The Ministry of Labour provided updates on 1 year residential certificate policy, financial assistance and supplement unemployment benefit, and compliance with immigration law & policy
1 Year Residential Certificate Policy
The Government’s 1 Year Residential Certificate initiative, which invites individuals to work remotely from Bermuda has received a very positive response. To date we have received 73 applications. Unfortunately, we are receiving incomplete applications which cannot be processed. However, completed applications will be approved tomorrow, enabling persons to start the process of relocating to Bermuda over the next few weeks. The requirements are basic and I would implore all applicants to submit completed applications. It must be emphasized that applicants for the One Year Certificate must have the means to support themselves while working remotely, and cannot seek work in Bermuda.
Bermuda’s successful management of the Coronavirus pandemic and our COVID-19 testing regime places us in a unique competitive position to attract new residents to the island. The exposure and promotion of the 1 year residential certificate have led to interest in businesses seeking to relocate their entire operations to Bermuda. The Economic Development Department in the Cabinet Office is working with Bermuda Business Development Agency to provide advice and planning to the companies who are looking to relocate.
We have also had inquiries from ABIR about the relocation of some of their staff to the Island and will communicate directly how those plans can be executed.
Financial Assistance and Supplemental Unemployment Benefit
The COVID-19 crisis continues to negatively impact both our local and world economies. Bermuda has experienced a significant contraction of its labour force. During the peak of the State of Emergency, more than 10,000 persons found themselves either unable to work, laid off or unemployed.
Based on Government data from the Temporary Unemployment Benefit Database, as of yesterday August 5th, 2020:
There were more than 5,670 persons that had returned to work and therefore are no longer on the Temporary Unemployment Benefit;
There were roughly 4,682 that have not yet informed the Government that they have returned to work;
As of the end of next week, there will be roughly 900 persons who will still remain on the benefit
Of those who remain on the benefit next week, we expect that:
675 will be Bermudian;
36 will be Spouses of Bermudians;
10 will be Permanent Resident Certificate holders;
And 180 will be Work Permit holders
The Government announced that the temporary unemployment benefit which was introduced at the onset of the Pandemic will transition persons to either Financial Assistance or longer term unemployment support. The purpose of this transition is to ensure that persons who require ongoing assistance from Government receive the appropriate level of support based on their personal and family circumstances.
With the economic impact of the Pandemic continuing to affect many in Bermuda, there will be persons in our community who remain in need of assistance to obtain the basic necessities of life such as food, shelter, and health insurance. In order to be eligible for continued support, it is essential that persons who require ongoing support apply to Financial Assistance.
Many have asked why they should apply for financial assistance if they are not eligible, due to the fact that they own real estate. The answer is that the Financial Assistance application will also be used to determine eligibility for the new supplementary benefit, so it is important that all individuals who require ongoing support complete the Financial Assistance application process. To be clear, only Bermudians and Spouses of Bermudians will be eligible for further benefits.
The Department of Financial Assistance began issuing applications on the first floor of Global House, 43 Church Street, Hamilton to persons in need of additional support. Individuals unable to collect an application are reminded to contact the Department to make alternative arrangements. For additional information, persons can call the Department of Financial Assistance Hotline at 297 7867.
When filling out the application, the forms must be 100% completed for the applicant to be considered for assistance. Once all the required information is on the form, they must be submitted in the mailbox located on the first floor in Global House.
The financial assistance process is necessarily rigorous. All applications will be vetted and applicants notified accordingly. Should it be determined that you are approved to receive continued assistance, you will begin receiving the approved monthly award payments. Please note that the Financial Assistance program is mainly ‘cashless’ meaning that vendors are paid directly for and on behalf of the client.
Also as a reminder, financial aid given is only a temporary measure to support those in need. As such, individuals who are receiving benefits must immediately notify the Government when they commence any form of employment as they will no longer be eligible.
Compliance with Immigration Law & Policy
The Ministry of Labour wishes to remind Employers of their responsibilities toward employees as enshrined in the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act and the Work Permit Policy.
The Ministry is fully cognizant of the financial challenges facing many employers. However, it must be noted that unless there is a written, mutual agreement stating otherwise, it is the Employer’s responsibility to repatriate guest workers to their place of origin. Furthermore, if a work-permit holder has changed employers, it is the current employer’s responsibility to repatriate their workers. It should also be noted that an employee whose contract has been terminated due to the conditions set out in section 30 (3) of the Employment Act 2000 are entitled to redundancy pay.
Additionally, employers and employees are reminded that once an employment contract has been terminated or a Work Permit has not been renewed, there is no automatic right to reside and seek further employment in Bermuda. Individuals who wish to reside and seek employment must apply to the Department of Immigration for permission.
Guest workers should also be aware of their visa status (i.e. current or expired) and take the necessary steps to enable repatriation to their home countries. It is the responsibility of every individual to ensure their travel documents are in order well in advance of any need for overseas travel.
Lastly, if you think someone is illegally working, living, or employed in Bermuda, you should contact the Department of Immigration at https://www.doiapps.gov.bm/immigrationtips/ or by calling 441-296-5202.