Editorial for February 21: Minimum wage sounds good


A minimum wage for the Cayman Islands.

Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it?

But in reality what exactly would it
mean for our country and our economy?

That’s something the people we elected
are going to have to figure out.

On the one hand it sounds only right and
fair to guarantee a minimum wage that a worker can earn.

We have far too many expatriate workers
in the Cayman Islands who are earning wages that are embarrassingly low.

To make those wages work, the workers
often bunk with several other people – sometimes 10 or more to one small living
space – to make ends meet.

And frankly, that’s why they are here;
because no Caymanian would work for the paltry wages being paid.

But what would a minimum wage in the
Cayman Islands look like?

And more importantly, how would
businesses react?

Would a minimum wage drive up the costs
of goods and services, making that minimum wage even more difficult for the
earner to make a decent living?

The Caymanian Compass is not arguing
against a minimum wage. Indeed, there should be some kind of threshold that
ensures Caymanians can get decent paying jobs to thrive in their own country.

What we are saying is that there should
not be a knee-jerk reaction to this particular topic.

One of the biggest employers in the
Cayman Islands is the service industry where employees are paid what appears on
the surface to be very little, but in reality they earn a pretty decent living
through tips; that is if they are on top of their game and continually make
customers happy.

In many countries with a minimum wage,
it doesn’t apply to the service industry.

That’s just one of the issues to be
determined in the entire minimum wage debate.

There are many nuances to the minimum
wage issue that have to be addressed before the Cayman Islands can firmly adopt
this concept of fair pay for everyone working on our shores.


  1. The other problem is how do you enforce it.

    Despite determined efforts by those involved, it is already proving near impossible to ensure that employers comply with existing legislation on medical insurance and pension payments.

    Trying to regulate payment of a minimum wage in a country that has no centralised employee database such as a social security or tax system is also going to be next to impossible.

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