While noting that men and women should be compensated equally, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday that it’s impractical to implement gender wage policies.
“It is no doubt that there is some bias in the system, we know that women have been historically underpaid for the work that they do in comparison to their male counterparts and that is something that I think we all have to work much more diligently about and highlight the issues, so that employers begin to appreciate that the contributions that are made should be treated the same,” Turnquest told reporters on Tuesday.
“There should be no difference between men and women in terms of the compensation for the work they do, because we know the contribution is equal so there should be equal pay.”
According to the most recent Labour Force Survey by the Department of Statistics, women make up the majority of unemployed in The Bahamas despite attaining a higher level of education.
Additionally, women in the region generally earn 20 percent less on their salaries than their male counterparts, according to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) most recent World Employment and Social Outlook report.
Turnquest said that while the government is of the view that there ought to be no discrimination, it would be difficult to set a policy that would force private employers to pay women at a different rate.
“I don’t know if that is a practical solution because then you are asking us to mandate what a private sector employment contract should look like. I think the government has in place a minimum wage and we can have a conversation about whether the minimum wage is adequate, or whether it ought to be raised and I believe that is a debate that is now coming to the public. But in terms of fixing what the rate should be, I think it’s going to be very difficult from a practical point of view because we can’t get involved in the private relationship between an employer and an employee,” he said.
“What the law does say is there cannot be discrimination in employment, or using sex or race or anything else as a basis for underpaying someone. So I think enforcement of the law, monitoring of the law is probably appropriate, but to say set a policy that you must pay this, I think is a difficult thing to do from a practical point of view.”