The Labour Department has stopped issuing new work permits for non-nationals since many locals have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re already seeing increased numbers of persons registering at the One Stop Employment Centre and it is our expectation that with time you will have more persons seeking employment,” Labour Commissioner Eltonia Anthony-Rojas said on state media this week.
“We are actually not accepting new applications because of the unemployment situation that we are facing right now.”
Anthony-Rojas said the department will continue to examine the merits of issuing new permits.
She said because of the current situation “the expectation is persons who would normally not accept certain jobs will be inclined, in order to keep food on the table, to accept certain jobs.”
The Labour Commissioner said she anticipates a shifting in the employment dynamics where “areas in which traditionally we’ve even had work permits holders occupying, we will have a greater demand, for persons who do not require work permit, for those jobs.”
She said she believed this redistribution of jobs may lead to “some persons relocating, be it nationals relocating elsewhere, whether temporarily or permanently, or non-nationals relocating to other places as well.”
While the department is still accepting applications for work permit renewals, if the applicant has been laid off the employer must be “able to tell us that there is a reasonable expectation for the person to return to work,” Anthony-Rojas said.
She cautioned applicants should collect their work permits immediately after being notified of approval.
“Within a two week period and those work permits are not collected, we ask the employer to re-advertise the vacancy cause it may mean there may be a national available to fill that vacancy and so we are constantly pushing to see whether or not there are persons who do not require work permit and are willing to take up the job,” she explained.