Jamaica Parliament Approves Minimum Wage Increases

Labour and Social Security Minister Shahine Robinson

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday July 26, 2018
– The House of Representatives in Jamaica has approved two motions that will increase the national minimum wage and the minimum wage for industrial security guards.

The motions, which fall under the Minimum Wage Act and were piloted by Labour and Social Security Minister Shahine Robinson, were the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Order, 2018, and the Minimum Wage Industrial Security Guards (Amendment) Order, 2018.

In June this year, Robinson announced a 12.9 per cent increase in the national minimum wage, from J$6,200 (US$46.71) to J$7,000 (US$52.73) per 40-hour work week. Additionally, security guards will receive J$9,700 (US$73.07), up from J$8,854 (US$66.70) per 40-hour work week, reflecting a 9.6 per cent increase.

Robinson said the new rates, which were approved by Cabinet, will take effect August 1, 2018.

She said laundry allowance for industrial security guards, firearm premium allowance, and dog handlers’ premium allowance will also be increased

The Labour Minister further indicated that life insurance coverage payable to security guards who are killed or injured in the line of duty will be increased from J$2.5 million (US$18,829) double indemnity to J$2.75 million (US$20,712) double indemnity.

Robinson said the increases establish a minimum threshold for the payment of wages, and urged all employers with the financial means to pay their employees’ wages in excess of these sums.

“The setting of the minimum wage by the Minister is just a guideline to ensure that these low-income earners are not paid below a minimum standard. However, the legislation does not preclude employers from paying sums that are in excess of the minimum wage specified by Parliament,” she said.

Robinson said the new rates resulted from recommendations from the National Minimum Wage Commission, which were submitted to the Ministry following public consultations.

She said several factors were taken into consideration in arriving at the revised rates.

These include the current state of the Jamaican economy, the ability of the employers to absorb an increase, the increased cost of utilities and transportation, the 2016 and 2017 inflation rates, the Government’s economic recovery programme, and the current International Monetary Fund Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement.

Robinson said the Minimum Wage Act is one of Jamaica’s most important pieces of labour laws, adding that safeguarding the country’s workers is critical to the society’s advancement.

“It is the duty of any Government to ensure that our workers are not placed in a position where their earning is below a certain level,” she said.

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