Caribbean Employment

Is the Caribbean moving towards a trend of raising the minimum wage?

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Over the last several months, a number of Caribbean countries have spoken to the issue of a national minimum wage.

Bermuda, Jamaica, Guyana, Anguilla, The Bahamas among Caribbean nations to either implement or suggest minimum wage changes to come 

HAMILTON, BERMUDA — There could be a “minimum wage fever” on the horizon in the Caribbean region as, in just the past few months alone, several of the region’s governments have either suggested or outright stated their intentions to take a close look at this matter.

Among the latest of the region’s leaders to speak to this possibly was Bermuda’s Minister of Economy and Labour Jason Hayward.

Speaking on the occasion of International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, Hayward said, “The Ministry of Economy and Labour is committed to ensuring social justice and fundamental rights at work and is steadfast in its obligations to the workers of this country.

Bermuda Labour Minister Jason Hayward said his ministry is reviewing the implementation of a statutory minimum wage.

“Working in consultation with the unions and employer organizations, the ministry is conducting a targeted review of the Employment Act 2000.

“The goal is to further strengthen employee protections, focusing on equal pay for equal work, formal guidelines concerning tips and gratuities [and] wage theft protections; and establishing guidelines to ensure independent contractors are correctly classified.”

Turning his attention to minimum wage specifically, Minister Hayward added, “The ministry is currently reviewing the implementation of a statutory minimum wage that will enhance the lives of those workers considered low-income earners and ensure that all workers will have access to a fair and decent wage.

“The ministry continues to support the Wage Commission as it concludes its comprehensive review of a living wage for Bermuda.”

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    Minimum wage trend 

    Implementation or increase of a minimum wage in respective Caribbean nations could have a phenomenal impact considering the prevalence of low-earning households.

    The governments of Bermuda, Jamaica, Guyana, Anguilla and The Bahamas have all spoken to the question of minimum wage in recent months.

    Governments, job board and talent acquisition services like Caribbean Employment Services Inc., training agencies and other organizations help to bridge the gap between employers and job seekers, thereby helping residents achieve gainful employment.

    However, the region’s struggle with the informal job sector has been widely documented and remains a concern.

    A national minimum wage alongside other employment initiatives might help those who do become employed to eke out a sustainable living.

    Just last month, Jamaica raised its minimum wage by 28.5 percent; while last December, Guyana implemented a seven percent pay raise for its sugar workers.

    At the beginning of this year, Anguilla’s premier promised that minimum wage legislation is on his administration’s agenda; while just the month prior, The Bahamas’ prime minister likewise hinted at minimum wage talks to come.

    As such, it would not be unusual to see neighbouring Caribbean nations make similar pronouncements in the near future.

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