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Tribunal knocks NIB over contribution collection

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 08, 2013

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The Industrial Tribunal recently blasted the National Insurance Board (NIB), suggesting in a ruling last month that the department responsible for collecting contributions “is not performing up to standard” which could have an “everlasting disastrous effect” on retirees.

“This court hears many stories as it relates to the payment of National Insurance contributions,” the ruling, dated September 27, 2013, read.

“The relevant department responsible for the collection of contributions is either short staffed or not performing up to standard so as to keep on top of the situation. This is a very serious issue which must be addressed forthwith as it has an everlasting disastrous effect on the quality of life an individual will be able to live after retirement.”

The concern is contained in the court’s ruling that an employee of Montagu Motors was unfairly dismissed.

Vice President of the Industrial Tribunal Keith Thompson found that Andre Cherisme was wrongfully dismissed from Montagu Motors and awarded him $7,800 and interest at 10 percent per year from the date of the judgement until it is paid in full.

The ruling read that Cherisme, now 67, started working with Montagu Motors owner Brent Fox at Fox Apartments in 1988, Water Polo Restaurant in 1992 and later at Montagu Motors in 2003.

According to Cherisme, from 1988 to 2003, Fox never paid his National Insurance contributions. However, evidence showed that Fox did pay for some of Cherisme’s contributions.

“Based on the applicant’s evidence, there was a continuous master servant relationship between the applicant and the respondent,” Thompson ruled.

“Whatever businesses Mr. Fox ventured into he took the applicant along. In this regard, the National Insurance records, however, tell a different story. Mr. Fox, as employer for whatever entity, has committed a criminal offense.

“Of course, this court has no jurisdiction to deal with criminal matters but that does not prevent us from highlighting and exposing those employers who blatantly and repeatedly commit such acts.”

The ruling stated that in 2002, Cherisme said Fox started “acting funny with him”.

On September 9, 2009 Cherisme said he arrived to work at 9:15 a.m. and was told by Fox, “no work today”.  Cherisme said he was told this for several days and after agitating to ascertain if he was still employed, received a letter in which he was terminated.

“We must add that we have no doubt that the applicant worked for the respondent as the applicant has supplied the tribunal with any number of applications for initially a work permit, and thereafter a series of renewals and ultimately the applicant received his permanent residency,” the ruling read.

In a letter to the applicant in 2011 in response to a request for retirement benefits, the National Insurance Board informed Cherisme that he didn’t have sufficient contributions to get full old age pension. He received a lump sum payment of $10,800.

“The printout of the history of National Insurance contributions tells a sad story as it relates to the benefits that the applicant ought to have received,” the ruling read.

The Ninth Actuarial Review of the National Insurance Fund, for the period 2007 to 2011, recommended that NIB move to significantly increase penalties on late-paying businesses.

The review pointed out that less than 25 percent of monthly NIB contributions are paid on time, and almost 50 percent pay more than three months late.

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