The Department of Labour was established under the Labour Act, Chapter 98:01: (No. 2 of 1942) to regulate the relationship between employers and employees and for the settlement of differences between them.
The Department was first established in 1942 following the recommendation of a Royal Commission under Lord Moyne, which was appointed in 1938 to investigate and report on the labour and social conditions in the British West Indian colonies, including British Guiana.
The Commission reported that the conditions were difficult for workers who were virtually unprotected and hence, the Commission recommended the enactment of labour laws. The Labour Ordinance (Labour Act) of British Guiana was consequently enacted in 1942 and provided for the establishment of the Labour Department under a Commissioner of Labour (now Chief Labour Officer).
The Labour Act of 1942 also speaks about the functions of the Department, the statutory responsibility of the Chief Labour Officer and the Permanent Secretary; makes provisions for conciliation in industrial disputes; defines the powers of the Minister to intervene in trade disputes, and to establish advisory committees; procedures for the regulation of wages and hours of work; rights and obligations of employees; and the status and enforceability of collective agreement.
The Labour Department has responsibility for industrial relations, and occupational health and safety.
What we do at the Department of Labour
- Draft new legislation; review and amend existing legislation; and recommend same to government;
- Review in conjunction with the National Tripartite Committee, rates of wages, hours of work and other conditions of service for various categories of workers;
- Investigate workplace accidents and complaints made by workers;
- Inspecting workplaces to ensure compliance with the labour and occupational safety and health laws and regulations;
- Advise and conduct seminars to educate employers and employees on the labour and occupational safety and health laws and regulations, HIV/AIDS workplace policy and industrial relations principles and practices;
- Conciliate in disputes between employers and trade unions;
- Establish and service arbitration tribunals;
- Conduct membership surveys and polls to determine trade union recognition;
- Facilitate and promote collective bargaining and vet and sign Collective Labour Agreements;
- Register industrial establishments;
- Register steam boilers' inspection certificates;
- Promote the establishment of and monitor the functioning of Joint Workplace Safety and Health Committees;
- Liaise with Regional and International Organizations;
- Prepare and submit International Labour Organisation's (ILO's) Instruments to the National Assembly;
- Prepare and submit to ILO, Annual Reports on application of Convention and other requested data.
- Promote social dialogue/social partnership;
- Facilitate the promotion of programs to enhance production and productivity.
How to report an industrial accident
Employers are mandated by law to report an industrial accident within four days of its occurrence and fatalities immediately to the Ministry of Labour. These incidents could be called into the Ministry, but must be followed by the completion of the accident form. (we will post the form on the website) and call.
How to make a work-related complaint
Persons desirous of making complaints about their working conditions, remuneration, benefits, perceived discrimination and any other work-related issues, can do so by visiting the Ministry's offices in Georgetown, Essequibo and Berbice. (these will be linked to the addresses)