In April 2019, the Minimum Wage Review Panel officially ended with the presentation of the Panel’s list of recommendations to the Minister Mac Mokoroa and approval from Cabinet.
After a series of constructive meetings between the Panel members throughout the month of January and February 2019, information was gathered and discussed in light of previous reports and the present day realities for all the workers in the Cook Islands. In addition, general public was invited to submit written and oral submissions to the attention of the Panel.
The terms of references for the Panel Members indicated that discussions and recommendations around the new minimum wage should follow five criteria; prevailing economic conditions in the Cook Islands; income distribution in the community; the need for protection for low income earners; work incentives and public submissions.
The Panel members completed the review by keeping these criteria in mind and despite the difficulties in obtaining most recent data, have provided for a list of recommendations including a recommended minimum wage rate to the Minister of Internal Affairs. Cabinet officially approved submission from the said Minister, hence scheduling the date of effect for the implementation of the new minimum wage rate to commence on the 1st July 2019. Therefore the current approved minimum wage rate for ALL employees this year of 2019 is $7.60 per hour.
As part of the recommendation by the Panel to Cabinet, there was also a recommendation to increase of the minimum rate of pay to $8.00 per hour, to be effective as of the 1st July 2020. In parallel, it was instructed to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to prepare for the overhaul review of the minimum wage review process and adoption of a new minimum wage policy and methodology.
Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Mac Mokoroa stated that “ it is important to proceed to a gradual increase to allow employers time to plan ahead. We remain the highest minimum wage in the region, after New Zealand and Australia, so we are doing good progress in improving Decent and Fair working conditions. The upcoming review of the minimum wage policy and methodology will provide the country with a way forward into the new decade, where the minimum wage is better aligned to our development and economic progress. ”
Any Stakeholders concerns and feedback are most welcome. Kindly contact the Labour and Consumer Division, Secretariat to the Panel, by phone or email: [email protected] for any queries or questions