30/09/2004

Low-paid workers boosted by new wage rates

Up to two million workers stand to gain from a pay rise from tomorrow as new rates for the National Minimum wage come into force.

For the first time 16 and 17 year olds who are no longer of compulsory school age will be paid at least £3 per hour. The adult rate will rise from £4.50 to £4.85 - an 8% increase; and the 18 to 21 year olds rate will increase from £3.80 to £4.10 - also an 8% increase.

Rule changes will also mean added protection for 100,000 people who work from home. In all, it is estimated that between 1.6 to 1.9 million workers will gain from the additional increases.

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, said: "We want to protect all workers from exploitative rates of pay. The National Minimum Wage has gone a long way to achieving this without having a negative impact on employment or the economy.

"We are committed to eradicating poverty pay and today's new rates are another big step towards turning that aim into a reality."

From 1st October 2004, employers must also pay all homeworkers the minimum wage for all hours worked; or pay 100% of the national minimum wage for the number of hours it takes an average worker to complete an agreed block of work.

In April 2005, homeworkers will see a further improvement in their wages when employers will have to pay the average worker at a rate of 120% of the minimum wage for a block of work.

The DTI is running a five-week campaign to publicise the changes to the National Minimum Wage rates.

(gmcg/mb)

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