The House of Representatives, on Tuesday (July 24), approved two motions that will increase the national minimum wage, and the minimum wage for industrial security guards.
The motions, which fall under the Minimum Wage Act and were piloted by Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Shahine Robinson, are the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Order, 2018, and the Minimum Wage Industrial Security Guards (Amendment) Order, 2018.
In June this year, Mrs Robinson announced a 12.9 per cent increase in the national minimum wage, from $6,200 to $7,000 per 40-hour work week. Additionally, security guards will receive $9,700, up from $8,854 per 40-hour work week, reflecting a 9.6 per cent increase.
Speaking during the sitting of the House, Mrs. Robinson said the new rates, which were approved by Cabinet, will take effect August 1, 2018.
Mrs. Robinson said laundry allowance for industrial security guards will increase from $40.30 to $44.00 per hour; firearm premium allowance will move from $44.30 to $48.00 per hour; while dog handlers’ premium allowance will be increased from $29.80 to $33 per hour.
She further informed that life insurance coverage payable to security guards who are killed or injured in the line of duty will be increased from $2.5 million double indemnity to $2.75 million double indemnity.
Mrs. Robinson said the increases establish a minimum threshold for the payment of wages, and urged all employers with the financial means to pay their employees wages in excess of these sums.
“The setting of the minimum wage by the Minister is just a guideline to ensure that these low-income earners are not paid below a minimum standard. However, the legislation does not preclude employers from paying sums that are in excess of the minimum wage specified by Parliament,” she said.
The Labour Minister informed that the new rates resulted from recommendations from the National Minimum Wage Commission, which were submitted to the Ministry following public consultations.
Additionally, Mrs. Robinson said several factors were taken into consideration in arriving at the revised rates.
These include the current state of the Jamaican economy, the ability of the employers to absorb an increase, the increased cost of utilities and transportation, the 2016 and 2017 inflation rates, the Government’s economic recovery programme, and the current International Monetary Fund Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement. Mrs. Robinson said the Minimum Wage Act is one of Jamaica’s most important pieces of labour legislations, adding that safeguarding the country’s workers is critical to the society’s advancement.
“It is the duty of any Government to ensure that our workers are not placed in a position where their earning is below a certain level,” she said.
The Minimum Wage Act was passed in 1938 to facilitate the payment of wages above or equal to, but not below a statutory level for certain types of work.
The Act, among other things, provides for the fixing of a minimum wage, establishment of a Minimum Wage Advisory Commission and appointment of officers to inspect records to ensure compliance with the provisions of the legislation.
Photo: Rudranath Fraser