10th Birthday for National Minimum Wage
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Issued 1st April 2009
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson today celebrated a decade of
success for the National Minimum Wage and pledged tough government
action to support workers' pay rights.
Now standing at £5.73 for those aged 22 and over, the minimum
wage has helped millions of UK workers get an honest day's pay for an
honest day's work.
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said:
"The minimum wage has been a huge success for 10 years and is
there to help make sure that workers are treated fairly, whatever the
"We are determined to protect the rights that everyone in the
UK is entitled to - this is a basic matter of fairness and helps ensure
a level playing field for business.
"Before it was introduced, there was no limit on how little
employees could be paid and I am sure that no-one could now imagine a
return to those times.
"Our new penalties mean that anyone caught underpaying their
employees faces an automatic penalty - no-one can ignore their
The adult rate of the minimum wage has risen by 59% since its
introduction in April 1999 - from £3.60 to the current rate of £5.73.
Around one million people benefit each time the rate rises.
Automatic penalties for employers who underpay come into force
on 6th April, ensuring that anyone caught flouting the law faces a
The most serious cases of non-compliance will be able to go to
trial in a Crown Court, which will have the power to impose an
Sarah Kent, 38, from Nottinghamshire, said the minimum wage
had helped her stay in the catering industry as a qualified chef for 12
years, building up her expertise. She is now taking over her own cafe
and will be an employer herself.
"The National Minimum Wage has certainly been a good thing as
it puts the onus on the employer not to break the law - and sets a fair
standard. Workers should always check their rights in case employers
try to get round paying the right hourly rate.
"My own experiences make me appreciate how important a minimum
wage is to people."
John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
"For the past decade the minimum wage has been set at a level
which has really helped low paid workers without putting their jobs or
firms at major risk.
"This approach sets a good foundation for the challenging
times ahead as we cope with a worsening recession.
"The government must be tough on the minority of rogue
employers who undermine this landmark policy, and we support stiffer
penalties for those who underpay their staff."
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
"The minimum wage has helped raise the living standards of
thousands of families across the UK since its introduction in 1999.
"It has been an integral part of making the UK a fairer
society and is an important part of protecting some of Britain's most
vulnerable citizens. We must continue to work together to develop the
minimum wage, which has a vital part to play in shaping the economy of
"We welcome the new penalties introduced today, which will
help to ensure that there is no hiding place for rogue employers
underpaying their staff. We are absolutely determined to ensure that
every worker can get what they are due."
Today also sees new annual leave rules come into force,
raising the statutory entitlement for all UK workers from 24 days to 28
days a year.
A phased approach to extending annual leave rights means
businesses have been preparing for today's change since 2007.
1. The Low Pay Commission has until May 1st to make
recommendations on new National Minimum Wage rates.
2. Minimum wage rates are £5.73 an hour for those aged 22 and
over, £4.77 for those aged 18 to 21, and £3.53 for 16 and 17-year-olds.
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from the BERR-
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform replacing DTI
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-04-02 10:26:40 in Employee Articles