Created: Sep 06, 2022 08:00
Jason Hayward, Minister of Economy and Labor, at a press conference on September 1, 2022 (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)(Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
The government has proposed that the minimum wage be set between $16 and $16.40 an hour, which would make it one of the highest in the world.
Additionally, hospitality workers, whose income is a combination of wages and bonuses, must be paid a minimum of $12 and $12.30 per hour.
Jason Hayward, Minister of Economy and Labour, made the announcement ahead of Labor Day celebrations this morning.
In a statement, he said: “As Minister of Economy and Labour, I cannot tell you how happy I am to announce that after decades of successive governments accused of ‘stepping this government will implement a minimum wage rate law in Bermuda.
In a position paper released at the same time this morning, the government said the increases would come into effect next June.
“Whether the increase is $16 or $16.40 will depend on the annual rate of inflation this year, but the maximum rate will be the latter figure as there is a 2.5% cap on inflation.
He added: “This government continues to demonstrate its commitment to working people. We have taken a human-centric approach. The establishment of a minimum wage reflects the social justice ethos of the Progressive Labor Party government, ensuring that a fair day’s wages are paid for a fair day’s work.
“And so, designed to be a legal wage floor, it is proposed that Bermuda’s minimum wage be set between $16 and $16.40, which will be considered one of the highest in the world.”
“Hospitality workers who receive tips and gratuities and personal care workers who receive primarily commission-based compensation will have a minimum wage set at 75% of the ordinary minimum wage, which is equivalent to a fixed rate between $12 and $12.30.”
Mr. Hayward also announced the release of a position paper on the minimum wage, which is attached to this story.
Last May, Cordell Riley, chairman of the Minimum Wage Commission, released a report proposing a minimum wage of between $13.20 and $17.30 an hour. The proposed rate of $16 to $16.40 would represent 52% of the average hourly wage in Bermuda.
In May this year, the government was criticized by unions for “dropping” the minimum wage.
Mr Hayward added today: “Since the 2020 election, the Government has launched the National Jobs Strategy and the Youth Jobs Strategy, in addition to many other policy initiatives, which aim to promote the economic security for workers in all employment sectors and levels of experience. Establishing a wage floor is another feature of the economic stimulus package, which will improve the lives of many Bermudians.
“Now more than ever, establishing a minimum wage is crucial to ensure that all segments of our society have access to their basic needs. This government is committed to providing social protection to all Bermudians.
“While there is still work to be done to achieve a living wage rate for Bermuda, this is a monumental step. Workers will now be assured of a respectable and decent wage, as it sets a standard of basis for all employers when hiring staff for their businesses.
According to the position paper, Commission members were told that from a business perspective, a minimum wage of $15 “may be tolerable”, but that an hourly minimum wage of $18 could have adverse effects. negatives such as job losses.
The document says the introduction of a minimum wage is important now because of economic pressures on households.
“Over the past few years, the global economy has come under unprecedented pressure from factors such as pandemic health, war and devastation related to climate change.
“These variables have led to labor shortages, increased pressure on global supply chains, and ultimately negatively impacted the price consumers pay for many basic goods and services.
“The government must remain nimble and responsive to these changes as they impact our local economy. Therefore, similar to responses from other jurisdictions, establishing a minimum wage is more crucial than ever to ensure that all segments of our society have access to their basic needs.
“It is this government’s promise to provide social protection to all Bermudians. Establishing a global minimum wage is fundamental to ensuring that we progress as a fair and equitable society.
The document also highlighted low-paying positions held by Bermudians, with the lowest – sound equipment operators, athletic trainers and social hostesses – receiving a median of $21,000 in gross annual earnings working 35 hours a week.
A similar list of low-paying positions held by non-Bermudians included motorcycle mechanics ($24,273), building structure cleaners ($24,600), and housekeepers ($24,857).