Labor Inspectors can conduct inspections but not initiate penalties – US Department report
Kaieteur News – The US State Department’s 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Guyana has highlighted that while labor inspectors have the authority to conduct unannounced inspections, there is no authority to initiate sanctions when a defaulter is discovered.
Covering the country’s “acceptable working conditions,” the report noted that the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security was responsible for labor law enforcement, but the number of inspectors was insufficient for effective enforcement. It must be noted that Guyana now has a Ministry of Labor to implement that mandate, but before August 2020, that was the responsibility of the Ministry of Human Services. In addition, Guyana’s ‘Labor inspectors’ are formally referred to as labor officers.
Section 34 of the Labor Act outlines, “Any officer in the Department of Labor designated for the purposes of this section by the Minister (referred to in this section as a designated officer) is empowered and authorized— (a) whenever he or she has reasonable cause to believe that labor is employed on any premises, to enter, inspect and inspect those premises and all parts thereof at any hour of the day or night. either during the day or in the evening, and to obtain and require information from any employer as to the salaries, hours and working conditions of those so employed. “
It also states that a labor officer may accompany a member of the police force if he or she has reasonable cause to hold any serious obstruction in the performance of his duty and to carry out any examination, test or inquiry which he considers necessary to satisfy himself. that the provisions of any law relating to the employment of persons are strictly followed.
Labor Minister Joseph Hamilton had recently revealed that labor law defaulters are dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court and also admitted that the current fines for breaching labor legislation are “useless.” However, he noted that he was determined to impose significant fines. This will be done in the new labor legislation that is currently in the drafting process, he said.
Hamilton had said that in the case of people being brought to court for a breach and being ordered by a judge, which they are failing to adhere to, he is currently seeking guidance on whether labor officers can return them to court and have a contempt order filed against them, since labor officials cannot impose sanctions themselves. That will be a custodial sentence for throwing the court order. Custodial sentencing is a judicial sentence that imposes penalties, including the mandatory custody of the convicted person; meanwhile, non-custodial sentencing sees discharges, fines and community orders.
The report also outlined, “Labor inspections carried out during the year targeted all sectors, including agriculture, mining and construction. The ministry’s follow-up of labor inspection findings varied, and employer compliance was also inconsistent. ”