From the 1st April, the National Minimum Wage for employees aged 25 or over increases from £6.70 per hour (the current rate for all employees aged 21 or over) to £7.20 per hour to fall in line with the Living Wage.
The government plans to increase this amount year on year to bring the minimum hourly rate for those over 25 to £9 per hour by 2020.
Whilst this is good news for low paid employees, the cost to smaller business will be significant – around £1,200 more per employee per year once National Insurance contributions and Auto-Enrolment pension contributions are added in. With what is effectively a new minimum wage bracket being introduced, the gap between the minimum wage for employees aged between 18 and 25 is now £1.90 per hour – almost £4,000 per year for a full time employee.
To this end, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a significant decrease in unemployment for people under 25, as employees try to manage their costs by hiring younger workers ahead of the more expensive, older ones.
To lessen the impact on employers, the government are increasing the Employment Allowance on 6th April from £2,000 to £3,000. So the first £3,000 of employers National Insurance incurred in the 2016/17 tax year doesn’t need to be paid over to HM Revenue & Customs. While this is welcome, it may mean very little to employers who have more than one employee going up to the new £7.20 rate.
It’s worth noting that none of the other National Minimum Wage rates are changing at this time. These are usually tinkered with on 1st October every year so don’t be surprised to hear more on this in Budget 2016 next Wednesday, 16th March.