Labour Minister On Wage Commission Report

May 21, 2021 | 7 Comments

The Wage Commission submitted three options for a minimum wage — $13.19, $15.71, and $17.28 — and the Government will review the recommendations “with an aim to table a Wage Bill in Parliament that will establish a statutory minimum wage in alignment with a living wage regime,” Minister of Labour Jason Hayward said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [May 21], Minister Hayward said, “I rise today to lay before this Honourable House the report entitled, Recommendations for A Minimum Wage in Bermuda.

“The Wage Commission was established by the Employment [Wage Commission] Act 2019 based on a recommendation from a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on the establishment of a living and minimum wage regime. Its function is to “conduct such studies, reviews and analyses as are necessary and to make recommendations on the minimum hourly wage and the living wage rates to be prescribed” by the Minister of Labour.

“The Commission functions as an independent authority, is chaired by Mr. Cordell Riley, and consists of eight members. The Commission is charged with consulting extensively with relevant stakeholders, including representatives of employers and employees, to help determine the effect of a minimum wage on businesses.

“I table this report today as part of the Ministry of Labour’s efforts to transparently share with the public at the soonest possible opportunity, all the information that has been provided to us. We encourage discussion among all of Bermuda on the setting of appropriate rates.

“The Commission submitted three options for a minimum wage, depending on what is expected to be achieved.

  • Option 1: “A minimum wage of $13.19, which is 42% of the median hourly wage in 2019.
  • Option 2: “A minimum wage of $15.71, which is 50% of the median hourly wage. This option is at the threshold of the poverty level, thus setting a wage level that is not below the poverty level.
  • Option 3: “A minimum wage of $17.28, which is 55% of the median hourly wage. At this level, the wage is set at the lower bounds of a livable wage. A minimum wage at this level would pave the way for the transition to a livable wage.

“While some have expressed concerns about the production of the Wage Commission’s Report and the publishing of this report in this format, we believed it was important for all stakeholders to digest the unabridged report. Businesses can be assured that the Government will take a measured approach as it considers the way forward.

“Following this, the Government will review the recommendations and considerations contained in the reports with an aim to table a Wage Bill in Parliament that will establish a statutory minimum wage in alignment with a living wage regime.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to lay before this Honourable House the report entitled, Recommendations for A Minimum Wage in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, the Wage Commission [the “Commission”] was established by the Employment [Wage Commission] Act 2019 [the “Act”] based on a recommendation from a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on the establishment of a living and minimum wage regime. Its function is to “conduct such studies, reviews and analyses as are necessary and to make recommendations on the minimum hourly wage and the living wage rates to be prescribed” by the Minister of Labour.

The Commission functions as an independent authority, is chaired by Mr. Cordell Riley, and consists of eight members. The Commission is charged with consulting extensively with relevant stakeholders, including representatives of employers and employees, to help determine the effect of a minimum wage on businesses. The Commission will also work with businesses to minimize the shock on any establishment.

Mr. Speaker, according to some reports, studying the impact of a minimum wage on the economy is the most researched topic in all of economics. No matter what side of the debate you are on, you will find many studies to support your viewpoint. The Commission remained focused on its task of recommending a minimum wage for Bermuda with the knowledge that a minimum wage will assist in:

  • 1. Promoting fair compensation for employees;
  • 2. Improving an individual’s quality of life;
  • 3. Preventing exploitation of workers; and
  • 4. Preventing working families that are below the poverty line from receiving what many would consider to be unlivable wages.

Mr. Speaker, most modern, developed countries have a minimum wage regime. More than 90% of countries designated as International Labour Organization [ILO] member states currently have a statutory wage scheme of some sort. Considerable evidence-based studies have outlined the many benefits realized by both the employers and employees in countries where a minimum wage has been instituted.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate that the debate surrounding the introduction of a mandatory statutory remuneration regime has concluded. With the passage of the Employment [Wage Commission] Act 2019, that debate has been settled and the questions now become how and when do we implement this regime. I table this report today as part of the Ministry of Labour’s efforts to transparently share with the public at the soonest possible opportunity, all the information that has been provided to us. We encourage discussion among all of Bermuda on the setting of appropriate rates.

Mr. Speaker, the Commission submitted three options for a minimum wage, depending on what is expected to be achieved.

  • Option 1: A minimum wage of $13.19, which is 42% of the median hourly wage in 2019.
  • Option 2: A minimum wage of $15.71, which is 50% of the median hourly wage. This option is at the threshold of the poverty level, thus setting a wage level that is not below the poverty level.
  • Option 3: A minimum wage of $17.28, which is 55% of the median hourly wage. At this level, the wage is set at the lower bounds of a livable wage. A minimum wage at this level would pave the way for the transition to a livable wage.

Mr. Speaker, while some have expressed concerns about the production of the Wage Commission’s Report and the publishing of this report in this format, we believed it was important for all stakeholders to digest the unabridged report. Businesses can be assured that the Government will take a measured approach as it considers the way forward.

Mr. Speaker, any business currently operating with a business model that is predicated on poverty wages should seek to change their business model.

In closing, the Ministry extends sincere thanks to the Commission for its work on this matter and awaits receipt of its second report on a Living Wage.

Following this, the Government will review the recommendations and considerations contained in the reports with an aim to table a Wage Bill in Parliament that will establish a statutory minimum wage in alignment with a living wage regime.

Thank You, Mr. Speaker.

The full Wage Commission Report follows below [PDF here]:

Read More About

Category: All, Business, News

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    I can see a lot of small businesses in Bermuda going broke. The exception for family members of family run businesses is not enough.

    • Unseen but well heard says:

      How do when majority of business pay over 15 an hour now. If any business is paying less than that or even 13 then they deservedly they need to go out of business because that is slave labor below 13. Heck 15 is slave labor in Bermuda…. So no this is an effort to get rid of cheap labor that has decimated Bermudian jobs and actually hire locals who will spend the money here in there home country.

  2. Question says:

    And unemployment will go up, of course, from its already astronomical levels.

  3. Pickled says:

    Keep an eye on inflation now and over the next year.

    Ministry of Finance – you need to start making the politicians aware of what is coming.

  4. Question says:

    The report is remarkably poorly written. Unfortunately, we don’t have talented or thoughtful people running Bermuda.

  5. trufth says:

    Prepare for $50 hamburgers cooked and served by the owner himself because he can’t afford to hire any staff.

  6. Joke says:

    Now even the jobs that the low earners enjoy will be gone! Well done PLP! Another absolutely stupid idea that will result in the rest of us having to carry them because they will be out of jobs!

Leave a Reply