Some Lessons to Be Learned from the Brits on a Minimum Wage Law
by Michael Fox
As talk of a new minimum wage continues to rumble through Congress, the Brits have acted. See the BBC News story, Minimum wage up to £5.52 an hour. While there is no talk of raising the U.S. rate that high, there is at least one way we should emulate the British.
Namely — lower rates tied to age. Although the new top British rate is the equivalent of $10.60 an hour, there are separate rates for those aged 18-21 ($8.80) and 16-17 ($6.57). That bright line makes much more sense than the half-hearted attempts to achieve something similar under the FLSA.
One thing the Brits don't do that we should — tie the rate to a reasonable index to avoid these periodic lurches that don't do anyone any good except for politicians who get have a partisan issue to rally around and an opportunity to "look good" in the eyes of their constitutents by "giving them" a raise.
The Brits at least remove it from the political process by a half step, putting it in the hands of the government's "Low Pay Commission," a name that you have to admire regardless of your point of view.
Labels: FLSA, political