From Wednesday 8th October, the national minimum wage in the UK will increase from £5.52 to £5.73 per hour for workers aged 22 and over, £4.77 for an 18-21-year-old and £3.53 for those aged 16 and 17.
The National Minimum Wage was first introduced on 1 April 1999. The main rate was set at £3.60 (for workers aged 22 and over) and £3.00 (workers aged 18-21 years old).
Business Secretary John Hutton said:
"The National Minimum Wage remains one of the most important rights introduced by the Government in the last decade. Before it was introduced, some workers could expect to be paid as little as 35p an hour, our legislation has ensured that can no longer happen."
Tough new penalties are set to come into force next April for employers that flout the rules, while an information campaign over the next six months will aim to make sure that every employer is aware of the changes. The Government is also tightening up enforcement of the minimum wage with new measures, including:
* A fairer way of dealing with national minimum wage arrears, calculated to ensure that employees do not lose out as a result of underpayment.
* Tougher penalties for employers who break the law, increasing the maximum penalty for non-payment of the National Minimum Wage from £5,000 to an unlimited fine. Serious cases of non-compliance will be tried in a Crown Court.
Pat McFadden, employment relations minister, said:
"Ten years ago, the National Minimum Wage was born, marking the start of a hard-fought campaign to introduce a basic standard of employment rights that every worker could be protected by. The minimum wage has made a lasting and significant difference to the low paid, with around a million workers benefiting from the increase each year."
Chris Crawford is the MD of BD Recruitment a specialist recruiter for new media jobs, business development manager jobs and technical IT jobs, based in Manchester, UK.