Like many other nations, The Bahamas has a minimum wage for employees. The statutory minimum wage was enacted in 2002 as $150 per week or $30 per day or $4 per hour. In 2015, the government raised the minimum wage to $210 per week or $42 per day or $5.25 per hour. Minimum Wages (Increase in Minimum Wages) Order 2015.
The Minimum Wage Act 2002 lists the rules regarding minimum wages. Under the Act, an employee is any person who has entered into a contract of employment, including service and apprenticeship contracts. All employees must be paid the minimum wage, no matter the type of work they do. An employer under the Act is a person, undertaking, corporation, company, public authority or body of persons, and may be the owner of a business in which an employee is employed or a managing agent of that employer.
If an employer enters into a contract with an employee that lists a wage less than the minimum, the employee still must be paid the minimum wage notwithstanding the contract language. Employers found in violation of the Act must pay a $500 fine and pay the employee the difference between wages actually paid and the minimum wage. Employers may not require apprentices to pay them a premium to continue the apprenticeship. Notably, the Minimum Wage Act does not apply to any industrial agreements that existed prior to 2002 and does not apply to children.
The Minimum Wage Act requires employers to keep records showing that they have paid workers the minimum wage. If employers knowingly falsify records regarding minimum wages, they are guilty of an offence and may be fined $5,000. Inspectors may examine employer records and obtain statements from employers to ensure compliance with the Act.
Employers can defend themselves against charges of failing to pay the minimum wage or falsifying records by showing a court that an agent committed the offense and that the employer used due diligence to ensure his own compliance. The agent then may be charged with the offense instead and the employer acquitted. If the employer raises this defence, both the prosecution and the agent can cross-examine the employer and any of his witnesses. They may produce evidence in rebuttal to the employer's claim.
To find out more about employment law, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.