House Approves Amendments to Minimum Wage Act


The House of Representatives yesterday (Feb. 6) approved amendments to the Minimum Wage Act, which will provide for increases in fines and penalties for those who did not comply with the minimum wage law.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier, who piloted the Bill, said that investigations have showed that while many employers have been complying with the provisions of the Minimum Wage Act, others were in breach by paying their workers less than the minimum wage. “It is also clear that the fines under the Act are outdated and as such, do not serve as an effective deterrent,” he pointed out.
The amendments, he said, would empower the Minister of Labour and Social Security to “amend or vary any fines under the Act by order, subject to affirmative resolution of Parliament”.
Under the Bill, the fine for a breach of section 4B (3) of the legislation will increase from $200 to $250,000; breach of section 5(1) will move from $100 to $100,000; section 8 (2) from $200 to $250,000; section 11 from $20 to $100,000; section 12 (3) from $200 to $250,000 and section 12 (4) from $1000 to $750,000 and a reduction in the prison term from 12 months to nine months.
Section 12 (5) (c) of the Act is also being amended to replace the word ‘solicitor’ with ‘attorney at law’ and a new section 13 (2) is being added, which will provide for the imposition of penalties on conviction in a Resident Magistrate Court, of a fine not exceeding $1 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.
The Minimum Wage Act was passed in 1938 to provide for the payment of wages above or equal to, but not below a statutory level for certain types of work. Among other things, the Act provides for the fixing of a minimum wage, the establishment of a Minimum Wage Advisory Commission and the appointment of officers to inspect records to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act.

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