Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is upbeat that workers in the sector will be able to fully register for the pension scheme starting in March 2020.
The Tourism Workers Pension Scheme is designed to cover all workers ages 18-59 years in the tourism sector, whether permanent, contract or self-employed. This includes hotel workers, as well as persons employed in related industries such as craft vendors, tour operators, red cap porters, contract carriage operators and workers at attractions.
Speaking at a sensitization session at the Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa yesterday, Minister Bartlett said, “This landmark social legislation will change the social security arrangements for all workers in the sector who will have a guaranteed pension when they retire.
I am pleased that based on our timelines to get everything in place, by March, workers will be able to register for the scheme and begin to contribute to their own retirement.”
The Scheme is now in effect and is managed by a Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees is currently in the process of finalizing the negotiations for an Investment Manager and a Fund Administrator to manage the operations of the Scheme. The Scheme is also tax exempt and regulated by the Financial Services Commission.
The Ministry is in the process of developing regulations for the Act, which also provides for an augmented pension. Augmented pension beneficiaries will be persons who joined the Scheme at 59 years old and would not have saved enough for a pension. With the Ministry’s injection of $1 Billion to augment the fund, these persons will qualify for a minimum pension.
“We felt the need to find a solution for those workers who would have contributed for only 5 years but deserve the guarantee of a pension at retirement. So once the Investment Manager has been appointed, J$250 million out of the J$1 billion from the Ministry’s injection will be disbursed to seed the fund to ensure these workers have a pension,” added Minister Bartlett.
As part of the Ministry’s awareness efforts, Tourism Workers Pension Sensitization Sessions will continue. This week, sessions were held at the Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa, Sangster International Airport, Secrets Montego Bay and Excellence Oyster Bay. The next sensitization session for February will be in Portland on the 27th.
Since the start of these sensitization sessions in 2018, 2500 workers have attended, many of whom have expressed interest in the Scheme.