Minimum wage coming in six weeks

Government tackling inequality, premier tells conference

Government will introduce a $6-an-hour minimum wage on March 1, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced at the Cayman Economic Outlook conference at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Tuesday.

Following the recommendations of an advisory panel report last year, there will also be a lower threshold of $4.50 for workers who receive gratuities, room and board or similar benefits.

Mr. McLaughlin, in a speech that chimed with the conference’s theme of inequality, highlighted the minimum wage and the planned Labour Law among the measures government is taking to address income disparity in the Cayman Islands.

Premier Alden McLaughlin delivers his state of the nation address on Tuesday at the Fidelity Cayman Economic Outlook conference at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. - PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY
Premier Alden McLaughlin delivers his state of the nation address on Tuesday at the Fidelity Cayman Economic Outlook conference at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

Of the minimum wage, he said, “We believe it will help reduce the inequality caused by the low wages that both Caymanians and expatriates earn in some parts of our economy.”

A resolution of the Legislative Assembly is still required before the minimum wage, approved by Cabinet in May last year, becomes law. It was expected to be folded into the new Labour Law but could be introduced as stand-alone legislation if that bill, which has drawn opposition from the business community, is delayed.

Markus Mueri of NM Ventures Group, which owns several restaurants including KARoo and Abacus, said he had not been aware of the March 1 implementation date for the minimum wage.

But he believes the private sector is ready for the change, which is expected to impact the hospitality, security and domestic worker trades in particular.

“I had not heard about it until this morning, but for us, it is not a problem. We pay that much anyway,” said Mr. Mueri.

He said he would, however, like to see more detail on how the law would be enforced. The minimum wage advisory committee estimated that the minimum wage would apply to almost 6,000 employees in the Cayman Islands.

Mr. McLaughlin said in his speech that there were times when government needed to intervene to tackle economic inequality.

“This is not about government acting as a trade union but it is about recognizing that sometimes the existing imbalance in economic power needs to be tilted back a little.”
He acknowledged that the proposed Labour Law had been more controversial.

“We recognize business concerns over some of the proposals and we are listening, but businesses too must recognize the inequalities in the labor market,” he added, highlighting the increase in the retirement age from 60 to 65 as an important measure in the bill.

The Labour Relations Bill, which represents a complete rewrite of the current Labour Law, would create a number of significant changes, particularly in the area of employment contracts and how dismissal of workers is handled.

Mr. McLaughlin also highlighted in his speech government’s new jobs program, called “Ready2Work KY,” which involves government paying the wages of private sector employees during a trial period as an incentive to firms to take a chance on unemployed Caymanians.
He said government is “aggressively” tackling unemployment and urged the private sector to do its part.

“At the end of the day, we expect that those Caymanians finding jobs will give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay and I encourage those of you who may have a job to offer, to make a Caymanian your first choice,” he said.

Mr. McLaughlin also highlighted the tourism school, addressing pay disparity for civil servants, and reducing duty on fuel in an effort to cut utility bills as actions his government has taken to reduce inequality in Cayman.

Earlier in the day, Anwer Sunderji, the CEO of event organizer Fidelity Bank, introduced the theme of the conference by highlighting growing global inequality as a potential threat to world political stability and the Cayman Islands business model.

Citing recent news reports that the richest 1 percent of people in the world control more wealth than the rest of the world’s population combined, he said, “Most made money through successful companies and innovation, but concentrating wealth to this extent gives rich political donors far too much political power and ability to shape the rules that govern the economy, to undermine social mobility, democracy and economic stability.

“They have all benefited from a system of trade, tax and regulatory rules tipped in their favor at the expense of wage earners.”

He added, “Even Oxfam is jumping on this bandwagon. Using data from Credit Suisse, it is asking for tax havens to be banned.

“Clearly, unless something tangible is done about this matter, the Cayman Islands and other international banking centers will feel the backlash.”


  1. $6.00 is not enough. If you are going to introduce a minimum wage they should make it a livable wage. Lets not forget that Cayman Islands is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. If you were to work 40 hrs per week you are brining in what a mere $240.00 then you have to take 5% off for pension and however much for health insurance (the horrible SHIC is all you could afford,) what if you have kids and are a single parent?. Good finance says you should not pay more than 1/3 of your income on rent… Please tell me where you can live for $350 per month in Cayman that is not a rat hole. You would be lucky if you could eat at the end of the day after you pay your other bills. The minimum wage they are introducing is just setting up some people of Cayman for poverty and will also force companies to bring in workers from forgiven countires where $6 is more then they would make at home. The only light I see is the companies who are paying less then $6.00 now (which I would classify as slave labour) to force them to pay better as I have seen ads and know people who are working for $3-$4 USD per hour which should be a crime and now it will be. That is all 🙂

  2. Its a start and a lot of people thought it would never happen and some business owners hoped it wouldnt..

    Its a small beginning but its one that Cayman needed to realize that the pockets of business people was not the main issue.

    It was all about abolishing abuse of people.

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