Not all government employees will get $1,400 lump sum payment

Not all public servants will receive the $1,400 lump sum payment promised by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Minister of National Insurance and Public Service Brensil Rolle said yesterday it was the government’s intention to pay all 22,000 public service employees, including those who are not permanent or pensionable, a lump sum payment of $1,400 yesterday.

The minister told The Nassau Guardian that while that did not happen, the government is in the process of determining exactly who was not paid in an effort to pay them.

However, he called back a short time later after he received an update from the Ministry of Finance as to who Cabinet agreed would be paid, and it is not all government workers.

He said the lump sum payments will be paid to members of the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU); teachers; permanent employees who are paid weekly; members of the uniformed branches (police, customs, defense force, immigration, etc); and Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) staff, including doctors and nurses (does not include consultant doctors).

He also indicated who will not be paid: other government authorities and corporations; members of the Judicial Branch; contract workers hired outside the Public Service Commission; 52-week program employees; air traffic controllers; ministers and members of Parliament.

Rolle added that the exercise cost $30 million.

The Guardian called Rolle after PHA Deputy Managing Director Lyrone C. Burrows wrote to the Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) on Thursday informing them that junior doctors who are not permanent and pensionable will not receive the lump sum payment.

The letter further indicated that, “due to the tight time frames involved in completing this transaction, the PHA is unable to conduct a full assessment of each junior doctor to determine whether there is a need for prorating any of the gross amount awarded”.

“As a result, it is the PHA’s intention to make full payments of $1,400 to each eligible staff, then conduct a review in early January 2020 with a view to recouping any over-payments in a one-time claw-back.”

However, when contacted yesterday, Burrows said that the government has instructed that all junior doctors be paid the entire lump sum, which he said should happen over the coming days.

He also confirmed that there will be no “claw-back” for any doctor in this instance.

When asked about the matter yesterday, Minnis said he wasn’t sure how the distribution was done.

“When I spoke, I have spoken multiple times about who will get the payout – nurses, doctors, immigration, defense force, police force and I think detention overseers,” Minnis said.

“That remains firm.”

Asked whether contract workers will also receive payouts, Minnis said he wasn’t sure exactly how the process will work.

“I don’t know exactly how they did the distribution, but I clarified which ones were getting it and that was done.”

BDU President Dr. Melisande Bassett said yesterday that the events surrounding the lump sum payments were unfortunate.

“These events, in my opinion, add to the list of actions on the part of PHA that have been cold and callous toward the members of the BDU,” she said in a statement.

“This is Christmas, a time for giving and brotherly love.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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