The age at which workers are entitled to claim the adult National Minimum Wage (NMW) has fallen from age 22 to 21 and, will come into force from 1 October 2010.
From October, employees of this age will be entitled to a minimum wage of £5.93 per hour up from £5.80 per hour.
The Department for Business estimates that about 85,000 21-year-olds will be affected by moving them onto the adult NMW rate.
A hike in the 18 to 21 rate has also recently been agreed. This age group will see their pay rise from £4.83 to £4.92 per hour whilst the youth age rate for those aged between 16 and 17 will receive £3.64 up from £3.57.
A recent announcement was also made to ensure that for the first time, apprentices will also be given the minimum wage. Currently, apprentices who are aged under 19 or those in the first year of their apprenticeship are currently exempt from the NMW. Legislation requires apprentices in England to be paid at least £95 per week under the Government’s contractual minimum funding guarantee but this is not robustly enforced and the guarantee does not apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
The government recently agreed to the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation to pay all those working as apprentices and under the age of 19 and those aged 19 and over in the first 12 months of their apprenticeship. The wage should cover both those employed on traditional contracts of apprenticeship and employed apprentices on government-supported Level 2 and 3 schemes. The apprentice wage is set at a rate of £2.50 per hour and will be effective from October 2010.