[lg policy] English Speaking Policy Under Consideration

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Oct 4 10:47:59 EDT 2018


English Speaking Policy Under Consideration
<http://bernews.com/2018/10/english-speaking-policy-under-consideration/>
October 3, 2018 | 53 Comments
<http://bernews.com/2018/10/english-speaking-policy-under-consideration/#comments>

[Updated with video + remarks] An English Speaking Work Permit Policy is
under consideration, and the Minister is expected to hold a press
conference to provide details later today [Oct 3], the Ministry has
confirmed.

What appears to be a draft document of the potential policy states, “While
it is appreciated that employers in a number of industries are finding it
more and more difficult to recruit from English-speaking countries, it is
unacceptable to have foreign nationals serving persons, whether it is in a
restaurant, a hotel or a rest home, who cannot communicate effectively in
English. It is dangerous in a job where one has to also read prescriptions
or the labels of dangerous chemicals.”

[image: Immigration Law on notepaper and the US flag]
<http://cloudfront.bernews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/work-permit-Policy-Bermuda-generic-RHKsQkP5.jpg>

The job categories apparently being considered are those in industries
“where the job holder interacts with the public or in jobs where lives
could be threatened if the person cannot speak or read English,” the
document states, adding those could include Restaurant/Food Service and
Hotel Worker; Health Professionals and Caregivers in Nursing Jobs.

The document — which has not officially been confirmed but is understood to
have been circulated to some stakeholders for consultation — states that
workers from countries where English is not the first language may have to
provide evidence they have “successfully passed an English as a Second
Language programme.”

“The employer is required to show evidence that the applicant has
successfully passed an English as Second Language programme by submitting
the document with the work permit application,” it states.

“The policy cannot be proactively policed by the Department of Immigration
without incurring great expense in time, money and manpower,” the document
states, so they “will either react to complaints” from the public or if
“public officers witness this deficiency themselves.”

The document further notes that if the language test results indicate that
the person is deficient in their ability to speak English, “the employer
and employee will be advised that the Minister is considering revoking the
work permit; both parties will be given 14 days to provide a written
response as to why the Minister should not revoke the work permit.”

The phrasing of the consultation document is similar to a policy announced back
in 2010.
<http://bernews.com/2010/03/guest-workers-to-speak-english-or-be-returned/>

The Minister is expected to hold a press conference on this matter at
around noon, and barring any issues or changes, we will update this article
with the live video, which we will also carry live on Bernews Facebook page.

*Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 14-minute replay is below*

*Update 1.44pm:* Speaking at today’s press conference on this matter,
Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown said, “The English Speaking Work
Permit Policy, currently out for consultation, seeks to ensure that foreign
nationals hired by employers to work in serving positions – whether it’s in
a restaurant, a hotel or a rest home – can communicate effectively in
English.

“Also, it is dangerous, for example, to have a non-English speaker employed
in a job where one has to read prescriptions or the labels of dangerous
chemicals.

“It is for those reasons that the Department of Immigration is seeking to
put into effect the English Speaking Work Permit Policy.

“The job categories that are being targeted by the new policy are those in
industries where the job holder interacts with the public or in jobs where
lives could be threatened if the person cannot speak or read English,
namely:

   - [a] Restaurant/Food Service and Hotel Workers: such as
   cleaner/houseman; room attendant; pot washer; cook/chef; waiter; food and
   beverage server; maitre’d; kitchen porter; counter person; counter chef;


   - [b] Health Professionals, including but not exclusive of: physician;
   pharmacist; nurse; nursing aide; physiotherapist; occupational therapist;
   radiological technician; social worker; and


   - [c] Caregivers in Nursing Jobs: nursemaid/nanny/child caregiver;
   caregivers of geriatric employers and patients in nursing homes.

“For workers from countries where English is not the first language, a
condition would be placed on the work permit under this new Policy stating:
‘Applicant must provide evidence he or she has successfully passed an
‘English as a Second Language’ programme.’

“The employer would be required to show evidence that the applicant has
successfully passed an ‘English as Second Language’ programme by submitting
the document with the work permit application.

“Under this Policy, the Department of Immigration would investigate
complaints from members of the general public that work permit holders
cannot speak or understand English. In circumstances where the individual
is already working in Bermuda and where a complaint is lodged against
him/her, he/she will be brought into the Department of Immigration and
given an English language test.

“If the test results indicate that the person is deficient in their
understanding of and/or ability to speak English [i.e. they fail the test],
the employer and employee will be advised that the Minister is considering
revoking the work permit; both parties will be given 14 days to provide a
written response as to why the Minister should not revoke the work permit.

“If the language test results indicate that the person is proficient in
their understanding of and/or ability to speak English [i.e. they pass the
test], they will be allowed to continue to reside and work in Bermuda for
the duration of their work permit. In this case, the Department of
Immigration reserves the right to recall the work permit holder for
re-testing at any time.

“As mentioned earlier, the English Speaking Work Permit Policy is in
circulation to key stakeholders for consultative purposes; the deadline for
feedback is October 12, 2018. Depending on the extent of the feedback, I
expect that this Policy will be implemented by October 19, 2018.”

The Minister also announced that in order to “provide greater assurance”
that Bermudian tennis professionals are given fair employment
opportunities, the Department of Immigration has introduced a new process
of referring related work permit applications to the Bermuda Lawn Tennis
Association. Details of that policy can be found here.
<http://bernews.com/2018/10/tennis-work-permit-application-process-change/>

-- 
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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