18 August 2019 | The communication director of the Adventist denomination’s Jamaican Union Conference has accused the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector in the country of refusing to hire Adventists due to Sabbath-keeping issues.
The BPO sector handles the fulfillment of organizations’ non-primary business activities like payroll, human resources and call center functions. It is a rapidly growing sector in Jamaica where local workers handle these services for overseas companies.
“It has come to my attention that despite the significant growth in the BPO, Adventist members are not benefiting. This, I am reliably informed, is because this sector does not employ Seventh-day Adventists because of the Sabbath. Once they disclose that they are Adventists, they are told that the hours of work are not flexible to accommodate their day of worship or rest,” said Nigel Coke during a sermon this past Saturday at Kencot SDA Church in the St Andrew parish of southeast Jamaica.
According to The Gleaner, Coke claimed that although Jamaica’s 2014 Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements, FWAs) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act allowed for flexi-work arrangements to accommodate things like Sabbath time off, this had not been implemented in the BPO sector.
“I, therefore, call upon Mr Pearnel Charles Jr, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, to investigate and intervene in this area of great concern because it cannot be that we have such a fast-growing area of employment in this country and Adventists are denied employment,” Coke said. “I also call upon the president of the PSOJ (Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica), Mr Howard Mitchell, and Mrs Gloria Henry, president of the Business Processing Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), to assist where possible.”
Henry responded that she knew of no BPO discrimination against Adventists.
Charles, an Adventist himself, also claimed to be unaware of discriminatory practices against religious groups.
Both officials pledged to investigate the matter.
According to the denomination’s Office of Archives, Statistics and Research, there were 310,762 Adventists in the Jamaican Union Conference as of June 30, 2018.