A taskforce has been appointed by the Ministry of Finance to recommend amendments to contracts the government has with security firms, to ensure that guards are treated as employees and not contract workers.
This following a ruling by the Supreme Court last September.
The government has some 500 contracts for security guard services.
Speaking at a meeting in Kingston this afternoon (January 19), Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke said the task force will be chaired by former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Livingston Morrison.
Dr. Clarke said the taskforce will have a maximum of 100 days to recommend the amendments, and the new contracts will take effect on April 1.
He said the amendments will not be limited to rates.
Noting that the government is security firms’ biggest client, Dr. Clarke said the administration is leading by example.
He is urging private firms engaging the services of security companies to follow the government’s example and ensure security guards are treated as employees.
He said those who do not make this recognition after a period of time, should be named and shamed.
Meantime, the Jamaica Society of Industrial Security, JSIS, has welcomed the government’s intent to allow for continuity of agreements, even as the parties work through the details of adjusting the employment status of guards.
JSIS President Lieutenant Commander George Overton was reacting to an announcement by Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke, in Kingston, today.
The minister had given a policy address relating to the government’s contracted security guard services with private security firms.
Following a recent court ruling that guards are employees, not independent contractors, operators of private security firms expressed concern about a potential fall out, if clients were not able to pay more for services; the government is the largest client of private security services.
Lieutenant Commander Overton said the Finance Minister’s assurance of contract continuity is a step in the right direction.
He however noted that, while the public sector may be able to adjust, clients in the private sector may have challenges with higher rates for security services.