What is minimum wage?
Minimum wages have been defined as “the minimum amount of remuneration that an employer is required to pay wage earners for the work performed during a given period, which cannot be reduced by collective agreement or an individual contract” by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Who sets minimum wages?
The ILO also states that minimum wages can be set “by statute, decision of a competent authority, a wage board, a wage council, or by industrial or labour courts or tribunals … [or] by giving the force of law to provisions of collective agreements.” In Jamaica, the National Minimum Wage Commission conducts public consultations and then submits recommendations on the minimum wage to the Ministry. After this, Cabinet comes to a consensus on the recommendations, and then the new minimum wage is announced in Parliament.
What is the point of a minimum wage?
The purpose of minimum wages is to protect workers against unduly low pay.
Does minimum wage apply to domestic workers?
The ILO Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) says: “Each Member shall take measures to ensure that domestic workers enjoy minimum wage coverage, where such coverage exists, and that remuneration is established without discrimination based on sex” (Article 11).
What Jamaican laws govern minimum wage?
The Minimum Wage Act was passed in 1938 to provide for the payment of wages above or equal to, but not below a statutory level for certain types of work. Among other things, the Act provides for the fixing of a minimum wage, the establishment of a Minimum Wage Advisory Commission, and the appointment of officers to inspect records to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act.
Timeline of the Jamaican Situation
December, 1938 – Jamaica’s first Minimum Wage Law came into effect, as well as provisions for Holiday with Pay, regulations for working hours and many other benefit for the workers.
1956 – The Jamaica Labour Party legislated that records be kept by employers to allow for the determination of the rate.
1974 – Jamaica passed its first tranche of the National Minimum Wage Orders, under the leadership of Michael Manley. No worker in Jamaica was to be paid less than the nominal $25 per 40-hour workweek.
1975 – The National Minimum Wage Orders for the entire nation were enacted. The rate for household workers averaged 75 per cent of the national minimum wage.
1992 – Minimum wage stands at $300 for a 40-hour work-week.
1999 – Minimum wage stands at $1,200 for a 40-hour work-week.
January 31, 2005 – The national minimum wage is increased to $2,400 per week up from $2,000, reflecting an increase of 20 per cent. Also, the hourly rate for industrial security guards will be increased by 12.5 per cent, moving to $90 per hour from $80 per hour. For the industrial security guards, life insurance coverage is to be sustained at $1 million with double indemnity protection both during and outside of hours of work, while laundry allowance will be increased from $16.00 per hour to $18.00 per hour, an increase of 12.5 per cent. Firearm premium allowance will be increased from $17 per hour to $20 per hour, an increase of 17.6 per cent and dog handler’s premium allowance will be increased from $12.00 per hour, an increase of 16.7 per cent.
January 30, 2006 – There is a 16.66 per cent increase in the national minimum wage, moving from $2,400 to $2,800 per 40 hour work week; and a 15 per cent increase in the minimum wage for industrial security guards, moving from $3,600 to $4,140 per 40 hour work week. In addition, laundry allowance for the security guards will move from $18 to $20 per hour with an increase in the firearm allowance from $20 to $21 per hour. The dog handler’s allowance will move from $14 to $15 per hour, while the life insurance coverage will move from $1 million to $1.2 million with double indemnity.
January 29, 2007 – The national minimum wage is increased by 14 per cent from $2,800 to $3,200 per 40-hour work week, while the hourly rate moves from $70 to $80. Minimum wages for industrial security guards increase by 13.52 per cent from $4,140 to $4,700 per 40-hour week, and hourly rates moving from $103.50 to $117.50. Allowances for industrial security guards also go up, with laundry allowance moving from $20 per hour to $22 per hour; firearm allowance up from $21 per hour to $25 per hour; and dog handlers’ allowance up from $15 per hour to $17 per hour. In addition, life insurance for security guards moved from $1.2 million to $1.5 million, with double indemnity protection both during and outside of work hours.
February 6, 2007 – The House of Representatives approved amendments to the Minimum Wage Act, which provide for increases in fines and penalties for those who do not comply with the minimum wage law. Under the Bill, the fine for a breach of section 4B (3) of the legislation increases from $200 to $250,000; breach of section 5(1) moves from $100 to $100,000; section 8 (2) from $200 to $250,000; section 11 from $20 to $100,000; section 12 (3) from $200 to $250,000; and section 12 (4) from $1000 to $750,000 and a reduction in the prison term from 12 months to nine months. Section 12 (5) (c) of the Act is also being amended to replace the word ‘solicitor’ with ‘attorney at law’ and a new section 13 (2) is being added, which will provide for the imposition of penalties on conviction in a Resident Magistrate Court, of a fine not exceeding $1 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.
March 1, 2016 – The National Minimum Wage is increased from $5,600 to $6,200 per 40 hour work week. Arising from this, the new hourly rate for the National Minimum Wage is $155; the Time and Half rate is $232.50, and the Double Time rate will be increased to $310. The Minimum Wage for Industrial Security Guards will be increased from $204.97 per hour for a 40 hour work week (single-time rate) or $8,198 weekly to $221.35 per hour for a 40 hour work week or $8,854 weekly. For Security Guards, the Time and a Half rate will be increased to $332.03 while the Double Time rate is now $442.70.
August 1, 2018 – There is a 12.9 per cent increase in the national minimum wage from $6,200 to $7,000 per 40-hour work week. In addition, security guards will receive $9,700 up from $8,854 per week, reflecting a 9.6 per cent increase
– Downloadable PDF: Minimum Wage Act
– The Jamaica Information Service
– The Jamaica Gleaner Archives
– Dalley Response to Minimum Wage
– International Labour Organisation: Minimum Wage
– The Bustamante Industrial Trade Union
– Orville Taylor: National Minimum Wage: Almost a Century of Marginalisation