Minimum wage bill includes penalties for employers not meeting legal requirements
Amendments to lay the groundwork for a $16.40 minimum wage in Bermuda are set to be debated at the next sitting of the House of Assembly.
Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, tabled the Employment (Minimum Wage Entitlement) Bill 2022 on Friday, which introduces provisions to give employees in Bermuda a “right of entitlement” to a statutory minimum wage.
Mr Hayward said that once it was introduced on June 1 next year, the island’s minimum wage would be one of the highest in the world.
The Government previously said it intended to introduce a minimum hourly wage of between $16 and $16.40 with hospitality workers, whose income is a combination of wages and gratuities, to have their minimum wage set between $12 and $12.30 per hour.
Mr Hayward said: “All employees are entitled to be paid for hours worked and should have the confidence in knowing that their employer is complying with its obligations pursuant to the Bill by paying them at least, the statutory minimum hourly wage rate.”
He told the House that the Bill established a procedure to determine if workers who were entitled to the minimum wage were receiving it and required employers to retain records to show they had complied with their obligations.
“An employee who has reasonable grounds to believe that their employer has paid them at a rate which is less than the minimum hourly wage, may make a request to access their records in this regard,” Mr Hayward said.
“Labour inspectors will have the authority to investigate an employee’s complaint against his employer pursuant to the Bill and issue enforcement notices to employers who have failed to correctly remunerate an employee or employees.
“Employers who breach the Bill will be subject to a civil penalty regime, which will entail a faster, less laborious process for handling breaches.
“This penalty will be calculated at a rate equal to twice the amount of the minimum hourly wage in respect of the worker that the failure relates to for each day that the failure persists.”
Mr Hayward said the introduction of a minimum wage would improve the lives of workers on the island, particularly those who work in low-wage positions.
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.