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Effective Monday (Jan. 29), the national minimum wage will be increased by 14 per cent from $2,800 to $3,200 per 40-hour work week, while the hourly rate will move from $70 to $80.
The new rates, which were approved in the House of Representatives yesterday (Jan. 23), will also see minimum wages for industrial security guards increasing by 13.52 per cent from $4,140 to $4,700 per 40-hour week, and hourly rates moving from $103.50 to $117.50.
Allowances for industrial security guards will also go up, with laundry allowance moving from $20 per hour to $22 per hour; firearm allowance up from $21 per hour to $25 per hour; and dog handlers’ allowance up from $15 per hour to $17 per hour. In addition, life insurance for security guards will be moved from $1.2 million to $1.5 million, with double indemnity protection both during and outside of work hours.
Making his presentation on the increases, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier, pointed out that the minimum wage was not the recommended rate at which workers were to be paid.
“It is the rate below which workers should not be paid. The national minimum wage is a necessary guide. The government continues to insist that companies and individuals who can afford to pay more than the minimum wage should pay more,” he said.
While commending employers, who paid above the minimum wage, Mr. Kellier said that for those who broke the law, by paying below the rates, the Ministry, through its Pay and Conditions of Employment branch, would be stepping up inspections of workplaces and would be more vigilant in the investigation of complaints.
Further to this, a Bill to amend the Minimum Wage Act and related Orders, which was tabled in the House last week, will serve to increase the fines and penalties for non-compliance to more realistic levels. “We have to ensure that periodic increases in the minimum wage are accompanied by effective compliance measures,” Mr. Kellier stated.
Turning to concerns of some employers, about the relatively short time between the announcement of new wages and the effective date, he indicated that the Ministry was doing everything to assist the National Minimum Wage Advisory Commission to complete its annual reviews quickly, while ensuring that there was enough time for consultations.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for South Eastern Clarendon, Rudyard Spencer, urged the Minister to have the Commission for the next review of minimum wages focus on the issue of a “livable” wage. He also recommended that a mid-year review of the minimum wage be conducted.