‘Grace period’ for employers to file for workers’ permits

‘Grace period’ for employers to file for workers’ permits

PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Justice Anna Richardson revealed on Wednesday that there is a covenant between three ministries enabling business owners “to do the right thing by their employees”, referring to loyal workers who have not obtained legal status despite years of service to companies.

Richardson said that the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA, the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) and the Ministry of Justice are granting business owners “sort of a grace period.”
“What we see at the Immigration Department a lot is persons bringing in job letters for companies that they have been working at for many years, but that are refusing to file for them,” Richardson explained. “So the Minister and I,” she said, referring to VSA Minister Omar Ottley, who is also acting TEATT Minister, “and our teams have been working diligently to bring forward pilot programs, so to speak, where we want to be able to give a grace period to these companies to do the right thing by their employees.”
Richardson said, “We have a lot of people within our community who want to do right, who are doing right, but have experienced certain challenges like employers who refuse to file for them.”
The basis to apply for a residence permit, she said, “is to be able to show self-sustainability, which means you have to prove you have income, and to have legal income you have to have a work permit.”
Ottley and Richardson are trying “to bridge the gap” for persons with a long work history in St. Maarten who have not yet managed to obtain legal status. “(Soon) we will bring a proposal to the Council of Ministers for approval,” Richardson said, “and then the pilot programme will be launched.”

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