States Members in Jersey last night voted to reject proposals by Deputy Geoff Southern to increase the minimum wage from its current level of £8.32 to £10 per hour by 2022. What they did agree to, however, was to ask the Employment Forum, which proposes annual adjustments to the minimum wage, to examine the potential of the minimum wage rising to correspond with Jersey's living wage in due course. The living wage is currently £10.96 per hour and takes account of the cost of living, taxes and benefits available to low income families. Had Members agreed set the level of minimum wage for 2021 and 2022, they would have had to bypass the requirement of any adjustments going via the Employment Forum. The Minister for Social Security had asked the Assembly to reject the proposition on the basis that consultation was already ongoing as part of a wider government review of minimum wage. Many States Members, including the Treasury Minister, felt now was the wrong time to put more pressure on employers, considering many businesses have been left saddled with debt following the pandemic. Others, like Senator Moore said that although now was a difficult time, it was perhaps just the time to make a change and support Deputy Southern.
Others like Constable Mike Jackson and the newly appointed Constable of St John, Andy Jehan made the point that although the minimum wage was set at £8.32, the reality for business owners was that businesses paying minimum wage were unlikely to get staff. Deputy Southern's proposal to appoint at least two members to the Employment Forum, who are representatives of third sector organisations with an interest in the alleviation of poverty, was also rejected.