Minister Encourages Employees “PANDEMIC LEAVE”

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As government prepares to facilitate internal movement by lifting the 24-hour curfew and
replacing it with a Night Curfew it was announced that school-age children in the Territory
will be remaining home as schools will not be reopening soon.
The announcement was made by both His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert and Premier
Hon. Andrew Fahie on 15 April during a territorial update on COVID-19.
Both leaders announced: “Cabinet also agreed that schools will remain closed to students, but
teachers may access schools to facilitate on-line instruction in a limited capacity. The
position on schools will be reviewed weekly by Cabinet as with all other measures.”
This announcement brought back some of the questions that were previously raised as it
relates to parents who will be going out to work with no one to care for their children at
home. However, the response to this concern according to Minister for Labour and
Immigration Hon. Vincent Wheatley is a special pandemic leave.
The pandemic leave is a mechanism that the Ministry of Labour has been encouraging and
promoting since the public precautionary steps to keep the BVI COVID-19 free commenced
and as a result schools were closed.
According to the Minister this leave is a special allowance that is separate from workers’
vacation and sick leave.
The most recent mention of this mechanism by Hon. Wheatley was during the 27 March sitting
of the House of Assembly. At that time the Labour Minister stated, “We are encouraging
persons/employers to institute Pandemic Leave and the funds should be paid according to
Pandemic Leave not vacation or sick day leave.”
The Minister described the Pandemic Leave as time away from work as a result of COVID-19,
and he noted that child care needs fits into this. “For example, if you are a parent and your
child have no other keeper but the parent, that is pandemic leave because of the curfew that
the government has instituted. We encourage the employers to create the pandemic leave,
we are asking them to create that,” Hon. Wheatley noted.

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