THE AXLE 

FOR EMPLOYERS  / CLIENTS OF CATALYST 


Passport Delays / No. of  Applications Spike

4 May 2022

Per the story that appeared in today's RG, BOTC passports are taking up to 11 weeks for processing - both initials and renewals. (We are seeing longer periods actually).      Here is the story:   


"...A surge of passport applications and delays overseas means that Bermudian applicants face a longer wait, the Government said today.     A spokesman for the Department of Immigration said that the UK Government had confirmed that those who are attempting to obtain Bermuda Overseas Territories Citizen passports can expect delays of up to 11 weeks.  The spokesman added: “Due to the pandemic and the period of restrictive travel, applications for BOTC Bermuda passports were extremely low.   “Over the past few months, the volume of applications has quadrupled.    “Following a recent spike in clients reporting long wait times to renew passports, the department contacted the UK authorities, who unfortunately confirmed the 11-week time frame.  “If a passport is reported lost or stolen, the processing time is likely to be in excess of 11 weeks.”

The spokesman highlighted that Bermuda passports are not approved, printed or issued in Bermuda and that all applications are sent to the UK Government, who are responsible for the process.

“While the department will continue to accept and send passport applications to the UK, the length of time for passports to be returned is outside of the department’s control,” he added.

The spokesman said that BOTC Bermuda passport holders should not book travel unless they have a valid passport.  He added: “Generally, passports with a validity of six months or more may be used for travel before there is a requirement to apply for a new passport.  “You can apply for a new passport at any time before the expiration of your existing passport.   “Strict guidelines apply for the processing of temporary passports in cases of emergency.”


If you need your passport renewed, please see Surlena of our Hamilton office to get things started.   Submit your information digitally here:  https://www.catalystbermuda.com/botc-passport-application  then, get 2 passport pics and call her for an appointment for drop off.  We will take care of the rest. But it will take 12 -16 weeks.   Emergency Applications for medical purposes only.    Cost:   $179 for DOI Fee;    $200 for TCG Administration.     




Economy shrinks by 6.9% in 2020 

28 November 2021

Certainly not unexpected.  The economy in 2020 shrunk by 6.9% though we appreciate that our trade sectors are operating at full capacity and struggling to keep up . GDP fell by 6.9% where 13 of the 19 sectors recorded negative growth thanks principally to Covid 19.      Overall, inflation was flat ie. prices were actually down .5% across the board.   The main points: 

  • People earned less:   Gross National Income was down 6.2% (income of the working population)
  • People are saving less; savings were down 3.2%
  • People giving less - Charities / Non Profits lost 15% of revenue 
  • Hospitality (Restaurants and Accommodations:   Down 60%
  • Arts, Entertainment & Recreation:  Down 33%
  • Transportation & Storage:  Down 22% 
  • Construction & Quarrying:  Down 24% - back at 2017 levels
  • Retail / Wholesale:  Flat
  • International Business:    Up 1%   (largest contributor to GDP, at 27%)
  • Real  Estate Activities:   Flat
  • Administrative / Support Services (Travel agencies, tour operator, bike rentals, security services, landscaping):  Down 20%
  • Households as Employers (use of nannies / housekeepers):  Down 21%

Takeways?   Construction, Landscaping - down more than 20% .    International business and real estate: flat.    And retail sales, despite the growing number of shut storefronts throughout the island, the retail sector is showing as treading water / flat.   While apparel sales on island might be down,  people are buying more food  and alcohol and are shopping online.    Sales of specialty items seem to be growth areas, but that's purely anecdotal.    While  output  in our main business sectors is down, demand for skilled resources remains very, very strong.      For many of our clients, business recovery and growth is significantly frustrated by the inability to find the people needed and the slow processing times at the Department of Immigration.


Read the full 2020 GDP Report (Published by the Department of Statistics)



Further Strengthening of Workplace Protections 

28 November 2021

On  Friday,  26 November, 2021, the Labour Minister, Jason Hayward gave detail to the work of the Labour Advisory Council (LAC).  The LAC was formed under recent changes to the Employment Act, and seeks to improve industrial relations, make recommendations for legislative amendments, worker policies and standards.    Its work will commence in January 2022.    It looks like the LAC will first make further amendments to the Employment Act.  Certain expected changes:   1) advanced notification to government where 20+ employees are expected to be terminated;    2) definitions / constraints / conditions around layoff periods;    3) publication of employment standards - where all work permit holders made aware of their rights and obligations under the Act and who they may contact for assistance and 4) wage theft protections - which will ensure that employees are paid for all hours worked, that overtime is covered fully, tips to employees and ensuring that deductions are properly forwarded to Social Insurance, Health, & Payroll Tax. 


The LAC will also provide guidance to industry / workers relevant to the status of the "independent contractor.  The Ministry reports that  it has received some complaints from workers / members of the public pertaining to unfair contractual terms and employment contracts that seem to take advantage of the current economic climate in Bermuda.   The LAC will issue guidance for the purpose of determining whether an employment relationship more closely resembles that of an employee than an independent contractor.   The Ministry has already floated an awareness campaign on FaceBook providing such guidance to employers and employees.   Where the revisions to the Employment Act enacted in June 2021 requires that all employees / workers have some form of contract which outlines the responsibilities of both parties, we would encourage each employer to have in place an agreement signed off by both parties which outlines expectations and responsibilities.   Call us if you assistance in drafting template agreements (available in Portuguese and Tagalog).   




Vaccination for Work Permit Holders & Newest Covid 19 Mutation

28 November 2021

Cayman, Turks and Caicos and a number of jurisdictions to our South have required that all work permit holders be fully vaccinated.  While local authorities have not mandated that wp holders in Bermuda be vaccinated, this is an ongoing topic of discussion and we would encourage that this message be shared with workers.   It may be, particularly as this newest strain leaves South Africa, that the government moves to make it mandatory that work permit holders are vaccinated.   Where we note that travellers from certain parts have been banned entry into the UK and Jamaica, as of this morning, we might see similar restrictions come into play locally.  We will have to watch this newest mutation very carefully.  

Work Permit Moratorium Relaxed

28 November 2021

The work permit moratorium which was effected in the Fall of 2020 has been recently relaxed.    Though our trades categories such as -  Carpenters, Landscape Gardeners, Waiters / Servers, Electricians, Plumbers, & Masons - remain on the restricted list, we can make application for new / initial workers but all such permits shall be issued for 1 year terms (subject to renewal in 1 year) where we have to complete a fairly robust process with the Department of Workforce Development.         The challenge for those of you who need to bring in new workers are as follows:  1) make sure the applicant can get a visa in proper order to able to leave their country and transit through the gateway countries in order to get to Bermuda,    2) make sure your workers are vaccinated with a vaccine that is recognised by the Ministry of Health to avoid a costly quarantine in Bermuda and 3) keep accurate recruitment records to support your hiring practices, if ever challenged.   Be aware of what your industry's ratios are so that your company's make up is what as can be reasonably accepted.     See latest government release here.

DOI Processing Times / Landing Permits

28 November 2021

The Department of Immigration is now processing submissions of late July / August.    Where a compliant application was filed, your workers can continue to work without interruption or penalty.  Where your worker is travelling home for Christmas and does not have his renewed work permit card,  he will need a landing permit to return.  We cannot know when the final approval and card will be issued.   The cost of the landing permit is $63.     Processing time is 5-8 business days.   Should file this week if one is required.    Please email Surlena Smith at [email protected] to confirm that one has been filed or if you need assistance preparing it.   Will need the intended travel dates of your worker.