Doubts raised over whether pay rises make a difference

Monika Thomasberger in London and Vienna

19th October 2010


As the national minimum wage in the UK has increased from October, nearly a million of low paid workers benefit from a 13 pence pay rise from £ 5.8 to £ 5.93 per hour for adults aged 21 and over. There have also been significant changes for workers aged 16 to 17 which will now get £ 3.64 instead of £ 3.57. Workers aged 18 to 20 will get £ 4.92 instead of £ 4.83.

The biggest change was the introduction of an apprentice minimum wage of £ 2.50 per hour. But as many workers are glad to receive more income, employers face serious challenges. Andreas Thomasberger, a store manager in London, is concerned that small businesses will have to cut back on workers. He said: “With the pay rise employers have higher expenses, which results in employees working less hours so the companies don’t have to pay higher wages.”

This shows that not every low paid worker will profit from the pay rise. Nevertheless many employees think that it was about time that minimum wages increased. Anna Lee, who works for a catering agency in London said: “For most of my jobs, I only receive the lowest pay and it is very hard to live a decent life with this amount. I think that the  minimum wage should be increased to at least seven Pounds.” It shows that the raise in wages is only minor considering that employers can bypass it and therefor it makes no significant difference for workers.