The Chambers of Commerce are supporting the move by the Government for employers to put measures in place for workers in the midst of the spread of COVID-19.

The Joint Chambers issued the following statement on Sunday.

“The Joint Chambers fully support the sentiments expressed at this morning’s press conference by the Minister of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprises.

We commend the Minister and the Government for taking proactive steps to address this unprecedented threat to the people of Trinidad & Tobago.

The Joint Chambers fully support the calls from the Minister of Labour for all employers to put in place measures to encourage home working wherever possible.

Many of our member companies have already instituted home working policies and other measures to promote social distancing and intensified hygiene controls in the workplace. We encourage all citizens to take these measures very seriously. Lives depend on it.

The Joint Chambers have noted the guidelines proposed by the Minister of Labour. We look forward to discussing the details of these guidelines with the Government and Trade Union representatives at the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) in the coming days.

We support the call of the Minister of Labour for all employers to be compassionate and to, as far as reasonably possible, grant appropriate leave to employees with unexpected childcare obligations and any employee who needs to be self isolated.

The specific form of leave will need to be discussed by employers and employees and in some cases their representatives, taking into account the specific circumstances of each company and each case. These measures will inevitably have significant effects on the economy and on privatesector companies, at a time when intense forex shortages and crippling low commodity prices already have the economy under significant strain.

Many companies, in particular small businesses, will find it very difficult to meet payroll costs in a time when their revenue will be under unprecedented pressure. Urgent measures will need to be put in place to help businesses through this very difficult period. The Joint Chambers look forward to discussing these measures further with the Government and other stakeholders.”