Minimum wage rise sparks discrimination row

As
the minimum pay rate reaches a new high, the Employers Forum on Age (EFA) is
questioning whether a lower rate for people under 22 can be justified – given
that age discrimination legislation will be in place by 2006.

The
national minimum wage (NMW) rate for workers aged 22 or over will increase from
by 10 pence to £4.20 per hour on tomorrow (1 October). And the ‘development
rate’, which applies to workers aged 18-21 inclusive, will rise from £3.50 to
£3.60 per hour.

The
development rate is also payable to workers aged 22 or over who are in the
first six months of a new job with a new employer and receiving accredited
training. 

However,
the EFA said that if the age issue is debated and addressed now, UK business
will give itself time to change age-biased practice and will be less vulnerable
to charges of discrimination.

Sam
Mercer, campaign director for the EFA said: "Today it is illegal to pay a
woman less than a man, and to pay a black person less than a white, so why do
we still tolerate the attitude that younger workers are worth less than older?  It seems odd that such obvious
discrimination seems to go unchallenged."

Denise
Keating, head of People Proposition at M&S said: "Pay should be based
on an individual’s ability to do a job.

"If
training is required and this justifies a lower rate of pay, it should be
applied to every employee whatever their age."

www.efa.org.uk

By Quentin Reade

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