National minimum wage and living wage – calls for fairness

minimum wage - purse with penny coinUNISON has urged the Low Pay Commission to end what it sees as age discrimination in the National Minimum Wage whereby apprentices and workers aged under 21 are paid less than ‘adult’ workers over 21.

UNISON calls for:

  • the apprentice rate of the minimum wage to be set at the same level as the youth rate;
  • advanced, higher level and older apprentices (18 and up) to be paid the adult rate;
  • the “development rate” for 18-20 year olds to be paid in line with the full adult minimum wage from 2015; and
  • 16-17 year olds to be given a “development rate” with a view to harmonising it with the adult rate within three years.

UNISON’s call came at the end of the Living Wage Week during which, on 3 November 2014, the Living Wage Foundation announced the new Living Wage rate for the UK had been set at £7.85 an hour. This is an increase of 2.6% on the 2013 rate and 21% higher than the current National Minimum Wage rate for adults, which is £6.50 an hour. The London Living Wage rate has been set at £9.15 an hour.

According to the Living Wage Foundation, there are currently over 1,000 Living Wage accredited organisations in the UK, employing 35,000 individuals. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced that all of its employees, including third party contractors, will now be paid at least the Living Wage.