Developments on the voluntary UK Living Wage and young worker discrimination highlighted

Employers who have agreed to adopt and pay the UK living wage will now see an increase from £8.45 to £8.75 per hour.   The London living wage will also increase from £9.75 to £10.20 per hour.  This is on the recommendation of the Living Wage Foundation.   This is however  an entirely voluntary scheme which has seen many employers agreeing to pay wages at this rate.  Currently there are around 3,600 employers who have signed up to agree to pay the UK living wage.

This is not to be confused with the National Living Wage introduced by former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, which is mandatory where workers who are aged 25 and above are entitled to £7.50 per hour.

This contrasts with the mandatory national minimum wage where employers are allowed to lawfully discriminate based on age bands and who can pay younger workers less than older workers.  This issue has recently been highlighted by the Young Women’s Trust charity, which suggests that workers under the age of 25 earn up to £6,300 a year less because they are not entitled to be paid the National Living Wage.

The Young Women’s Trust has published a report which also suggests that more than a million young people in the UK are paid up to £3.45 an hour less than older workers for doing the same jobs.

It is also clear that Apprentices continue to be the worst affected in terms of what can only be classed as age discrimination who can legally be paid a mere £3.50 an hour.

The charity has helpfully broken down how much gross pay young workers are being denied by not being eligible to be paid the national living wage due to their age as follows:

. Apprentices who earn £3.45 an hour lose out  on £7,280 per annum

. Workers aged 16 to 17 who earn £4.05 per hour lose out on £6,279 per annum

.Workers aged 18 to 20 who earn £5.60 per hour lose out on £3,458 per annum

Workers aged 21 to 24 who earn £7.05 per hour lose out on £819 per annum.

The Charity is launching a digital campaign and petition calling on the government to extend the national living wage to the under 25’s.   The government’s justification for having pay differentials based on age is that employers are much more likely to hire younger workers on lower pay scales and that this is positive in minimising youth unemployment.

It is astonishing that with the advent of strict age discrimination laws, the government is allowed to legislate and to introduce legislation that is directly discriminatory in relation to the protected characteristic of age. It would also appear to be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

These age differentials are also nothing new and have been around since the introduction of the national minimum in 1998 and interestingly have not to date been challenged.

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