Ombudsman will investigate Dismissal Committee actions

PHILIPSBURG–Ombudsman Nilda Arduin has started a systematic investigation into the procedures applied by the Dismissal Advisory Committee and the decision-making process of the Ministry of Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Secretary-General when faced with dismissal requests submitted by employers after Hurricane Irma.

Preliminary research and queries by the Ombudsman into applicable procedures suggest that the Rule of Order as required by law, and other possible policies and procedures regarding the functioning of the Dismissal Advisory Committee are not in place. As such the complaint filed warrants a thorough investigation.
Sparking the investigation was a complaint filed with the Ombudsman by a lawyer on October 2 against the VSA Labour Department regarding the composition of the members of the Dismissal Advisory Committee in handling a dismissal request submitted for his client, and the subsequent decision of the Secretary General.
The complaint summary cited that employees or former employees of the employer requesting permission to lay off one of its employees should not be allowed to participate in the process as members of the Committee, “as such is biased and leads to unbalanced and biased decisions.”
The Secretary-General’s decision should at all times be sufficiently motivated regarding the advice received from the Committee, the complaint summary cited.
The complainant further alleged that the Committee consisted of two former employees and one current employee of the establishment at the time of submitting the request for dismissal of one of its employees.
According to the complainant, these persons were highly critical of the employer in the meeting and allegedly repeatedly referred to (negative) personal experiences with the employer in the past, clearly showing a high level of bias.
Considering that the core of the complaint filed is of general interest to the public, more so as an increase of dismissal requests to the Labour Department are expected in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Ombudsman has resolved to conduct a systematic investigation into the composition of the Committee and application of the law to prevent possible bias, the application of an advice provided by the Committee in the Secretary-General’s decision-making process regarding a request to dismiss an employee, and the motivation of a decision providing permission (or not) for an employee’s dismissal.
With the many issues facing the people as all grapple to recover from the many blows caused by the recent hurricanes, transparency and fairness, among other things, are key to build trust in Government entities and the systems the law provides.
In the general interest of the people, the Ombudsman and the Bureau therefore prepare to engage various systematic investigations to promote proper application of and compliance with the law by Government. The public is encouraged to do their part in helping to promote good governance and file their complaints with the Ombudsman.

Source: The Daily Herald