Saint Lucia has recently proposed a new minimum wage order which was published in the Gazette, inviting comment and objections from the Public.  Currently in Saint Lucia there is no enforceable minimum wage. Members of the public have been invited to provide comments or objections to the proposed minimum wages up to the 6th June, 2024. 
Minimum Wage in Saint Lucia is governed by Division 5 of the Labour Act.  Division 5 of the Act establishes the framework for setting, implementing and enforcing minimum wage standards in Saint Lucia in an effort to ensure fair wages and working conditions for employees. 
Employers are required to pay the minimum wage and they are required to maintain necessary records. Employers who pay less than the statutory minimum wage commit an offence which can result in a fine of $10,000.00. Employers who are convicted of paying less than the statutory minimum wage are liable to pay the employee the difference between the wages paid and the statutory minimum wage. 
Employers who fail to keep necessary records can be fined up to $10,000.00, imprisonment up to 6 months or both. Providing false information can also result in a fine up to $10,000.00. 
The Minister has the authority to set a minimum wage for workers generally or for classes of workers in particular industries. The Minimum Wage Order can include provisions regarding the hours of work and other terms of employment and can set different wages for various categories of employees. 
The Minister’s decision however comes after receiving a report from the Minimum and Equal Wages Commission, which consists of a chairperson nominated by the Minister and six other members appointed by Cabinet, representing employers, labour, and the National Insurance Corporation.  The commission advises and makes recommendations on setting minimum wage, ensuring equal remuneration for work of equal value and other employment terms relating to minimum wages. The commission should consider factors such as the general wage levels, cost of living, economic conditions and worker protection when proposing a minimum wage. Before making a recommendation to the Minister the Commission may invite comments and objections from the public. 
In accordance with the Labour Act, the Minimum and Equal Wages Commission has proposed a minimum wage of a monthly salary of $1,126.00 or an hourly wage $6.50 per hour. It is important to note that this does not include overtime pay, a share of service charge (notable in the Restaurant and Tourism Industry), commission, bonus or profit sharing. 
Saint Lucia has now entered the public consultation phase. Minimum Wage has not been increased; however, the public are entitled to make such comments and objections to the Minimum and Equal Wages Commission before the 6th June, 2024 on the proposed increase. 
However, on what basis are comments to be properly expected absent any information provided by the Commission as to the reasons supporting the proposed order? 
The duty to consult is well established in administrative law. To be proper, consultation must be undertaken at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage; it should include sufficient reasons for particular proposals to allow those consulted to give intelligent consideration and an intelligent response; adequate time must be given for this purpose and the product of the consultation must be conscientiously taken into account when the ultimate decision is taken. 
Absent from the Minimum Wage Notice published in the Gazette is a report on the matters taken into consideration by the Commission, specifically general wage levels, cost of living and economic conditions. This is unfortunate, as it may result in unfocused or inadequate responses, which may very well defeat purpose of statutory consultation. 
Certainly, the failure to adequately consult may also leave any recommendation, and consequent order of the Minister open to challenge by way of judicial review which may result in the Commission being required to retake the consultation exercise. What happens next remains an open question. In order to correct any potential breach of the duty to consult, the Commission should release publicly its reasons in the same manner that they published the proposed order for comment.
Written by D. Victor C. Elliott-Hamilton. A Partner in Elliott-Hamilton Law, with responsibility for the firm's dispute resolution practice.