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BCCI Asks not to pay Overtime for Holiday on Monday

Cabinet reaffirmed today that September 19 will be observed nationally as a public and bank holiday. This is the day of the State Funeral for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and coincides with National Service Day, which will be observed as a day of service.  This is a one-time statutory holiday and will not be on the schedule of holidays.  This morning we asked the Prime Minister, John Briceno if there is anticipation that the business community is not happy with this decision. Here is his response. 

John Briceño, Prime Minister: “And of course I do and that’s fine but the thing is that we reluctantly gave a holiday because The Queen has served Belize as its Queen for better for, I mean whether you like it or not, for 41 years and as a colony I think it was 39 years I think? Yeah so yeah. 29 years. That gives you 70 years that she has served while she was The Queen of England. We reluctantly gave the holiday because all the countries around us, including Australia and Canada have declared a holiday so it would have been seen as very disrespectful on our part if we have not declared a holiday. Ok?”

Love News has confirmed that the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, BCCI, wrote to the CEO of the Ministry of Labor, Valentino Shal. In the letter, BCCI President Marcello Blake asks CEO Shal that overtime pay on public and bank holidays be exempted for this unplanned and unscheduled holiday. The BCCI says that (quote) we recognize that the passing of the Head of State is truly unforeseen and, thus, the resultant one-time holiday is understandable. However, the abruptness is likely to catch employers to whom section 118 is applicable off guard and, thereby, shall levy upon them significant and unbudgeted payroll costs during a time when businesses are still in the recovery stage. (end of quote) In his response, CEO Shal tells Blake that his ministry must consult with Cabinet first. Shal however says (quote) Unfortunately, the minister is unable to consult with the relevant bodies within the timeframe and as a result, an Order under section 119 (2) to exempt September 19 2022, from section 118 of the Labor Act cannot be issued at this time. (end of quote)