// Statutory rate for over-25s will go up from £8.21 per hour to £8.72 from today
// It also increases from £7.70 to £8.20 for 21 to 24-year-olds, and £6.15 to £6.45 for 18 to 20-year-olds
// For under-18s, it increased from £4.35 to £4.55, £3.90 to £4.15 per hour for apprentices
Unions have welcomed increases in the statutory minimum wage rates which take effect from today, saying the country is indebted to “minimum wage heroes” on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.
The increases affect shop floor and warehouse workers in the retail sector, among others, and come at a pertinent time as many grocery staff become frontline workers in the coronavirus pandemic.
The statutory rate for over-25s will go up from £8.21 per hour to £8.72 while the national minimum wage will go up from £7.70 to £8.20 per hour for 21 to 24-year-olds.
For 18 to 20-year-olds, rate goes up from £6.15 to £6.45 per hour and from £4.35 to £4.55 for under-18s.
Meanwhile, the hourly rate for apprentices will also increase from £3.90 to £4.15 per hour.
However, the new rates are still lower than the voluntary real living wage of £10.75 an hour in London and £9.30 outside the capital.
“Britain is indebted to its army of minimum wage heroes,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.
“Many – including care workers and supermarket staff – are currently on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus. They deserve every penny of this increase, and more.
“The best way to show our respect is to get the minimum wage up to a real living wage as soon as possible.
“Millions of low-paid workers are struggling to make ends meet. That’s not right during a pandemic, or at any time.”
A government spokesman told the PA news agency: “It is right that workers are fairly rewarded and should not lose out during this time of disruption.
“Therefore, we will continue with our proposed increases to the national living wage and the national minimum wage in April.
“However, we recognise that this will mean extra costs for some businesses. The Chancellor has announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment.”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Today’s pay rise will make a real difference to over a million low-paid workers across the country.
“Many care staff are on the minimum wage. They’re looking after the elderly and vulnerable in the most challenging of circumstances and deserve every penny.
“All employers must ensure their staff get the legal increase.”
Low Pay Commission chairman Bryan Sanderson said: “Many of the nation’s key workers – in, for example, the care sector, agriculture, transport and retail – are low-paid, are continuing to work in very difficult conditions and will benefit from today’s increase.
“At the same time, the government has introduced a comprehensive package of support for employers to lessen the impacts of these extraordinary circumstances.
“Under our new remit, the government asks us to monitor the labour market and the impacts of the National Living Wage closely, advise on any emerging risks and – if the economic evidence warrants it – recommend that the Government reviews its target or timeframe.
“This is what the government refers to as the ’emergency brake’.
“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic clearly represents a very challenging set of circumstances for workers and employers alike, and will require us to review whether the emergency brake is required when we next provide our advice to the government.
“This advice will be crucially dependent as always on the economic data we receive.”