Gov’t to amend CARICOM Skilled Nationals Act
Under the Single Market and Economy, various skilled nationals obtain a skills certificate and are free to travel across the region and work without having to obtain a work permit, but under the current system, their spouses cannot, and by law their children are not allowed access to education and healthcare. But, the government here is hoping to change that by amending the Skills National Act. Other CARICOM states are obligated to also amend their laws to allow spouses of skilled nationals to work without a work permit, but Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett said the government is not waiting on others before fulfilling its obligations. CARICOM has for years been arguing about a protocol on contingent rights, that would allow the children of skilled nationals to enter schools and benefit from health care. The Minister said that some CARICOM states are worried about being able to meet such obligations.
Minister Rodrigues said that the matter of contingent rights, such as access to education and healthcare, must be clearly established so that there would be no room for individual member states to deny access to such facilities.
CARICOM negotiators have also taken years to widen the list of persons who can travel freely and work in the region. One of the most contentious issues has been deciding on what basis domestic workers would be allowed to obtain a skills certificate and work freely.
There are currently ten categories of workers who do not need a work permit to work in any CARICOM state, including trained teachers and nurses, and university graduates.