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  3. Bermuda Labour Minister Hints At Fast Track Work Permits For 'Good' Corporate Citizens

Bermuda Labour Minister Hints At Fast Track Work Permits For 'Good' Corporate Citizens

Matthew Taylor, Royal Gazette

11 December 2000


This story is reproduced by kind permission of the Royal Gazette at http://www.accessbda.bm

Fast track work permit approvals are on the cards for model employers.

But last week Labour and Home Affairs Minister Paula Cox warned that companies caught bending the rules will find it hard going in getting work permits for overseas staff approved quickly.

Addressing the AGM of the Employers Council yesterday, Paul Cox said some firms were failing to even respond to Bermudian job seekers while handing out jobs to expatriates, while others were falsely claiming no suitably qualified locals had applied.

She said: "These types of practices are totally unacceptable.

"It also means that future applications from your company will be looked at more closely than applications from those companies that we can trust to make certain assumptions because they are good corporate citizens." But she said: "We are looking at ways to provide a mechanism to deal with applications on an expedited basis, whether by approvals in principle or by expediting those businesses who have meaningful training programmes and/or have demonstrable track records in addressing the legitimate expectations of Bermudians."

And she revealed a raft of new measures to improve her department's work permit service.

She said officials now phone businesses when permits have got the green light to save companies making endless calls.

"The department has introduced expedited applications that make it possible to fast track temporary work permits to employers who had made applications for longer term work permits, but had an immediate need to get that staff member in as soon as possible."

A website will allow companies to monitor the progress of work permits while new-style forms will be more user-friendly.

However, she said this depended on getting a new computer system which the minister hopes will download applications and payments electronically as well as produce credit card size permits and use electronic imaging to replace paper files.

A reorganisation of the work permit department will see three teams being set up to handle different sectors of the workforce. One team will handle financial services and one will handle personal services including hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, cleaning and landscaping.

A third team will handle Government and other industries including schools, medical professions, construction and charities.

The minister said: "These teams, once set up, will also meet periodically with customers to review requirements and to find out what can be done to effect improvement in the process."

New training will sharpen up how immigration staff respond to customers. She said: "Eventually these systems will be made available to you on the website so that you will not need to call the Department."

But she said sloppy form filling by the employers also slowed up the process.

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