Government extends BPO work-from-home scheme for fifth time
Some members of the new GSAJ administration at the annual general meeting at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Thursday.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Immediate past president of the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ), formerly the Business Processing Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), Gloria Henry, has announced that Government has provided a fifth extension for workers in the sector to work from home.

She made the announcement at the annual general meeting of GSAJ held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Thursday, before passing the baton to Anand Biradar.

During the peak of the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, Government first gave approval for members of the outsourcing sector to work from home.

“The last extension would have ended today, the 30th of June, we have managed to successfully secure an extension,” Henry announced.

Another important development, she revealed, is that Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke is giving GSAJ 60 days to return to him “with a proposal for a long-term work-at-home legislation”.

“So that, to me, is a very important move in that direction,” Henry argued.

To facilitate the development, she said the Government has identified a special committee that will work within the tax unit of the Ministry of Finance.

“That committee consists of representatives from the tax unit of Customs and the TAJ (Tax Administration of Jamaica) and the Special Economic Zone Authority,” Henry said.

She added that GSAJ has proposed that 30 per cent of the workforce in the sector to work from home.

“What we have advanced is a 70:30 ratio; 70 per cent at office, 30 per cent at home. And the minister was clear and reminded me each time I lapsed that it is work at home, it can’t be anything else because we have to now put systems in place to track devices, to secure devices, to ensure that substance is clearly articulated and protected and that Customs has no concern or mitigate the concerns the Customs would have about leakage of revenues,” stated Henry.

Meanwhile, Henry, who was recently awarded Nearshore Executive of the Year by Nearshore Americas at the Nexus Illuminate Awards, held in New York last month, has trumpeted the over 1,000 individuals now enrolled in the Global Services Skills Council (GSSC) among the major accomplishments of GSAJ.

The GSSC was established three years ago to certify 400 individuals each year but has overwhelmingly exceeded that target.

She noted that under the project, individuals have been able to receive formal certification.

“We have over 1,000 persons enrolled in the GSSC apprenticeship programme and this to me is one of the resounding successes of the GSSC project. I think that it is really very rewarding when we’re able to allow persons who would have left high school, went straight into work, work for 10, 12 years within the sector, but they have not formally been certified. So if ever they leave the sector, they only have their experience to talk about they don’t have any certification,” Henry, who served at the helm of GSAJ for five consecutive terms, said.

“And this is what this programme has been doing. Many persons have been able to not just work and understand a different role that they can get into as they move up the value chain, but they have been able to get certified as well. So that’s important,” she added.

Biradar, who joined the annual general meeting virtually because he was “under the weather”, committed to do his best in his new role, even as he conceded that it will be an uphill task to fill the void created by Henry.

“I will commit myself to do everything I can in my capacity to do justice to the role. Overall, I feel we can trod the course forward. There will be challenges and we will solve them together,” said Biradar.

Biradar is a senior vice-president — head of Latin America and the Caribbean region for HGS Healthcare, a world’s leading outsourcing firm specialised in serving the US health-care industry with a spectrum of tech-enabled management solutions across claims, payment integrity, provider data, utilisation, disease, and member/provider experience management.

He is a Harvard Business School alumnus and an accomplished global executive with over two decades of expertise in strategy design and execution; leadership, business development and expansion; organisational turnaround and developments; and overall business management.

GSAJ is a non-profit organisation which was established in 2012 by a group of operators with commonly identified needs and objectives to advocate for better policies and interventions geared toward increasing the competitiveness of Jamaica’s global service sector.

New president of the Global Services Association of Jamaica Anand Biradar.
Horace Hinds

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