The House of Assembly has approved legislation that will go into effect in June of 2020 and establish the minimum wage for employees at US$16.40 per hour.
With the passage of the Employment (Minimum Wage Entitlement Bill 2022), employees on the island will have the “right of entitlement” to a statutory minimum wage. According to the most recent government statistics, about a quarter of the approximately 35,500 occupations on the island are held by foreigners.
The proposed legislation outlines processes to check whether employees who are entitled to the minimum wage are receiving it, as well as rules that companies must adhere to in order to demonstrate that they are meeting their commitments.
Enforcement officials will have access to company records to check for compliance, and any employers found in violation will be subject to financial penalties.
The minimum wage project began in 2019, according to Economy and Labour Minister Jason Hayward, who also assured lawmakers that it will benefit workers in Bermuda while providing employers with “necessary protections.”
However, Jarion Richardson, the deputy leader of the opposition One Bermuda Alliance (OBA), questioned the timing of the law and suggested the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) government was trying to rush it through for political reasons.
He claimed that the information utilised by the Minimum Wage Commission to determine the $US16.40 number was old and questioned the lack of an economic effect study.
Richardson said there was a chance that a minimum wage may raise prices, noting that inflation was now at about 5%. He acknowledged the problem of income disparity, but he questioned whether raising the minimum wage would benefit people who were less fortunate.
“I’m not sure which problem this legislation is trying to fix. It is a blunt instrument and there are more refined ways,” he added.