PM Holness advises private sector to carefully assess best options regarding return to office
KINGSTON, JAMAICA — In a push towards regaining some semblance of normalcy after nearly two years of COVID-19 pandemic-related impacts, the Jamaican government is ending its mandatory work-from-home policy at the end of this year and allowing public servants to return to their offices.
The nation had implemented a work-from-home policy for the public sector since March 2020, when the pandemic first began having a major impact in the Caribbean region, and earlier this year mandated a “hard” work-from-home policy.
However, while delivering a statement in the House of Representatives yesterday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said productivity had become a major concern alongside the policy’s introduction.
“The mandatory work-from-home order for the public sector will come to an end on December 31, 2021,” the prime minister declared.
“There have been a number of concerns expressed about the loss of productivity that this measure is having. We need to get back to normal, but of course, to do so safely.”
He added, “The goal is to return to full productivity effective the first work day in January 2022. So, the public sector must get back to work at their workplaces.”
But Holness specified that various departments will still have the option to allow work-from-home if they deem it appropriate, noting that the removal of the mandate simply means it is no longer a “hard rule”.
“Individual ministries, departments and agencies should assess their own circumstances and determine what is best.”
Private sector to make its own decision on work-from-home
Holness stopped short of dictating to the private sector how it should approach a work-from-home policy, encouraging it only to “do what’s best for them” as long as health and safety protocols are being followed.
He noted, “The private sector has followed the lead of the government in this regard. We have never mandated, but we have encouraged the private sector and many of them have adapted, and adopted the measures.
“We are similarly encouraging the private sector to do what is best for them and many of them have said that it is time that they bring back their staff into office.
“So, if that is what’s best for them, the government has no objections; just ensure that the protocols are in place and people can return to work safely.”