Palau Senate Rejects Minimum Wage Bill Over ‘Minor Error’

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‘Non-residential workers’ text meant to be struck out

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, April 15, 2013) – Palau’s Senate on Friday rejected the minimum wage bill because of an oversight in the final House version that was submitted to the upper chamber.

Earlier reports showed the House agreed that minimum wage increase from $2.50 to $2.75 applies to all employees and not to Palauans only.

In an interview also with Del. Jonathan Isechal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he said that the House further agreed that an increase of $0.25 per hour shall be added every October 1 of each subsequent year, instead of every six months, until the minimum wage reaches $3.50.

As to those under contracts, the bill states that any contract made only on or after October 1, 2013 must observe the applicable minimum wage in place.

Sen. Surangel Whipps Jr. yesterday disclosed that as a result of constant meetings between House W&M members and Senate WMFM members, there was an agreement already that minimum wage increase shall apply to all employees, except to those under contracts prior to October 1, 2013.

However, the final House version submitted to the Senate still included non-residential employees as among those exempted from the minimum wage increase.

Whipps said the House was supposed to strike out such language. Those exempted from the minimum wage increase should only include farmers by a single employer, domestic helpers, caretaker, babysitters or house boys, student employees and non-government organization employees, and employees 20 years old or younger and hired on a probationary basis for a period not to exceed 90 days.

Whipps said the Senate rejected the bill so both houses can go to a conference and correct the "minor error."

Whipps hopes that the bill will pass in both houses soon and transmitted to President Remengesau for his signature.

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