Hospitality association: ‘Let the Employment Forum recommend wage increase’

A PROPOSED 34p increase in the minimum wage would put already struggling hotels, bars and restaurants under increased strain, the chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association has said.

Simon Soar (28957948)
Simon Soar (28957948)

A proposition has been lodged by Deputy Geoff Southern – due to be debated by the States in September – to up the minimum wage to £8.66 from April.

However, JHA chief executive Simon Soar argues that approving the move would circumvent the long-established process of making increases based on the recommendation of the Jersey Employment Forum.

He added that the proposal came at a time when many businesses in the industry were struggling to make ends meet.

‘The Employment Forum takes into account the economic and employment conditions, RPI and how wages are rising across all sectors when it carries out its assessment of whether the minimum wage should rise and, if so, by how much,’ Mr Soar said.

‘This is the fully accountable process that takes the politics out of the issue, working within the same time frame set out by Deputy Southern to produce a recommended level for the Social Security Minister to take to the States.

‘With many businesses struggling to meet their overheads and keep their staff in employment, we can see no reason for the States to change its long-held practice of listening to and following the recommendation of the Employment Forum.’

He added: ‘We cannot support Deputy Southern’s proposal to raise the level by 34p an hour next April and would expect States Members to wait for the correct process to be followed.’

However, according to Deputy Southern, the government has already made a commitment to raise the minimum wage.

A report accompanying his proposition said: ‘This Council of Ministers states, as one of its five strategic priorities in 2018, a pledge to reduce income inequality. A part of this commitment is to raise the minimum wage to 45% of the average wage [to £8.66] by the end of 2020.

‘In the UK, the national living wage, which is the equivalent of our minimum wage, since both are compulsory and legally enforceable, was set at £8.72 from 1 April 2020.’

In the same report, Deputy Southern said that a productivity plan designed to mitigate the impact of rises in the minimum wage on businesses – something first promised by the States in 2018 – had not been produced.

He added that this had affected the Employment Forum’s last minimum-wage rate recommendation.

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