of the daily press conference held in Dharubaaruge, the minister noted that the proposed three-month allowance would be granted under the state's stimulus package.

"Discussions are currently ongoing. God willing, we will be disclosing details during the upcoming week", Minister Ameer said.

The minister further condemned employers that were terminating jobs, reducing wages and forcing employees to accept unpaid leave, stating that all businesses should act in accordance with the law.

He also iterated his previously delivered statement, stressing that the stimulus packages were intended to avoid the loss of jobs in every sector and that employers who were reported to be mistreating their staff would not be in the receiving line for the state-distributed financial aid.

Thus far, 292 individuals have reported their terminations to the job centre established by the government.

Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) noted that over 11,000 employees are being forced to go on no-pay leaves by their managements, as resorts across the country stop operations. This matter has been brought to the attention of relevant authorities.

In addition, Labour Authority also released a statement declaring that some resorts were firing employees in violation of the Employment Act. The authority requested all companies to follow the legal procedures in terminating employee contracts even in these trying times.

According to a legal expert that spoke to The Edition, employers do not have the legal right to unilaterally decide on a deduction of workers’ basic salary to an amount below the figure mutually agreed upon in their employment contracts, or amend the legally mandated allowances.

Similarly, the source added that employees could not be forced to take unpaid leaves without their consent. Both parties must be in mutual agreement before an action undetermined by the law, such as unpaid leave, is enforced with binding effect.

Top lawyers in the country have urged all employees facing redundancy to take note of the circumstances and reasoning under which they are terminated.

Additionally, they advised employees, both local and expatriate, not to hesitate in approaching the Employment Tribunal should they feel like they have been wronged, particularly in the case of redundancy, where certain conditions must be met and procedures undertaken.

If an employee is mistreated by the management, is unlawfully fired or forced to go on no-pay leave, they are encouraged to report it to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

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