PHILIPSBURG–The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA put a new policy into effect on February 7 to undertake efforts by employers to fill vacancies with suitable candidates from the St. Maarten market.
According to the VSA Ministry, as per article 6 paragraph 1 of the National Ordinance on Employment of Foreigners the Minister can impose conditions to an employment permit pertaining to the efforts that must be exercised by an employer to fill vacancies with suitable candidates from the local St. Maarten market.
“The aftermath of Hurricane Irma has seen many foreigners employed with companies in St. Maarten. In addition, several companies even 2½ years after Hurricane Irma are still continuously filing for labour permit renewals for foreign employees,” the ministry said.
The ministry said the objective of the policy is to create a balanced and transparent system, with the requisite checks and balances, to safeguard that employers comply with their legal obligation to make the requisite efforts to fill their vacancies first with suitable candidates in St. Maarten, before contracting foreign employment.
“Unemployment remains alarmingly high in St. Maarten. This, even though various occupations of the growing pool of registered jobless persons match the vacancies posted by employers in St. Maarten,” the ministry said.
“This necessitates further objective restructuring of the requirements of employers to, within the vacancy time period, strive as much as possible to fill their vacancies with registered or unregistered jobseekers in St. Maarten.”
According to the ministry, within the policy certain criteria will be applied to the requirement that employers as per article 6, paragraph 2 of the National Ordinance on Labour of Foreigners, “exercise efforts in filling vacancies with jobless persons in the local St. Maarten market.”
As stipulated in the policy, employers will have to closely work together with designated representatives of the National Employment Service Centre to fill all possible vacancies as much as possible with suitable jobless persons in St. Maarten. This means that employers, whenever they have a vacancy, will have to request and obtain a list of suitable candidates from the National Employment Service Centre.
Employers will have to hold interviews with the candidates presented by the National Employment Service Centre prior to filing an application for a work permit for a foreign national. These interviews must be held in the presence of a designated representative of the National Employment Service Centre. These interviews will be scheduled together with the employers and the National Employment Service Centre.
A ledger of all interviews held will be kept by the National Employment Service Centre. The dates on which the interviews were held, names of all participants and possible special observations or remarks will also be documented.
“Within ultimately one week after all potential candidates referred by the National Employment Service Centre to the employer have been interviewed, the National Employment Service Centre will send a copy of the ledger to the employer,” it was stated in the policy.
According to the policy, within four weeks after each interview, employers will have to inform the National Employment Service Centre whether the interviewed candidate is a match, or not, and whether a job offer has been made and accepted. Rejections by employers of interviewed candidates must be adequately motivated by the same employer.
The National Employment Service Centre can, at its sole discretion, decide to compel an employer to conduct a follow-up meeting to discuss the findings of the employer and the decision to employ an interviewed candidate or not. Noncompliance by an employer with the criteria set for what constitutes efforts for filing vacancies for foreign nationals can constitute a ground for rejection of labour permit applications filed, according to the policy.
According to the ministry, this policy will not apply to all applications for work permits submitted on or before Monday, February 3. The policy will remain in effect until further notice.