Employers that intend to retain the services of foreign workers with a Gainful Occupation Permit (GOP) who are currently outside of Seychelles due to closed borders have to inform the employment department by June 30.
These employers must write a letter to the Principal Secretary of Employment, Jules Baker, giving the details of the worker they wish to keep in their organisations. This must also be done for non-Seychellois workers who need to return to the country to collect their personal belongings.
The employment department noted that no requests for renewal of GOPs for non-Seychellois employees currently overseas will be considered until the employer has submitted all requirements.
The new obligation for employers falls under a temporary GOP Framework introduced on June 2 to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic has minimal adverse effects on the labour market.
The director general for labour migration at the Ministry of Employment, Benilda Cupidon, told SNA on Friday that "permission for GOP holders to return to Seychelles will be granted by the ministry based on guidelines from the Public Health Authority."
She added that this exercise will provide the ministry with data about foreign workers market in Seychelles.
"This will allow us to know the reason why employers are keeping the service of these expatriates, how many foreign workers will not be made redundant, how many will be coming back into the country once the border is open," said Cupidon.
She added that it will also provide the ministry with information about "the number of ex-pats in the country, which position they occupy versus Seychellois that we have within the market, in which domain they have skills and qualifications, and which job they are looking for."
The department recognises that there are various reasons as to why a person employs foreign workers as there might be a shortage in the particular field, there are not enough supplies or lack of skills among others.
"At the moment we maintain our renewal process in sectors where we see that there is a shortage. We need to make sure that we are not destabilising a sector through the setting up of policies. Teaching, health, construction are some examples of sectors with greater demand for ex-pat workers, however, this does not stop our work to see if Seychellois can be absorbed into these sectors," said Cupidon.
She outlined that for non-Seychellois workers whose GOP is expiring or has expired, and who, along with the employer, wish to continue working in the country, renewal is being made while the foreigner is still in the country.
The pre-COVID-19 procedure for GOP renewal meant that a foreign worker had to leave the country while the employer was following procedures to renew the permit.
If an employer decides not to renew the GOP of its non-Seychellois worker, an extension of the GOP will be provided for up to three months, to legalise the status of the worker in the country until the person can be repatriated. This extension will be free of charge and applicable between July 1 and December 31. In such cases, the employer will have to provide food and shelter to the person.