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Hayward proposes minimum wage of up to $16.40 per hour

Jason Hayward, Minister of Economy and Labour, at a press conference on September 1, 2022 (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)(Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Government has proposed that the minimum wage should be set at between $16 and $16.40 per hour, which would make it one of the highest in the world.

In addition, hospitality workers, whose income is a combination of wages and gratuities, are to be paid a minimum of $12 and $12.30 per hour.

Jason Hayward, the Economy and Labour Minister, made the announcement before Labour Day celebrations this morning.

In a statement, he said: “As the Minister for Economy and Labour, I cannot tell you how pleased I am to announce that after decades of consecutive governments being accused of ‘kicking the can down the road’, this Government will implement a statutory minimum wage rate 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 will be $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 cap of 2.5 per cent for inflation.

He added: “This Government continues to demonstrate its commitment to workers. We have taken a human-centred approach. The implementation of a minimum wage reflects the social justice ethos of the Progressive Labour Party government, ensuring that a fair day's wage is paid for a fair day's work.

“And so, designed to be a statutory wage floor, it is proposed that Bermuda's minimum wage will 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 primarily receive remuneration through commission will have a minimum wage set at 75 per cent of the ordinary minimum wage, equating to a fixed rate of between $12 and $12.30.”

Mr Hayward also announced the publication 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 per hour. The proposed $16 to $16.40 rate would be 52 per cent of the average hourly wage in Bermuda.

In May this year, the Government was criticised by trade unions for “dropping the ball” on the minimum wage.

Mr Hayward added today: “Since the 2020 election, the Government has launched the National Jobs Strategy and the Youth Employment Strategy, in addition to many other policy initiatives, which aim to promote economic security for workers across all job sectors and experience levels. Building a wage floor is another feature of the Economic Recovery Plan, which will improve the lives of many Bermudians.

“Now more than ever, it is crucial to establish a minimum wage to ensure that all segments of our society have access to their basic needs. This Government promises to provide social protection to all Bermudians.

“Although more work must be done to achieve a living wage rate for Bermuda, this is a monumental step. Workers will now be assured a respectable and decent wage as it sets a basic standard for all employers when hiring staff for their businesses.“

According to the position paper, members of the Commission were told that from a business perspective a minimum wage of $15 “could be tolerable” but an hourly minimum wage of $18 might result have negative impacts such as job losses.

The paper said that the introduction of a minimum wage was important now because of economic pressures on households.

“Over the last several years, the global economy has felt unprecedented pressures from factors including the health pandemic, war and devastation related to climate change.

“These variables have resulted in labour shortages, increased strain on global supply chains and ultimately have negatively impacted the price consumers pay for many basic goods and services.

“Government must remain agile and responsive to these changes as they impact our local economy. Therefore, not dissimilar to the responses in other jurisdictions, it is crucial now more than ever to establish a minimum wage 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 comprehensive minimum wage is fundamental to ensuring that we progress as a just and equitable society.”

The paper also highlighted low-paid positions held by Bermudians, with the lowest – sound equipment operators, sports coaches and social hostesses – receiving a median of $21,000 in gross annual revenue working 35 hours a week.

A similar list of low-paid positions held by non-Bermudians included motorcycle mechanic ($24,273), building structure cleaners ($24,600) and assistant housekeepers (24,857).

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Published September 06, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated September 06, 2022 at 8:00 am)

Hayward proposes minimum wage of up to $16.40 per hour

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