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The discovery of Bermuda is attributed to a Spanish navigator, Juan de Bermudez, who was shipwrecked here in about 1503. No settlement was established, however, until 1609, when a party of English colonists under the mariner Sir George Somers sailing for Virginia, was also shipwrecked here. In 1612 the island group, known as Somers Islands, was included in the third charter of the Virginia Company, and a second group of English colonists arrived. This charter was revoked in 1684, however, and the islands then became a crown colony. Shortly afterward the settlers imported black slaves and, later, Portuguese laborers from the Madeira Islands and the Azores (Portuguese Acores). During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Confederate blockade runners were based in the Bermudas. At the close of the Civil War some Americans, particularly Virginians, migrated here from the United States; the islands later received Boer prisoners, sent by the British government during the Boer War (1899-1902).
Because of their strategic location, the Bermuda Islands formerly served as the winter naval station for both the British North Atlantic and West Indian squadrons; the West Indian squadron still maintains a station here. In 1941, during World War II, sites on the islands were leased to the United States for naval and air bases for 99 years. Bermuda became internally self-governing in 1968. In August 1995 voters in Bermuda soundly rejected a referendum that would have made the island colony independent of the United Kingdom. Premier John Swan, the leader of the United Bermuda Party (UBP), had vowed to resign if independence was not approved; he stepped down shortly after the vote. After a secret ballot of Bermuda's legislators, Finance Minister David Saul was named the new prime minister. Saul resigned in March 1997 and was replaced by Pamela Gordon of the UBP. In November 1998 the Progressive Labour Party won its first election, with party leader Jennifer Smith becoming prime minister.
Bermuda offers a wide array and vibrant choice of activities that range from boating to bowling to bird watching. Fishing, golfing, horseback riding -- an attractive choice of activities designed to keep you busy as long as you have the energy. The temperate climate is ideal for sailing either in Hamilton Harbour, or the vast expanse of blue water in the Great Sound, or simply being a spectator at a sailing regatta from the quay of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Going back to nature on a pedal cycle or playing squash at one of the many squash clubs are just some of the off-beat activities available on the island.
Working in Bermuda
There are many expats living and working in Bermuda. Getting a Bermuda job is not overly complicated, having said that, you must bring skills that are not readily available from the local population.
The Labour Market
In the past Bermuda has had a fairly relaxed attitude towards labor regulation, and there has been only a small amount of employment legislation. A proposed employment code is due to be put before Parliament in the near future. The recently-formed Labor Advisory Council assists in the resolution of disputes.
In early 2000 a newly-elected Government with socialist leanings initiated a radical tightening up of the work permit regime, and planned to introduce race-based quotas in work-places under legislation known as 'CURE'. Business reacted angrily against these measures, and there were some high-profile corporate departures from the island, but the situation seems to have settled down, and since 2002 the number of expatriate workers on the island has continued to rise.
Though measures have been put into place to tighten immigration policies, there are still many Bermuda job vacancies that must be filled by expats. Bermuda jobs can still be found in most industries and in particular at the higher end management levels. Skilled trades and service industry jobs in Bermuda are also still very common.
Under the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 the Immigration Department of the Bermuda government requires that Bermudian citizens must be given first opportunity to acquire employment. If the post has been advertised in local newpapers three times and if no Bermudian is registered in a related work category with the Government Employment Office then a non-Bermudian can be offered the job. The employer must then apply to the Immigration Department on the worker's behalf for a permit.
As from April 2001, six-year limits on work permits came into effect, although senior executives and/or key staff that contribute to the success of a company can work free of any time restrictions. This also applies where there is a proven severe shortage of qualified staff.
According to the government, companies that wish to have a worker made exempt from the six year limit must have a good record in training and employing locals; producing clear and correct job advertisements; and submitting work permit applications that are correctly completed. Such firms can also look forward to speedier processing of work permit applications.
In October, 2003, the controversial work permit term limit policy was sharply criticized by former Labour and Home Affairs Minister Quinton Edness, who urged the government to drop the current rules in favour of a more flexible scheme practiced in many other countries.
"I understand the problems Government is trying to resolve, but I think this policy is wrong and should be removed," said Mr. Edness. "I think the policy is unreasonable and is threatening and intimidating to international companies as well as local companies. My fear is that it will result in damaging the economic welfare of Bermudians," he warned.
"There is a simple way to prevent this," declared Mr Edness, continuing: "all Government has to do is to put in its immigration policy, like other countries do, that you cannot become a long term resident or get any status as a Bermuda citizen as the result of a work permit."
The cost of a work permit is met by the future employer, and varies according to the proposed length of employment, usually at $532 per year.
For Bermuda companies that wish to employ individuals on temporary assignments in Bermuda, an application may be made for a Temporary Work Permit which is generally granted for a period of three months. There is no need to advertise the position in Bermuda. Renewals of the temporary work permit can be obtained.
Bermuda jobs and cost of living
- The average Bermuda Government salary was BDA$56,000 in 2004. It is by far the Island's largest employer. The estimated overall average salary is $49.500,000. About the lowest is BDA$39,0000 and the highest for Government is presently about $115,000. (Purely as a guide, the current salaries for Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists brought in or employed locally by the Bermuda Government's Ministry of Health and Family Services are at pay scale PS 29-31 at the rate of BDA$62,909 to $67,713 annually).
- The average private sector salary of locally-owned companies is about the same. But notable exceptions are the most senior executives of insurance companies who earn many millions of dollars annually, plus have stock and other bonuses and benefits galore
- The average salary in a Bermuda-based but international or exempted company - for middle or senior management or executive positions - is at least BDA or USA$80,592 or $6,716 a month. It is because some senior executives earn hundreds of thousands - or millions of dollars in the case of some multinational insurance companies. But they are usually only for specialist positions with very high academic and professional qualifications and many years of considerable prior international experience in their industry.
- The average year 2004 salary or wage per job in Bermuda overall, for Government and Bermudian-owned organizations not in the international sector, including unskilled workers paid hourly or weekly, was $49,500 in 2004 and $45,330.70 in 2001. BDA or US$$84,350 or pro-rata a month is the figure used to calculate the budget shown below. Those who earn more can save more. Some serious thought should be given by expatriates on whether or not it is feasible to come. For example, a professionally qualified person who is 33 years old, earns 45,000 pounds sterling a year in the United Kingdom and pays only 500 pounds a month for a 2-bedroom flat, may not find it practical to relocate to Bermuda. Private school fees will not apply to those without children. Those who earn less in Bermuda as expatriates should trim their budgets, style of living and, if possible, cost, place and style and spaciousness of accommodation. Those whose salaries do not permit them to buy a car but a moped only, or who buy a second-hand car and insure it for third-party insurance only, or whose owner can qualify for a no-claim bonus of up to 65 percent, can also reduce the budget.