Cayman Islands urged to increase minimum wage by nearly 50%

GEORGE TOWN, CAYMAN ISLANDS — The government of the Cayman Islands is being strongly urged to adopt a 46% increase to improve the lives of the lowest-earning workers and also improve employment prospects across the nation.

This recommendation was made by the Cayman Islands’ Minimum Wage Advisory Committee (MWAC) after years of research, deliberation, public consultation and engagement with the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Its finalized report was only just submitted to the government and made public this year, amid intense public anticipation. In its report, the MWAC said its recommendations target two key objectives:

  1. Address exploitation and provide real relief to the lowest-paid workers in the Cayman Island
  2. Improve employment opportunities for Caymanians in relation to decreasing the demand for imported workers

The MWAC acknowledged that achieving the second objective may be difficult to achieve solely through a minimum wage increase. However, it argued that the first objective could be achieved.

jobs in Cayman Islands

The MWAC recommendations also include specifications about workers who earn gratuity or commission.

“Based on the analysis of the data provided from the MWAC public consultation exercise and various other national data sources, the MWAC recommends CI$8.75 gross per hour as a fair and acceptable minimum wage rate that would achieve Objective #1,” the MWAC said in its report.

“The MWAC considers this a fair wage that would be affordable to most employers and beneficial to low-wage employees…

“The MWAC unanimously agreed that the minimum wage rate should apply equally to all persons regardless of gender and immigration status (i.e. Caymanians and non-Caymanians).

“The minimum wage applies to all employees, including those in the domestic or household sector and by organizations legally defined as non-governmental, not-for-profit and charitable organizations and employees (as defined in the labour law) of all ages.”

Additionally, the MWAC suggested that, beginning from July 2024 to June 2025, at least 75% of the minimum wage rate must come directly from that worker’s employer.

“Starting July 2029, there should be no gratuities contribution to the minimum wage,” the MWAC suggested.

“After that, the gratuity contribution to the prevailing minimum wage will be reduced by 5% annually, with the reduction occurring in July of each year until June 2029.”

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    Cayman jobs among the world’s lowest paid

    As of right now, the Cayman Islands has one of the lowest minimum wage rates in the world, standing at just CI$6 or USD$7.20.

    The Cayman Islands.

    The MWAC noted that its last report recommending a wage increase was in 2015 and, by now, it is “well overdue” for review.

    “The 2015 report was generally well-received across the board, however, the cost of living in the Cayman Islands at that time was still high in relation to the minimum implemented,” the MWAC said.

    “With this in mind, the 2015 report included a supplementary recommendation that the national minimum wage should undergo a full review every four years to suggest reforms to improve the process and ensure the existing minimum wage is still relevant and effective.”

    It added, “If the government decides to accept the recommendations of this report, the groundwork will be set for increasing the current minimum wage, and as previously provided in 2015, the framework to guide the process for ongoing and consistent future reviews…that should benefit the economy and labour relations in the future.”

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