By Feliza D. Fenty
ROAD TOWN, BVI -- The ministry of natural resources and labour in the British Virgin Islands has reminded residents, especially the business community, that on October 1 the territory’s minimum wage will be raised from $4 to $6 per hour.
Deputy premier and minister for natural resources and labour, Dr Kedrick Pickering, made the announcement on Monday, July 4, via a radio broadcast.
Pickering stated, “The new minimum wage payable for employment shall be $6 per hour. After careful consideration, the Cabinet decided to delay the coming into force of the new minimum wage to allow the business community time to implement the National Health Insurance. The Cabinet was also mindful that the implementation of both the minimum wage and the National Health Insurance at the same time may have created some unnecessary hardship on businesses.”
Permanent secretary within the ministry of natural resources and labour, Ronald Smith-Berkeley, said that the awareness campaign has begun, and will be in full effect by mid-August.
Smith-Berkeley said, “Employers need to remain mindful that the minimum wage will be raised soon, and they are encouraged to start making the necessary budget allocations to prepare for the switch.”
He added, “Minimum wage means simply that all employees cannot be paid less than the new rate of $6 per hour.”
Labour Commissioner Janice Rymer reiterated the permanent secretary’s words in stating that businesses are expected to comply and that the department has added plans for enforcement.
She said “The new minimum wage will be enforced through the Labour Department by means of inspections, work permit crosschecking, employer orientation sessions and encouraged employee awareness and reporting.”
Rymer added, “The change directly affects approximately 800 employees in the Virgin Islands and it is our hope that ultimately persons can make the necessary adjustments to ensure a smooth transition.”
The Labour Department is also in the process of software changes to support the new minimum wage, and personnel will be available to respond to business persons making the transition.