Payouts to injured workers to increase

  • Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport (Photograph supplied)

Payouts for injured workers are to increase from April 1, more than nine years after the hike was approved by the House of Assembly.

Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, said payments would go up from a maximum of $170 a week to two thirds of a worker’s earnings at the time of their injury.

The legislation for the change was passed in 2011, but a ministry spokeswoman said the Bermuda Employers Council had asked for “an extended timeline so that their members could have time to make the necessary arrangements regarding increased employee benefits and insurance changes”.

Ms Foggo said the new compensation package had been scheduled to begin at the start of the year, but that businesses had been given an extended deadline to prepare.

She added: “Some will be doing this for the first time.”

Ms Foggo said that workers with questions should “reach out to the labour relations office”.

She added: “You get good legal advice and if the sides cannot come to agreement, they can have a tribunal settle it.

“It’s at no cost to you. If you choose to settle in court, everybody pays.”

Ms Foggo was speaking last week after Cordell Riley, a statistician, was appointed to head the Wage Commission responsible for setting the island’s living wage and minimum wage.

She estimated the commission’s research would take “a minimum of six to nine months’ work”.

Ms Foggo said: “To actually say when the wage itself will come into effect, I can’t give a date. We need to get recommendations coming from the in-depth and difficult work that lies ahead.”

Ms Foggo said the Government could not afford to continue with a situation “where so many Bermudians are unable to work in certain environments because the rate of pay is so low”.

She highlighted an advertisement last year that asked for a live-in carer for a senior to work “five days a week, 12 hour days, being on call for the other two days” at $10 an hour.

Ms Foggo said: “Research shows in countries that operate with a minimum wage and living wage that having such things imposed has encouraged employee loyalty.”

She added that mandatory minimums for pay could also cut absenteeism and create “increased productivity in the workplace”.

Ms Foggo said: “The legislation is such that since something like this is implemented, should things go awry, it allows for very quick changes to be made.

“The main thing is that no one will want to see any negative impact on the economy. The thrust behind this is to come up with a figure that creates a win-win.