Minister for National Security and Home Affairs, Rayburn Blackmoore has said that new minimum wages to take effect from September 1, 2021, are the results of a review which was aimed at “bringing the current order in line with the current market situations and realities of Dominicans.”
“You may recall the government of Dominica had given the undertaken to review the minimum wage across all wage categories for the express purpose of making the required adjustments,” the Minister said when announcing the changes recently. “To this end, the Cabinet of Dominica has taken a decision to increase the minimum wage of the Commonwealth of Dominica effective September 1st, 2021.”
According to Blackmoore, the setting of a minimum wage should ensure maximum benefit to the persons who will be affected.
“It is also important to note that the Commonwealth of Dominica does not have a fixed minimum wage across all wage categories; instead the minimum wage is set per category and seeks to cover the most vulnerable categories of workers.
In the existing category of workers as covered by the 2008 minimum wage order, the increase in wages are as follows:
Agricultural workers and labourers in the agricultural sector from $4.00 per hour to $7.50 per hour, daily paid workers and tourism workers from $4.50 per hour to $7.50 per hour, juveniles/trainees from $3.60 per hour to $5.67 per hour, cashiers/ receptionists from $5.50 per hour to $7.25 per hour, sales persons from $5.50 per hour to $7.25 per hour. Shop assistance from $4.50 per hour to $6.75 per hour, home assistance with meals from $125 per week to $200 per week, home assistance without meals $143.75 per week to $250 per week and living-in home assistance from $142.50 per week to $220 per week.
He explained that the new minimum wage order will encompass the already existing category of workers covered by the 2008 order and will be extended to include new categories.
The new categories with the corresponding rates include cooks, $7.25 per hour, bartenders $7.24 per hour, servers $7.24 per hour, room attendance $7.24 per hour, grounds men $7.24 per hour, public area assistance $7.24 per hour, vehicle drivers/ messengers $7.50 per hour, security guards $8.00 per hour and other unskilled workers such as labourers in the construction industry and handymen, $7.50 per hour.
The last minimum wage review was undertaken in 2007 and according to Blackmoore, it resulted in the passing of the 2008 order which covered a specific number of wage categories, namely agricultural workers, daily paid workers, unskilled workers, domestic workers, clerks, receptionists, salespersons and cashiers.
“Therefore, this long-overdue minimum wage review was untaken to ensure that the economic realities of the present day reality were adequately captured,” the minister stated.
He said the Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs consulted with all stakeholders in undertaking this minimum wage review inclusive of the appointment of a minimum wage advisory board in 2009, “a market survey to assess the current wage undertaken by the labour division and consultation with international partners such as the International Labour Organization.”
A tripartite committee, consisting of representatives of the private sector, the government and the unions, was also appointed in 2019 to review the minimum wage and to make recommendations to the minister responsible for labour. The committee presented its report to government in 2020.
“It is our view, therefore, that this extension of workers covered by the minimum wage order, will ensure better treatment for these category of workers who were among the most vulnerable of workers but were not covered by a minimum wage order,” Blackmoore noted
He said it is important to note further that because the last minimum wage review undertaken in Dominica was 14 years ago, this minimum wage review for the Commonwealth of Dominica on bringing the current order in line with the current market situations and realities of Dominicans was in fact needed.
Blackmoore believes that this minimum wage review may be seen as a first step of an annual or bilateral review undertaken to refine the minimum wage and to monitor the effects of the new minimum wage under the relevant parties.
“It is important to note also that the minimum wage as outlined in the minimum wage order, is not the actual wage, but it is the lowest amount employers can pay employees for the category of work mentioned in the order,” he explained.