The national minimum wage should rise to more than £6 an hour next year, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged the government.
The TUC called on the Low Pay Commission (LPC) today to push for the best possible minimum wage rates the UK economy can afford, and to advise the adult rate, currently at £5.52 an hour, should be payable from the age of 18 – not 22, as it is at present.
The trade union body also demanded that the current minimum wage enforcement regime be overhauled to improve the chances of catching employers paying illegal wages.
General secretary Brendan Barber said: “Britain is the fourth largest economy in the world and has enjoyed more than a decade of economic growth. Despite gloomy warnings from employers that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs, every increase since 1999 has been absorbed without any adverse effect on the economy.
“Economic growth is set to continue next year and we expect to see 175,000 extra jobs created. All the signs are that the UK can afford a £6 hourly wage.”
The TUC proposed that the LPC establishes an initial penalty for all under-paying employers, and makes them pay arrears at current minimum wage rates.
The maximum fine for employers that deliberately flout the law should be greatly increased from the current limit of £5,000, it said.