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 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 04/99: Minimum wage  
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EDITIONS
Minimum wage Tuesday, 30 March, 1999, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
'Victory for small business'
The levels set for the minimum wage are a victory for small businesses, according to the Chairman of the Policy Unit of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Brian Prime.

From April 1999, employers will have to pay employees the national minimum wage. The levels set were a victory for the FSB.

Some unions wanted 4.61 an hour inclusive of all workers.

The FSB's written submission to the Low Pay Commission (LPC) - which advised the government - gave a practical account of the problems businesses would face if the level was too high and this was also stressed in our oral evidence to the LPC.

In addition to this, the FSB also met with policy aides from 10 Downing Street to give the small business view. The FSB called the 3.60 main rate a "sensible start".

Minimum wage
Because the government said there would not be regional variations, the level had to take account of all sectors and regions.

Obviously, there will be some job losses, but these would also include bringing unscrupulous firms into line with other businesses.

The LPC recommended that the government should monitor the effect of these wage levels on businesses with a view to increasing the levels in future. The FSB is assisting in the monitoring process through a wage survey.

Employee responsibility

Another success for business is that most workers will have to calculate for themselves whether they are being paid the minimum wage.

The LPC suggested that employers should print details of average hourly earnings in employees' payslips.

An FSB call for a reduction in regulations resulted in the secretary of state scrapping the requirement for employers to provide all employees with a 250-word statement on the minimum wage.

The amount of record keeping has also been slashed.

There will be no new inspectors; enforcement of the minimum wage will fall to the merged Contributions Agency and Inland Revenue - another FSB suggestion.

However, some of the regulations attached to the introduction of the minimum wage are still complex. The FSB will be campaigning to reduce these burdens on small firms.


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