In May 2020, Bill No.12 of 2020 was introduced before the Parliament of Fiji. This led to passing of the Employment Relations (Amendment) Act 2020 (ERA), which led to changes in Fiji’s employment law due to the difficulties faced by businesses during COVID-19. The Amendment was passed to provide a more realistic work environment to employees to help them maintain their jobs and keep up with changes that the virus could bring to the Fijian economy.
Section 47 has been altered to include deductions from an employee’s wages to adjust and increase their contribution to medical insurance. The Amendment also gives an employer permission, with the employee’s consent, to reduce an employee’s wages by more than 50% for life or medical insurance or towards any medical scheme.
Part 11 of The Amendment initially expanded on taking time off from work to care for and support children in order to achieve work-life balance. However, under section 101A of the Employment Relations Act (2007), paternity leave has been reduced from five working days to two working days. A man can only avail himself of paternity leave if all provisions of section 101A of the ERA have been met. To be eligible for this benefit, an employee needs to:
- Prove that he/she is the primary caretaker (someone who is responsible for the upbringing and development) of the child
- Hand a medical certificate to the employer from a registered medical practitioner to prove the estimated date of birth of his child.
Family Care Leave
A new section has been added to the Act to incorporate family care leave. Section 245C of the Amendment states that a worker can take two days’ leave in a year to provide support to a member of their household or immediate family. However, the employer has discretion to provide more than two days if desired. According to the Amendment Act, an immediate family refers to an employee’s child, partner, parent, and sibling. A household refers to the members of a house who are financially dependent on each other or are a part of the employee’s house.
Initially, section 68A of the ERA stated that family care leave was a minimum of five working days and could be availed by the employee if he had worked for the same employer for three consecutive months. Section 245E of the Amendment now provides a list of different scenarios to determine how paternity and family care leave should be decided.
It should be kept in mind that according to the change in policies, if an employer faces economic hardship during this time and needs to restructure his business, he can rely on part 19, sections 106 to 108, of the ERA. However, employers might still have to follow the set procedures for redundancy, which might not be a simple task.
To learn more about labor requirements in Fiji, click here