Violators of minimum wage law investigated

Several firms are under investigation on suspicion of failing to pay employees the legal minimum wage, officials revealed this week.

Under questioning in Finance Committee, Director of the Department of Labor and Pensions Bennard Ebanks, said his inspectors were investigating complaints relating to several firms. He said these inquiries, including into unnamed security firms, were still in the investigation stages and the evidence would ultimately be referred to the Department for Public Prosecutions to decide if an offence had been committed.

The $6-an-hour minimum wage was introduced March 1.

East End legislator Arden McLean said he continued to see newspaper adverts for jobs below that threshold and questioned what was being done about it.

Mr. Ebanks said his department had several investigations in the works but none that had led to prosecution, as yet.

Asked specifically if any security firms had been investigated, Mr. Ebanks said there were ongoing investigations in that sector.

He said the process was time consuming and involved analysis of documents from the companies before a referral was made to the DPP for a decision.

“There are instances where the analysis is complete and at the point where we forward it to the DPP, but we want legal advice before we say that is capable of being prosecuted.”

Mr. McLean said he found it hard to believe that there was full compliance, given the opposition from some in the business community to a minimum wage.

“All the hullabaloo was for nothing then? [People saying] we can’t sustain a minimum wage was for nothing? They are all complying? A couple of investigations but it has been in place now for three months and nobody has been dragged off to court to say they are not complying?”

Christen Suckoo, chief officer in the Ministry of Employment, Education and Gender Affairs, said the immigration department was not approving work permits for jobs below the minimum wage.