Minimum wage for foreigners postponed indefinitely

Migrant workers wait for a bus to take them to the airport for repatriation. | Photo: Fayaz Moosa

Malé, Maldives – Parliament of Maldives has passed to postpone minimum wage for foreign workers in Maldives.

According to the previous amendment to the Employment Act, it was planned that the minimum wage would be paid to foreigners within two years of the law coming into force which meant the minimum wage should be paid to foreigners from the September 22, 2022.

However, the governments proposal to amend the Employment Act stating that the minimum wage should be paid to foreigners on a date fixed by the government in the future was passed by the parliament in todays sitting with 49 parliamentarians voting in favor of the amendment.

Addressing the issue of establishing minimum wage for foreign workers when minimum was initially announced, Minister Fayyaz has previously told that a moratorium must be declared until the economy is recovered to pre Covid-19 status.

Minimum wages for Maldivians that came into effect starting January 1, 2022 are; 

Small Businesses

  • Monthly MVR 4,500, hourly MVR 21.63 against the monthly MVR 5,000 set by the Wage Advisory Board.

Medium Businesses

  • Monthly MVR 7,000, hourly MVR 33.65 same as the amount proposed by the Wage Advisory Board.

Large Businesses

  • Monthly MVR 8,000, hourly MVR 38.46 against the monthly MVR 8,900 set by the Wage Advisory Board.

Civil Service and public companies

  • Monthly MVR 7,000, for permanent employees working daily 6 hours, same as the amount proposed by the Wage Advisory Board.
  • Hourly MVR 33.65 hourly for all employees.

Following the bill to amend the Employment Act to indefinitely postpone the inclusion of expatriates in the minimum wage, Transparency Maldives and Maldives Trade Union Congress had released a statement raising their concerns.

Their statement pointed out that this amendment was against the ”Equal Remuneration Convention” of International Labor Organisation which Maldives had signed on January 4, 2013. According to this convention, all parties to the convention must ensure that the workers carrying out the same works in nature must be paid equally and fairly.

Some parties also pointed out that the move to delay the payment of minimum wage to foreigners could further exacerbate the already unresolved expatriate problem in the Maldives.

According to Human Rights Watch, estimates of the number of migrant workers in the Maldives vary widely, from 145,000 to over 230,000. 2020 United Nations report states the Maldives has the largest proportion of migrant laborers in South Asia, roughly a third of the resident population. At least 60,000 are undocumented.