BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, March 23, 2021 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – With an unprecedented number of claims being made against the Severance Payment Fund in the last year alone, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is taking active steps to make the processing of these claims more efficient.
Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, while speaking at his monthly press conference on March 23, 2021, said the concerns of many regarding delays in the processing of their severance claims have been discussed at length by his Government at recent Cabinet meetings.
The reasons advanced by the Labour Commissioner for the delays include the unprecedented number of persons, some 2,839 persons, who have submitted severance claims as a result of COVID-19. Moreover, the unprecedented volume of records to be processed, the failure of employers to paying their contributions to the Severance Fund and discrepancy in data were identified as the other reasons for the delays.
“At yesterday’s meeting of the Cabinet, it was decided to expedite processing of claims by recruiting additional workers on a temporary basis. An additional work shift will also be implemented, and further support will be made available to the Labour Department. We have determined that notwithstanding the practice of not giving support to claims for which no payment had been made into the fund, the Government out of compassion would honour all claims even where the employer has not paid over his/her contribution to the Severance Fund,” Prime Minister Harris said.
Accordingto the prime minister, there are millions of dollars outstanding as a result of unpaid contributions to the Severance Fund by employers. He said, “The Social Security Board will however commence legal action against delinquent employers. I want to encourage those delinquent employers to make payment plans with Social Security and save themselves the embarrassment and expense of a court trial.”
Dr. Harris added that his Government will also “provide an advance payment to persons whose claims have not yet been processed to allow them to meet their most urgent needs.”
Thelatest figures show that the Federal Government has paid out $23.8 million in severance payments to date.