The National Minimum Wage (NMW) risks leaving younger workers behind, the TUC has told the Low Pay Commission (LPC).
An increase to the minimum wage will come into force in April 2018, but the new top rate will only apply to workers over 25.
The TUC is calling for:
According to TUC analysis, the slower growth of the 21-24 rate means the gap between the rate for over 25s has widened by more than £400 a year.
The TUC recently published research that claimed one in eight working people are skipping meals because they can’t afford to eat, and has also warned the LPC that the proposed rise in the NMW will not be enough to combat in-work poverty.
The TUC argues that with high levels of employment and record corporate profits, employers can afford a strong increase in the minimum wage, and that the LPC should be bold in its recommendation of a new rate to government.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Minimum wage pay rates aren’t increasing fast enough and the government’s target of £9 an hour by 2020 now seems a fantasy.
“Younger workers deserve to be treated fairly. Why are 21- to 24-year-olds getting less pay than their colleagues for the same work, when they face the same expenses as other adults and are highly productive?
“The minimum wage needs a serious boost in the coming years, especially for younger workers. With employment, the economy and earnings set to grow next year, employers will be able to afford a decent rise. And higher rates will need to be properly enforced to be meaningful.
“I’d also encourage more employers to adopt the real Living Wage standard. Not only will it be good for their workers, but to help attract and retain talent.”