The Government has been accused of ‘age discrimination’ in the minimum wage after new figures revealed that younger workers on the minimum rate are thousands of pounds a year worse off than older colleagues, leading opposition MPs to call for an end to the exclusion of under 25s from the higher minimum rate.
The minimum wage for a worker aged 18 currently stands at nearly £2 less an hour than for those over the age of 25. New analysis by the House of Commons Library shows that a full time worker on 37.5 hours a week will earn £3,774 a year less than an older colleague on the higher rate.
The difference in pay for younger workers has been a controversial issue for the Government since their decision that the higher minimum wage, labelled the National Living Wage, would not apply to workers under 25. Cabinet Minister Matt Hancock defended the decision at the time, saying younger workers didn’t deserve a higher minimum wage as they were “not as productive” as older workers.
Now one of Parliament’s youngest MPs is hoping to change the law so that all workers over the age of 18 receive the full higher minimum wage rate.
Holly Lynch MP’s private member’s bill will go before MPs tomorrow in what she describes as “a chance for MPs to reverse one of this Government’s most divisive policies.”
Ms Lynch says that her National Living Wage (Extension to Young People) Bill will “restore dignity” to young workers:
“It’s appalling that this Government has continued with a policy to keep pay low for younger workers, leaving them thousands of pounds a year worse off than older colleagues,” she said.
“Rent is so costly for many young people, food and utilities are no cheaper and many are falling into debt. Yet the Government are happy for them to receive a wage which will barely cover the essentials.
“I’m hoping that MPs will back my bill to restore fairness to the system and dignity to young workers, who too often feel undervalued by this Government.
“It’s always a challenge to pass bills in this manner, however I hope that the Government will take this opportunity to think again about their approach.”