Contributions start at 3% of gross salary, matched by employer, then increase to 5%
KINGSTON, JAMAICA — Some 350,000 tourism workers in Jamaica can now benefit from the government’s Tourism Workers Pension Scheme that was officially introduced on January 1, 2022, and which is being hailed as a “groundbreaking” new benefit for the industry’s workers.
According to Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, the pension scheme was already approved two years ago but its rollout was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, he asserted that its introduction comes not a moment too soon as tourism in the nation rapidly recovers and “workers can again look forward to a future that is filled with optimism”.
“People are the most important element of a destination’s supply side,” the minister said.
“Human capital capacity-building empowers our tourism workers and elevates the quality of tourism-related services, resulting in enhanced benefits and profits for all tourism stakeholders.”
He added, “Therefore, they ought to be rewarded for their dedication and should feel as if they are truly benefiting from the sector.
“Equipping them to capitalize on the growing opportunities for high-skilled employment in the industry is one way in which we are doing this.”
Financially secure future for tourism workers
According to a statement by the Jamaican government, “The Tourism Workers Pension Scheme is a defined contributory plan supported by legislation and will require mandatory contributions by workers and employers.”
Minister Bartlett explained, “The thinking behind the pension scheme was to ensure that the workers of our industry can have an opportunity to look forward to a future that will secure them and their families.
“…Come January 1, some 350,000 tourism workers can begin registration for a sound and worry-free financial future.”
As he went into detail about how the programme will work, Bartlett said, “The pension scheme covers all workers ages 18 to 59 years in the tourism sector — whether permanent, contract or self-employed. Benefits will be payable at age 65 years or older.”
He added, “A key feature of this pension scheme is that it will allow workers to move around within the industry, taking their benefits without being penalized or losing any of their contributions.”
In its initial rollout in 2022, the contribution will be three percent of a worker’s gross salary, which will be matched by the employer. Afterwards, the contribution will increase to five percent.
Meanwhile, according to Minister Bartlett, the government will provide a $1 billion “seed” to the fund as it gets started.