One of the more surprising political stories to emerge this month was Allegra Stratton’s BBC report that the Conservatives are considering ways in which to raise the National Minimum Wage. Apparently the intention is to strike a balance between increasing people’s earning power while avoiding a negative impact on the number of people in employment. How this will sit with the Tory rank and file at this year’s conference remains to be seen.
For the moment the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 (Amendment) Regulations 2013, SI 2013/1975) provide for the usual modest increases.
The main changes are that:
- – the principal rate of the national minimum wage increases from £6.19 to £6.31 per hour;
- – the rate paid to workers aged between 18 and 20 increases from £4.98 to £5.03 per hour;
- – the rate to be paid to workers aged below 18, who have ceased to be of compulsory school age, increases from £3.68 to £3.72 per hour;
- – qualifying apprentices (as specified in the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999) who are within the first 12 months of their apprenticeship or who are not yet 19, will receive a national minimum wage of £2.68 per hour;
- – the daily value for accommodation, where an employer provides a worker with living accommodation, increases from £4.82 to £4.91.
The Living Wage Foundation currently recommends a living wage of £8.55 per hour in London, and £7.45 outside the capital, calculated by reference to basic living costs. This is a primary objective of Labour and, as a minimum, a commitment to aiming for this to be introduced as the statutory base should be expected in the next manifesto. However, as matters stand, there is no statutory compulsion on employers to pay more than the national minimum wage. Concern has also been expressed at the almost complete absence of prosections for breaches.
The Agricultural Wages Board, and the special provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act relating to agricultural wages, are abolished by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 with effect from this October.