The Labour Division of the Ministry commenced operations in 1938 as an Employment Bureau. The Bureau was the first official response to growing unemployment, which was spreadi ng throughout Jamaica during that period.

The relationship between employer and employee at the time was one of master and servant. This gave rise to grave economic disparities within the population as most persons received low wages and had poor living and working conditions.

In response to a need for social programmes, which catered to all sections of the population, a planning team was established in the Ministry of Labour to develop a social security scheme. The Ministry obtained technical assistance from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to develop proposals for this scheme. The National Insurance Scheme Act was passed in 1965 and became effective April 4, 1966. When the Scheme was established, it incorporated the Sugar Workers’ Pension Scheme.

The Social Security Division of the Ministry evolved from this as programmes were added to address the needs of vulnerable groups within the society.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is still concerned with matters affecting individuals in their capacity as workers, employers and members of the country’s labour force. These matters include industrial safety, employment promotion, providing a source of income for workers who are injured on the job, and retirement benefits.
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