The National Minimum Wage will increase by 20p an hour to £6.70 from October 2015. It is expected that the changes will benefit more than 1.4million workers. Yet at a time when the UK struggles to escape austerity, with the majority of new jobs coming from traditionally low-pay, low skilled industries, is the increase enough?
The increase was recommended by the Low Pay Commission – the independent body that advises the government on the minimum wage – and has been hailed by the Conservatives as ground breaking, with a 3% increase making it the biggest real-terms rise in minimum wage for seven years.
The statutory minimum wage for 18 to 20 year olds will also go up b 3% from October, from £5.15 to £5.30, and by 2% for 16 and 17 year-old, taking the rate to £3.87.
However, despite the record increase, the news has not been welcomed by everyone. Labour, in particular, have argued that, rather than seeing the increase it isolation, it should be viewed in relation to context, which is, for too many, an undernourished economy offering very few prospects. Life is tough and the struggle is all too real for those who are forced to accept zero-hours contracts and stagnating wages because there is no opportunity to better one’s situation. Against this demise, the 20p increase is seen as derisory by many campaigners. Labour promised the minimum wage would rise to £8 an hour over the course of the next parliament in it wins in May
It is recommended that employers understand the different legal rates for the National Minimum Wage and pay their employees the correct amount. Recently the government has gone to the extent of naming and shaming employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage, even introducing a £20,000 penalty for offenders.