by Marlon Madden
Already suffering from a dramatic reduction in business, some hoteliers could be hard-pressed to increase wages of some workers at the lower end of the spectrum if Government’s proposed national minimum wage of $8.50 per hour takes effect
on April 1, as planned.
To determine the impact that such a rate could have on some sectors, Today’s BUSINESS has learned that the private sector was currently engaging the services of a consultant to carry out research across several sectors so that those findings could be presented to Government.
In addition to a National Minimum Wage, the Ministry of Labour has also proposed sectoral minimum wage for security guards of $9.25 per hour in its Minimum Wage Order.
Anyone seeking to object to the proposed Minimum Wage Order should do so no later than March 17, stating the grounds for the objection, the nature of the interest in the matter and suggestions for additions or amendments to the Order.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Senator Rudy Grant told Today’s BUSINESS that organisation was concerned about the impact the proposed national minimum wage could have on some members at this time.
Singling out the hotel industry, Grant explained that there were several categories – B-Class and Apartments, A-Class and Luxury Class – but the group most likely to be negatively impacted would be those in the B-Class category, especially smaller properties.
Some hotels also employ their own security officers.
“What you will find is that the impact will probably be greater of the B-Class with the intimate hotels as well because at that level, based on our memorandum of understanding with the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the schedule of pay for the different categories of workers – bartenders, general cook and what have you – you will find that at the level of the B-Class what has happened is that the pay there is lower than at the A-Class and the luxury class,” he explained.
Grant said the BHTA would be working closely with the wider private sector in presenting findings of what impact the current proposal could have on the sector and put forward its own recommendations.
“We are going to be looking at this area, engaging with not only the members of the BHTA, but members of the other associations that are part of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) and we will be communicating further with Government in relation to that matter,” said Grant.
Chairman of the BPSA Ed Clarke told Today’s BUSINESS it was still early days to say what impact the proposed $8.50 minimum wage was likely to have on various businesses or sectors, or what was a more doable figure that was likely to be suggested.
However, he said the consultant has already been secured and a review committee established, adding that the relevant information would be presented to Government within the March 17, 2021 deadline.
“The Barbados Private Sector Association has agreed to work with a consultant to do the necessary research and present a paper to the Government during the review period . . .
“We want to present some solid data and give our feedback to the committee and to the Government so that we can have a very informed decision at that time,” said Clarke.
He reiterated that while the private sector generally welcomed the establishment of a national minimum wage, “we have to be careful about the timing and the impact it could have on the business sector and the wider economy”.
“We all agree that this is a very bad time for the economy and a very bad time for businesses in Barbados, and we want to be sure that whatever we do, to be fair to everyone – the employees and the businesspeople – that we are able to afford any increase in the minimum wage and to show the impact it will have on businesses in general. So this is some of the work we are working on at this time,” said Clarke.
The current minimum wage of $6.25 only applies to Shop Assistance under the Shops Act.