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Labor: New Minimum Wage In The Territory Is $8.35 Per Hour

Catherine Hendry solo

CHRISTIANSTED — Two months from now the minimum wage in the territory will be nearly one dollar higher.

The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but that is going to change soon.

Labor Commissioner Catherine Hendry said today that the new rate of $8.35 per hour goes into effect on June 21.

The rate applies to all Virgin Islands employees except tourist service and restaurant employees, Hendry said.

All employers will be required to pay their employees no less than $8.35 per hour beginning 90 days immediately following the effective date of this subsection, according to Labor.

Hendry said that another increase to $9.50 is scheduled for June 2017 and a final increase to $10.50 is slated for June 2018.

Hendry says tourist service employees and restaurant workers are exempt from the increases.

Last year Virgin Islands senators pushed for the increase despite concerns that it might force some local businesses to close because of the weak economy. Supporters argued that the minimum wage has not kept up with cost of living increases. Some have even suggested that if there was more money in the hands of those earning minimum wage, it would allow more people to gain car loans through comparison sites similar to Money Expert, thus stimulating the economy because the workforce would have a wider range of employment opportunities available to them.

Starting on June 1, 2017, the new rate will be $9.50 per hour, not less than $10.50 an hour during the year beginning June 1, 2018, and beginning June 1, 2019, not less than the minimum wage determined, but tourist service and restaurant employees who are tipped employees, must be paid a minimum wage at a rate not less than 40% of the minimum wage, Hendry said.

After 2020, the Virgin Islands Wage Board may, based on verifiable economic data, adjust the minimum wage for tourist service and restaurant employees who are tipped employees to a rate not greater than 45% of the minimum wage or less than the federal minimum wage for tipped employees; and

After December 31, 2018, and in each succeeding year thereafter, the minimum wage rate in effect under subsection (a) of this section will be reviewed by the Virgin Islands Wage Board in accordance with the provisions set forth at Title 24, chapter 1, Virgin Islands Code. The Wage Board may determine a minimum wage rate equal to not more than 50 percent of the average private, nonsupervisory, nonagricultural hourly wage as determined by the Wage Board for the previous November, rounded to the nearest multiple of five (5) cents, but at no time less than the effective Federal Minimum Wage.

In complying with Title 24, section 8, subsection (b), Virgin Islands Code, the Commissioner of Labor shall direct the Virgin Islands Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, to submit data inclusive of the minimum wage rate in effect under subsection (a), together with the average, private, nonsupervisory, nonagricultural hourly wage and the Federal Minimum Wage Guidelines, to the Wage Board within 30 days of the request thereof.

To inquire further about this new minimum wage increase, and/or to obtain a copy of the Minimum Wage poster, please contact the Division of Labor Relations on St. Croix at (340)773-1994 or on St. Thomas at (340)776-3700. You may also visit the V.I. Department of Labor website at: www.vidol.gov .

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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