A report considering the feasibility of establishing a minimum wage is expected to go to the Cabinet in October, according to an announcement made Monday by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.
The Minimum Wage Advisory Committee, consisting of 11 members, including equal representation of labor and management groups [four apiece], will be assisted by government workers in what has been described as a “period of research” into the minimum wage issue.
The committee’s review will help determine the impact of establishing a minimum wage in the Cayman Islands. The committee is expected to investigate the impact on the local economy of setting a minimum wage at “various price points,” according to the Chamber.
Legislators earlier rejected a private members motion seeking ratification of a $5 per hour minimum wage. However, Employment Minister Tara Rivers said during the debate on the motion that the government would bring a proposal for a minimum wage at an unspecified rate for consideration under the current provisions of the Cayman Islands Labour Law. Those provisions include the formation of a Minimum Wage Advisory Committee to recommend a base wage rate.
Ms. Rivers said the government believes that passing a minimum wage without conducting proper research into the matter would be reckless.
“As minister of employment, I am not interested in putting forward a regime without knowing how this will be implemented,” Ms. Rivers said during the debate on North Side MLA Ezzard Miller’s motion for the base wage. “[It is] incumbent on this government to try to determine what the potential effects of introducing a minimum wage would have on the [private] sector.”
Mr. Miller, who has put forward the same motion backing a $5 per hour minimum wage for Cayman before, said he was unsure whether the $5 figure is “correct,” but he said it is a place to start and “get it done.”
“Can we ever study this long enough or hard enough to absolutely calculate the correct amount?” Mr. Miller asked. “I don’t think we can.”
Given the current cost of living in Cayman, Ms. Rivers questioned what a $5 per hour minimum wage would achieve. She also wondered what such a proposal might cost in the short term to medium term.
Mr. Miller, who was the only member of the Legislative Assembly to debate his most recent motion, aside from Ms. Rivers, said he had heard similar talk from previous education minister and from Premier Alden McLaughlin, who supported the implementation of a minimum wage during the People’s Progressive Movement’s 2005-2009 term.
The Cayman Islands Labour Law currently allows for the establishment of a minimum wage. It sets out the requirements for the advisory committee and the process of recommending a base wage to Cabinet.
No minimum wage has been recommended under the existing legal provisions since the last revision of the Labour Law a decade ago.