[lg policy] Brown confirms English proficiency policy

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Oct 5 10:58:36 EDT 2018

 BERMUDA | Friday October 5, 2018
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Brown confirms English proficiency policy

Owain Johnston-Barnes
Published Oct 4, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 4, 2018 at 8:03 am)
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   - [image: Home affairs minister Walton Brown (File photograph by Akil

   Home affairs minister Walton Brown (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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The home affairs minister said the Government was considering the
introduction of an English test for work permits.

Walton Brown said consultation on the proposal is under way and tests could
be introduced before the end of the month.

Mr Brown said: “The English-speaking work permit policy is in circulation
to key stakeholders for consultative purposes.

“The deadline for feedback is October 12. Depending on the extent of the
feedback, I expect that this policy will be implemented by October 19.”

The policy would require anyone from a country where English is not the
first language to prove they have passed an English as a second language
exam to get a work permit for some positions.

Mr Brown said the focus would be on industries where the staff have to deal
with the public and jobs in which lives could be put at risk if a worker
did not have a good command of English.

Those positions include restaurant and hotel staff, health professionals,
caregivers and nurses.

Mr Brown said: “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 them, they will be brought into the
Department of Immigration and given an English language test.”

“If the employee fails the test, they and their employer will be given 14
days to provide a written response as to why the minister should not revoke
their work permit.”

Mr Brown said costs of the tests would be covered by the Government. He
added the Government can recall employees for retesting. Mr Brown denied
that the new system would open the doors to harassment.

Mr Brown said: “I think we will deal with all of these matters carefully
and make assessments going forward. We will be very careful in how we
process these applications.”

The draft policy also said that when a work permit-holder arrives in
Bermuda as a first-time resident, HM Customs and Immigration officers can
return them to their place of origin if they believe they cannot speak or
understand English.

Mr Brown said: “There will be training undertaking so there is a process
they have to undertake when processing the individual.”

He also dismissed the suggestion that strong accents could cause challenges.

The minister said: “There is a sharp distinction between the two and the
customs officials will be aware of that distinction.”

Mr Brown said the Government was still at work in a bid to create
comprehensive immigration reform. He said: “We have come to a position on a
number of key issues involving mixed status families and we will be
unveiling that in due course, in the next few weeks.”
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Published Oct 4, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 4, 2018 at 8:03 am)
Brown confirms English proficiency policy
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 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

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