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Consultation on Policy Regulating Employment in Ascension

19 January 2021

Council, Government

Four week public consultation begins

As members of the public may already be aware, the AIG has been developing a new policy concerning the regulation of employment in Ascension. This is the first significant attempt at reform of employment regulation since the introduction of the Workman’s Protection Ordinance, 1926 (WPO).

As can be expected, the WPO is outdated, no longer reflects the reality of employment in Ascension, and has a number of limitations and shortcomings. Taken in combination, this results in lack of clarity within the employment market, leading to undesirable outcomes for both employees and employers.

In order to seek to address this, officers from AIG and the elected members of the Ascension Island Council formed the Employment Reform Working Group (ERWG) in the late part of 2019. The ERWG has been tasked with identifying key issues in the employment market that require addressing and to propose policy options by which to address these so that Ascension has a modern framework of employment regulation which works effectively for both employees and employers.

The new draft policy which has been developed is the output of the ERWG’s work to date. As part of this process AIG is now seeking views from the public on this policy during a four week consultation period.

Copies of the policy are available from the Administrator’s Office in Georgetown, or on the AIG website.

This is not a final policy document and it will be subject to further refinement in response to feedback provided during this consultation.

In order to maintain progress in the development and implementation of this policy, responses to this consultation should be submitted by email to no later than Monday 15 February 2021.

Once responses have been received and considered, further amendments may be made to the policy before it is taken before the Island Council of Ascension for consideration and a recommendation for approval to the Governor sought. If recommended to the Governor, AIG will then begin the process of developing legislation to implement the approved policy later in the year.

AIG encourage all members of the public to familiarise themselves with the policy and provide feedback during this consultation period.

This will be the first major reform of employment regulation in Ascension for over 90 years and provides an opportunity for members of the public to have their views and concerns reflected in the future regulatory framework.

What is in the new policy?

Although elements of the new policy seek to codify and regulate what are already common employment practices within the market, it also recognises that any new policy concerned with regulating the employment market has to take account of Ascension’s unique circumstances.

The policy recognises that there is no right of abode in Ascension, and as such it covers a number of issues that may not usually be addressed in employment regulation elsewhere in the world.

It ensures employers are responsible for the basic welfare needs of their employees (and accompanying dependants) and contractors. It also recognises that contracts of employment must be limited in length, even though individuals may be employed by the same employer on a series of separate but successive contracts, or may move between employers, and thereby remain employed on the island for a number of years.

The policy also makes provision regarding dismissal of employees, seeking to balance the interests of employers and the interests of their employees, ensuring that employers continue to have the ability to manage their workforces whilst obliging them to treat employees openly and fairly in doing so.