Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has signed a bill postponing the implementation of a scheduled minimum wage increase for six months.
Bill 24-36, now Public Law 36-1, puts the brakes on raising the hourly rate from $ 8.75 to $9.25, which was originally set to take effect in March.
"I would like to thank Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero for enacting Bill 24-36 into Public Law 36-1," said Sen. James Moylan, the bill's author. "This legislation was not an issue I was excited about introducing, nor was it something I had campaigned on, but it is a much-needed measure at this critical time as our island faces a tough road towards economic recovery."
The two-tiered minimum wage increase was mandated by Public Law 35-38.
"I supported the public law which proposed the two tier increments back in 2019, but just as many businesses have had to and continue to endure, tough decisions must be made," Moylan said.
The wage increase delay, he said, would buffer the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which triggered a lockdown and operational restrictions on businesses for many months.
"As many island businesses start opening their doors, it is vital that our government promote policies which would allow them to bring their employees back to work," Moylan said.
The new law, he added, would provide businesses the opportunity and some additional time to regroup their operational expenditures, pay down obligations, acclimate to a new normal, and for many, recoup their losses from 2020.
"Plus, nothing in this public law prevents an entity who can provide increments for entry level wage earners from proceeding to do so today," he added.