National minimum wage moves to centre of political agenda

The national minimum wage (NMW) has been with us for 15 years but for most of that time against a background of rising real wages (i.e. after adjusting for inflation). 

However, over the past three years, average earnings have fallen in real terms and the NMW has followed suit. It is therefore not surprising that at this year’s party conference season, the focus has turned to the part government intervention can play to increase real wages. 

One strand of the debate focuses on enforcing the current legislation more rigorously. That’s behind Ed Miliband’s eye-catching pre-conference announcement that a Labour government would increase the fine for non-compliance from £5,000 to £50,000. Similar thinking is behind calls for regulating zero-hours contracts and a recent survey demonstrating that many interns are not paid the NMW…

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