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Labour department will ensure workers get their due: Hayward

Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, on the 2022 Throne Speech (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A new labour department will allow the Government to ensure that workers are afforded their full benefits — including the upcoming minimum wage of $16.40 an hour.

Jason Hayward, the economy and labour minister, said there would be no increase to the government ranks, as the positions created would draw on existing unfunded positions.

“It’s a one-for-one switch,” Mr Hayward added. “The total complement of government employees does not increase.”

The department, announced in the 2022 Throne Speech, won approval from Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, who said workers’ rights would be strengthened.

Mr Hayward said the department would take over the existing labour relations section and would add inspection officers to check on compliance.

He added: “We’re also looking to see whether or not we can get a labour economist on board as well.

“If we want to be proactive, when you put measures in place such as minimum wage, you want to ensure you have officers in place to ensure employers are enforcing the regulations.

“We have just done a full suite of changes to our labour code, and we have increased benefits across the board.

“We want to ensure employers and employees are adhering to the standards, and have a proper department in place that can focus on those core things — the promotion of labour standards, enforcement and monitoring, and the development of labour policy.”

He said putting the minimum wage in place was “fundamental to ensuring we progress as a just and equitable society”.

Mr Hayward singled out the categories of hospitality workers, barbers and hairdressers, caregivers, clerks and cleaners as standing to benefit.

“I am confident this will improve the take-home pay of a good portion of workers.”

For workers depending on tips and service charges, Mr Hayward said gratuities would be combined with a base wage to add up to $16.40 an hour.

“If gratuities and base wages do not add up to $16.40, the employer will be responsible for ensuring that $16.40 is paid.”

He did not have a figure for the number of workers on the island currently taking in less than that amount.

He added that the Financial Assistance programme would be reformed, with recipients permitted to “hold or receive gifts up to $2,500” and have savings or investments up to $5,000.

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Published November 14, 2022 at 7:38 am (Updated November 14, 2022 at 7:38 am)

Labour department will ensure workers get their due: Hayward

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