Chamber’s concern over minimum wage
The potential side effects of a minimum wage must be considered before action is taken, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
Cordell Riley, the chairman of the Wage Commission, announced last week that the Commission had identified three options for a possible minimum hourly wage – $13.20, $15.75 and $17.30.
A spokeswoman for the Chamber said the body understood the challenges faced by the Commission and were grateful for the hard work of community leaders.
The spokeswoman added: “We are cognizant of the second stage of the commitment – to produce a report on living wage, and await the results of this analysis.
“While that work takes place, we are mindful of the potential unintended impacts of the announcement.”
The Chamber said a minimum wage had the potential to hurt job opportunities for Bermudian youths and junior employees who seek introductory roles that include training.
The spokeswoman added: “We would like to see this clarified further in any future legislation.”
The Chamber also raised concerns about the possibility of a “cascading impact”.
The spokeswoman said: “This may result from when employees who move up to a higher wage level now achieve proximity to other employees at a level above, which leads to an escalation of wages across the board.”
The Chamber also said consideration must be given to the possibility that increased wages in some sectors would force price increases and higher costs of living.
The spokeswoman added: “The Chamber appreciates the enormity of the task ahead.
“It looks forward to furthering consultation on behalf of its membership before any final legislation.”
Mr Riley said: “Some feedback received by the Commission was that some employers would have to take measures to achieve this wage while others may go out of business altogether.”
He added that, despite the concerns, there was strong evidence that a minimum wage could benefit employers and staff.
Mr Riley said: “Among the more developed nations of the world, Bermuda is among the few that does not have a minimum wage, and the goal is to remove us from that list.”
The Commission will also examine a “livable” wage, which will be higher than a minimum wage.
Its report will be tabled in the House of Assembly next Friday, and the commission is expected to publish its findings into a living wage rate early next year.