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According to the information collected at the Records department of Social Security, the best time to get a job in St. Kitts and Nevis is in the months of July, August, September & October; and sometimes December.  Stands to reason when one considers that school is out, CXC, CAPE, CCSLC, NCE, CVQ, City & Guilds, BA, MA, BSc, MSc, MPhil, MBA and PHD would all have been written as well as TOS and Promotion Exams.  Lots of people, mostly students, are on the hunt for any available job and employers have their pick of the very best academic and technical skills that is on offer.  It is a time of promise and of potential.  It is also the time of new beginnings when people depart to study at institutions abroad and at home; and we wish that all of them would do well.  That is the obvious.

What may not be so obvious is how active that time of year is.  Usually, in July, between 14 Ð 17% of employee registration takes place, followed in August with 9 to 13%, September by 9 – 10% and October when 9 -10% of registration takes place.  [December is the next busiest month, when 8 – 10% of all registration takes place Ð obviously].   No other month comes close.  We are talking here of 500 Ð 800 possible jobs!  By now therefore, job applications should have been prepared and dispatched, and interview techniques have been refined.   Your best bet for finding a job is just around the corner!

If you are seriously job hunting, then try the Wholesale/Retail trades, the Construction industry, Public Administration, the Hotels/Restaurant sector and Manufacturing. These are the top five recruiters during this time of the year: they employ 78% of all newcomers.  If you are going into business for yourself, the sectors which have the most starts in the season are the Transportation sector, Agriculture, Construction; and Community, Social and Personal Service activities.   Be aware, too, that new businesses come on stream in the long summer months: in 2007, there were 67 new businesses registered in Construction, Real Estate, Wholesale/Retail trades, Hotels/Restaurant and in Private Households with domestic helpers.   Keep an eye on the established businesses though; the lowest number of new business registration takes place in the same period.   Men are slightly more fortunate than women in finding employment (56% to 44%) and show more entrepreneurship than women (52% vs 48%).

Then come and register with Social Security.  To become registered and insured, here is what you are required to do.  Visit our offices at Bay Road, Basseterre, or at Chapel Street, Charlestown, and complete the registration form.   It asks for your name Ð all of them – including your alias, date of birth, country of birth, marital status, your address, your dependents, your job & employer and a few simple questions.  In turn you will be issued with a unique 6 digit number and an identification card with a picture (make sure you look good).

Secure your card. It has embedded security features that are important, some of which are unique to you.  In fact, it is such a good card Ð although it is free Ð that people have used it at banks, to get registered at the electoral office and to travel.  It is especially important now that the United States has changed its visa application process.

The most important item obtained by way of registration is a promise, and it is this:-

if you pay social security 5% of your wages (maybe a little more) for as long as you are at work and until the age of 62 (maybe a little older), and if your employer matches your payment with another 5% (maybe a little more) and covers you for on-the-job injury with another 1%, then Social security will pay you benefits Ð as people often say Ð too numerous to mention and at a very, very generous rate.  But there are qualifying conditions, so make sure you ask about them.  And then, when you reach age 62 (maybe a little higher), we will pay you a pension whether you continue to work or not!

There are also obligations to fulfill on your part.  Examine your pay slip and make sure you understand it.  SS deductions mean that social security has been taken out.   If you see LV it means levy (the 3% that goes to Government).   Some employers lump everything together for an 8% deduction, but it is always shared between us and government.  And, of course, if your job pays you higher than $6,500.00 per month, no 5% deduction is made above that amount.  Your other obligation is to come into our offices at least once per year to check up on things.  Cultivate this as a good habit.

If you are going into business on your own in which you will employ persons, then you need to complete the Employer Registration form, and it helps to bring your business licence from the Inland Revenue Department.   If your business is a self employed business, then ask for the Self-Employed Registration form, and again bring your business licence or other official document to support your claim.

There is also a promise to the employer; we promise to pay your valued workers 65% of wages if they get sick after satisfying qualifying conditions. You may, if you wish, top up this payment with the other 35%.  But we will ease your burden of having to pay wages for someone who is too sick to work just so that you can keep them when they return to the pink of health.  That way, you donÕt have to keep training people!  And, of course, the promise to the Self-employed person is the same as that for an employed person except for the Employment Injury benefits which are covered – in part – under our sickness programme.

This is a promise we must keep.  It is our sacred vow.

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