Published On: Fri, Dec 15th, 2017

Ombudsman to investigate procedures applied by Dismissal Advisory Committee

Ombudsman Sint Maarten Nilda ArduinPHILIPSBURG — In the aftermath of the devastating hurricane season, Ombudsman Dr. Nilda Arduin starts a systemic investigation in the procedures applied by the Dismissal Advisory Committee and the decision making process by the Secretary General of the Health, Social Development and Labor Department (VSA), when faced with dismissal requests submitted by employers.

On 2 October 2017 a Complaint was filed by a lawyer with the Ombudsman against the Labor Department/Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (Ministry VSA) regarding the composition of the members of the Dismissal Advisory Committee in handling a dismissal request submitted on behalf of his client, and the subsequent decision of the Secretary General of VSA.

Summary of Complaint: Employees or former employees of the employer requesting permission to layoff one of its employees should not be allowed to take part in the process as members of the Dismissal Advisory Committee as such is biased and leads to unbalanced and biased decisions. The decision of the Secretary General should at all times be sufficiently motivated regarding the advice received from the Committee.

The complainant furthermore alleged that the Dismissal Advisory Committee at the time of submitting the request for dismissal of one of its employees consisted of two (2) former employees and one (1) current employee of the establishment. According to the Complainant these persons  were highly critical of the employer during the meeting held; allegedly repeatedly referring to (negative) personal experiences with the employer in the past, and clearly showing a high level of bias.

Considering that the core of the Complaint filed is of general interest of the public, more so as an increase of dismissal requests to the Labor Department are expected in the aftermath of the Hurricanes, the Ombudsman resolved to conduct a systemic investigation regarding:

  1. The compilation of the Dismissal Advisory Committee and application of the law in order to prevent possible bias;
  2. The application of an advice provided by the Dismissal Advisory Committee in the decision making process of the Secretary General regarding a request to dismiss an employee;
  3. Motivation of a decision providing permission (or not) for the dismissal of an employee.

Preliminary research and queries by the Ombudsman into applicable procedures suggest that the Rule of Order (Reglement van Orde”) as required by law, and other possible policies and procedures regarding the functioning of the Dismissal Advisory Committee are not in place. As such the Complaint filed warrants a thorough investigation.

With the many issues facing the people as all grapple to recover from the many blows shared by the recent hurricanes, transparency and fairness are among others key to build trust in government bodies and the systems the law provide. In the general interest of the people the Ombudsman and the Bureau therefore prepare to engage various systemic investigations, to promote proper application and compliance by government with the law. The public is  encouraged to do their part in helping to promote good governance and file their complaints with the Ombudsman.