THE Ministry of Labour is embarking on a drive to clamp down foreign nationals working in Saint Lucia illegally.
It has been brought to the attention of the Labour Department, that there are individuals employed at various organizations here without a valid work permit.
The country`s labour legislation mandates that overseas nationals desirous of employment in Saint Lucia must first obtain a work permit or exemption where applicable.
According to the Labour Code (2006), Section 317 “Control of Employment” Subsection 2, “A person shall not have in his or her employment in Saint Lucia a foreign national without there being in force a valid work permit or an exemption for the requirement for a work permit pursuant to this Code or any other law in force in Saint Lucia in relation to that employment”.
Minister responsible for Labour Stephenson King says this notification serves as a warning to employers and employees engaged in illegal employment.
“The laws of Saint Lucia are clear when it comes to employment. We want people to adhere to the laws or face the penalties,” said King.
The ongoing drive is targeted at people who do not have the necessary documentation.
Employers and/or employees who are currently in contravention of the law are asked to visit the Labour Department at Barnard Hill to regularize their employment status urgently.
Failure to comply will result in the case being passed on to the Immigration Department for full enforcement of the law.
Employers and employees should note that a foreign national who engages in occupation in Saint Lucia or is employed in Saint Lucia in contravention of the law is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both. Should the offence continue, the convicted is liable to a further fine not exceeding five hundred dollars for each day the offence continues and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
The Labour Minister said government will do what is necessary to ensure that Labour laws are upheld.
King said to achieve a level of organization and improvement to productivity and competiveness in the Labour market, government was committed to reviewing existing labour laws this year through social partnership.