Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Some Lessons to Be Learned from the Brits on a Minimum Wage Law

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.

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why do you say the only reason to raise wages for the lowest paid workers (less than 5% of the workforce) is to "look good" for voters?

there's no idea of justice (or is that now only a political ploy, and simply in contrast to the opposite political ploy of those who oppose raising the minimum -- e.g., the 28 republican senators who voted to void the federal minimum wage by overturning the FLSA)?

why is making the minimum catch up (in part) to its lost earning power a partisian issue, unless one party simply objects to being fair to low-paid workers? and do they?

if you support raising the minimum by index (i.e., raising it ever again at all), why consider it a partisian issue?

perhaps it's only partisian because there's no way (outside a frozen hades) that the republican politicians can give benefits to poor people without also collecting some windfall for their corporate sponsors. sad.
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