At a Young Labour event on 11 May 2019, the Labour Party announced that if it comes into power it will abolish the lower ‘youth rate’ of the minimum wage, which applies to employees aged below 18.
As of April 2019, the national minimum wage for employees aged under 18 was set at £4.35 per hour, while those aged 25 and over earn a minimum of £8.21 per hour. In November 2019, the Living Wage Foundation calculated that the real living wage for UK employees is £9 per hour, and £10.55 for those based in London.
In Labour’s 2017 manifesto, the party made a commitment to raising the national minimum wage to match the real living wage, projected to be £10 per hour by 2020.
The raising of the national minimum wage, and the removal of the lower tier, is predicted to earn younger employees an additional £48.45 per week, which equates to £2,519 per year.
The party has stated that it will provide targeted support for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to enable them to pay these higher wages, using savings following a reduction in the amount the Treasury pays out for in-work benefits.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Equal pay for equal work is hardly a controversial idea, so why are we discriminating against young people?
“You don’t get a discount at the shops for being under 18, but if the person serving you on the other side of the counter is young, they could be on half the wage of their colleagues. It’s time to end this discrimination. Young people’s work should be properly valued, not exploited by employers to cut their wage bill.
“Workers should be rewarded for their work, not their age. Equal rights for workers means just that, irrespective of age, gender, nationality or race. Imagine what [this] will do for the lives of young people, especially those from poorer backgrounds. It will be nothing less than life changing.”