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posted 14 Mar 2018, 12:17 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Mar 2018, 01:41 ]
Question: What is the difference between the bandits who pulled off the daylight robbery at RT Jewellers on High Street in San Fernando and the management of Cadel Trading/Francis Fashion Shoe Locker? (download video at bottom of page).

Answer: The former wear three quarter pants; the latter wear jacket and tie. The former stole from the private sector and exposed the customers to danger. The latter withheld workers’ NIS contributions from the National Insurance Board (NIB) and exposed the twenty five dismissed workers to the danger of having no access to National Insurance benefits.

Of the twenty five workers dismissed by Cadel Trading, two have had their national insurance premiums paid up to the end of 2017. The last payments to the National Insurance for the twenty three others were made in 2015.

After the workers were dismissed they visited the National Insurance Office in Tunapuna and got the shock of their lives when they realised that their NIS premiums had not been forwarded to the National Insurance Scheme. The moral of this episode is that all workers should ensure that their NIS contributions are paid up by visiting the NI office.

Do not trust your employer to do the right thing, especially if you are not unionised and you work in minimum wage, retail, fast food, transport firms and other low paid service areas. Failure to remit contributions to the NIS is a widespread practice in this country. It robs the NIB of millions of dollars and leaves hundreds of thousands of workers unprotected.

According to the National Insurance Act (Act 35 of 1971), Section 39A. “The amount of money due and payable by an employee or by an employer as a contribution under this Part shall— (a) be deemed to be held in trust for the Board by the employer; (b) not be subject to attachment in respect to any debt or liability of the employer; and (c) form no part of the assets of the employer in the event of liquidation, assignment or bankruptcy of the employer or his business.”

The Act, therefore, makes it clear that NI contributions from both employer and employee cannot be used by the employer as he sees fit. It does not belong to him. It belongs to the National Insurance Board.

The Act goes on to state: “39B. Where any employer fails to pay the amount of contributions payable by him to the Board under the provisions of this Act by the fifteenth day after the due date, he shall be liable to pay— (a) a penalty of twenty-five per cent of the outstanding sum; or (b) penalty of one hundred per cent of the outstanding sum, where the period for which the contributions were retained, is in excess of five years; and (c) interest on the entire sum (penalty and outstanding sum at the rate of fifteen per cent per annum from the sixteenth day of the following month until payment).”

Based on the above, Cadel Trading owes the NIB substantial sums of money and is liable to pay the outstanding sum, penalty and interest on the combined sum of outstanding monies and penalty.

Section 40 of the Act states: “An employer who fails or neglects to pay or effect payment of contribution in respect of any person in his employment who is required to be insured under this Act, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of four thousand dollars and six months imprisonment and in the case of a continuing offence shall be liable in respect of each person for whom he neglected or failed to pay or effect payment of contribution, a further fine of one hundred dollars a day for each day that the offence continues after conviction.”

The law, therefore, states that the employer is liable, on conviction, to be jailed for six months, which jail term, on reflection, is much too light and should be increased. If the jewel thieves were to be arrested and convicted (fat chance), you think they would only get six months? 

When Voice called for fire to bun the street level bandits, we all applauded. Let us not discriminate against the one percent!
Gerry Kangalee,
14 Mar 2018, 12:21