Page last updated at 02:49 GMT, Sunday, 28 September 2008 03:49 UK

Minimum wage boost for 'million'

Minimum wage legislation was introduced 10 years ago

More than one million workers will benefit from a rise in the minimum wage from Wednesday, the TUC has said.

The trade union organisation added that women make up more than two-thirds of those who stand to gain.

The increase from £5.52 to £5.73 an hour will help reduce the gap in pay between men and women, the TUC said.

The minimum wage has increased by 59% since legislation was introduced in 1998, compared to a 44% rise in average pay over the same period.

Families helped

The TUC urged the Low Pay Commission to recommend a "significant" increase in the minimum wage for next year.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The increase in the minimum wage will help thousands of families but the low-paid face a high inflation rate as they spend a much greater proportion of their income on food and energy where prices have rocketed.

Over 21s: £5.73 an hour
18 to 21-year-olds: £4.77 an hour
16 and 17-year-old: £3.53 an hour
From 1 October

"It is entirely predictable that some employer groups will say that the minimum wage increase will threaten jobs, yet it has helped millions without significant job losses.

"The Low Pay Commission should robustly reject employer scaremongering and recognise the higher inflation faced by the low paid when it shortly sets next year's increase."

The minimum wage will increase from £4.60 to £4.77 an hour for 18 to 22-year-olds, and from £3.40 to £3.53 for 16 and 17-year-olds.

Minimum wage legislation was passed in 1998, and it came into force on 1 April 1999.

The government says the gender pay gap has narrowed in the last 10 years by 5%, partly down to the minimum wage.

The government has announced that it would stop restaurants using tips to top-up the pay of staff to minimum wage levels from next year.

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