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Minimum wage details to be made public this week

Details on the implementation of a minimum wage for the island are to be made public this week, capping years of discussion.

Setting a minimum wage should boost jobs for Bermudians and improve pay across the board, according to Jason Hayward, the labour minister.

Mr Hayward said a report by the Wage Commission tasked with investigating minimum and living wages would be tabled on Friday in the House of Assembly.

He did not reveal the findings of the six-member group, which has investigated the issues since being formed in February last year.

Mr Hayward said: “After it is tabled, the Minister of Labour will do an assessment on its recommendations and then put a Bill in front of Parliament implementing a minimum wage.

“We believe if we increase the wage level for a number of occupational categories, it will make them more attractive to Bermudian employees.”

He added: “We also understand that the ability of employers to hire foreign workers at lower rates keeps wage levels down across the board.

“A combination of these two things will improve the overall wage level and more those positions more attractive.”

A living wage is defined as the “amount of income necessary to afford an employee and his household a socially acceptable standard of living”.

Led by the statistician and antiracism activist Cordell Riley, the Wage Commission included Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union; economists Robert Stubbs and Craig Simmons; Philip Barnett, a businessman who heads the Island Restaurant Group, and Martha Dismont, a longstanding social worker.

Mr Hayward said acting on wages was in “direct alignment” with the economic recovery plan unveiled earlier this year by Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance.

In 2018, a parliamentary joint select committee called for legislators to decide on a living wage by this year.

It also recommended a minimum wage of $12.25 per hour by 2019, to be upped to $18.23 an hour by this month.

The Progressive Labour Party pledged in its 2018 Throne Speech to mandate wages in line with the island’s cost of living.

Mr Hayward also wants to introduce a national unemployment insurance scheme, which he said was also in line with the economic recovery plan, but as yet he has no timeline for its introduction.

“At this point, the Public Treasury Act already has provisions for an unemployment insurance fund,” he said.

“I don’t believe we will see legislative amendments. What you will hear about moving forward is how the fund would be administered and the mechanism for funding it. We are still doing that work right now.”

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Published May 03, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated May 03, 2021 at 7:15 am)

Minimum wage details to be made public this week

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