First of all, a minimum wage is for minimum age workers, so I don’t understand the logic behind some persons, who are not minimum wage workers, being scared that their employers will immediately drop whatever wage they are making to minimum standards.
It does not work that way in any other part of the world, so why should it happen here?
If necessary, perhaps salary guidelines could be established for all scales of our work force, but that would not mean that an employer cannot, and should not, pay an employee more in any of the scales, just not less.
What I have to say mostly reiterates a lot of what I think, and have heard and read on the subject.
We need a minimum wage law so that Caymanians can apply for some of those jobs that only expatriate workers will hold at the moment because they will work for less than a Caymanian, and there is no law to force employers to pay the expatriate the same as the Caymanian deserves.
The expatriate workers, who are absolutely necessary, but are some of our lower wage earners, also need to survive. They find it difficult to exist once they start working here because of the higher cost of living than wherever they have come from.
Some of them cannot afford decent accommodations and this is not healthy.
If slums are created through overcrowded accommodations, this will have an adverse effect on our main industry – tourism.
I believe that teenagers (perhaps 13-18) holding summer jobs, or after-school jobs, (e.g. bagging at grocery stores, etc.) could be excluded from the minimum wage law requirements, even if it is felt that guidelines should be established for them.
The minimum wage in the US was raised recently to US$6.55 an hour, and the cost of living is much higher here.
I suggest a minimum wage in the Cayman Islands of at least CI$6 an hour, although $8 an hour is more reasonable as some time ago $1,500 per month was established as the poverty line in the Cayman Islands.
For someone to earn $1,500 even at $8 an hour, they would have to work overtime.
E.g. $8 x 48hrs (a 6-day week) = $384 x 4 weeks works out to $1536 per month.
The law can always be changed later, so perhaps we should start with $6 and then gradually increase the minimum wage.
Would any of you reading this like to work for less than $6 an hour?
Perhaps social consideration could be given in the law to those persons who receive tips, to earn less than the minimum wage (e.g. those working in the hospitality industry such as in restaurants), provided that at the end of the day, with tips, their wages amount to $6 and hour or more.
Alternatively, the restaurant owners could just raise their price by 15 per cent (the present gratuity charge) and then not charge the gratuity (customers would still be at liberty to tip, if they desired), the customer probably wouldn’t even notice the hike in price because they are used to paying the 15 per cent gratuity anyway.
The job advertisements should also be examined carefully to see that they meet the salary scale of the particular job and that the job has not been advertised offering a lower rate to attract expatriate workers and deter Caymanians; or, on the other hand, advertised for a higher wage but, after the expatriate arrives, then lowered, and the expatriate is threatened to be sent back if they will not work for the lesser amount.
If employers cannot afford to pay the minimum wage (which would include benefits such as health insurance and pension, etc.) then perhaps they cannot afford to be in business.
Recently, I heard the excuse that the minimum wage law needs to be postponed because the economy is bad.
I would suggest that this is the very reason why we need a minimum wage: We need Caymanians working (there are many without jobs right now) and they need decent wages, or they might end up applying for social service assistance and that will cost the Government (us) more than the loss of work permit fees, which is another reason I have heard mentioned as a probable reason why the Government does not want to implement a minimum wage law.
I heard someone wondering how a live-in helper’s wage would be computed if a minimum wage law was implemented, when they are receiving accommodation and food from their employer.
The wages in a case like this could be computed by deducting whatever they think food and accommodation would cost, e.g. $300, from their salary, e.g. $1,152 per month (which is what a helper would earn working 6 days a week at $6 an hour); so, per month, the employer would pay her $852 per month ($288 a week). (I haven’t added in the overtime pay that the employer should pay after 48 hours, which is what is stipulated in the Labour Law). This live-in arrangement would have to be made clear in the work permit application form in order to comply with the law.
I think that politicians should stop the excuses and get on with implementing a minimum wage law.
Marilee J. Parsons