Minimum wage moves to start ‘without delay’

A law to introduce a minimum wage on St Helena is to be brought into force as soon as possible.

Protection against being unfairly sacked is also set to be brought in under the 2010 Employment Rights Ordinance.

It comes less than a month after the man in charge of economic development said wages on St Helena were too low.

Julian Morris told Saint FM: “Wages on the island need to increase because, in my view, the standard of living is not high enough.”

First, a committee must be set up to advise on what the lowest legal wage should be on the island.

It will include representatives of private sector employers – who may face a rise in their wage bill – as well as someone to speak for employees.

Governor Mark Capes announced the move in his report of the latest executive council meeting, on 10 July 2012.

He said: “It was recognised that this would be a complex and challenging piece of work.”

The challenge includes working out the impact a minimum wage would have on private sector employers, as well as on St Helena Government and agencies such as Enterprise St Helena.

It also needs to be balanced against benefits and the basic island pension, said Mr Capes.

The first step is to enact four sections of the 2010 law, which set out the terms for forming the employment rights committee.

The ordinance says the committee should have five members, to be appointed by the governor.

They must include a legislative councillor, an employer, and a government official who is responsible for economic or social development.

The law also says the committee must include “a member of an organisation representative of employees” – although there are no trade unions on the island.

The fifth committee member will be “one other person who the Governor deems suitable to serve on the Committee.”

Once a minimum wage is set, it will be the committee’s legal duty to review it every 12 months.

It also has the power to decide whether any jobs should be excluded from the wage protection.

The ordinance says it must consult with employers and workers every year, and take account of the effect of a minimum wage on the island’s economy and its competitiveness.

Mr Capes said: “The intention would be to introduce other elements of the Employment Rights Ordinance, such as the right to have a written statement of terms of employment and the right not to be unfairly dismissed, to coincide with the introduction of a minimum wage.

“Council agreed that steps should be taken to establish the committee without delay.”

SEE ALSO:
Put up prices and pay staff more, says economy chief

LINKS:
Employment Rights Ordinance
Enterprise St Helena

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