Paying People Poorly

Although there are many arguments for and against the idea of an minimum wage, the fact is that it exists in the UK. However, a key issue I have with the minimum wage system is that it discriminates in terms of age.


The current minimum wage rates in the UK although some small increases are due in October 2014


Why does the minimum wage vary according to your age? The reason given is that younger people do not have as much expense so do not need as much money. Therefore, it is acceptable to pay older people more since they have more responsibilities. While this may seem reasonable, there are a few flaws with this argument.

Firstly, if we were all payed according to the expenses we have, we would be living in a socialist society in which the principle of ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’ would exist. People would be judged on how many children they need to care for and given enough money to meet their bare necessities. Clearly as shown by the vast gap between the rich and the poor, this principle does not exist so why should under 21 year olds have to suffer this discrimination?

Secondly, the fact the minimum wage is lower for young adults may be negatively affecting the economy. This is because young adults may not even bother to start working until they really need to by which time they are older and have no work experience. This would make finding a job even more difficult, especially in today’s economic climate.This reduces the quality of the young workforce as well as disadvantaging young adults.

Thirdly, the difference in wage rates also affects all adults because if there is a job that a 16 year old can do to the same ability of a 21 year old, the employer is most likely going to choose the one that will cost less. This is the same effect some people claim workers who are willing to work for a lower wage have on those who cannot afford to do the same. This has a knock on effect as adults who are in need of a job to build up their experience find it difficult to gain one.

So it is not only the cries of injustice from young adults that means the minimum wage system should change but also the overall effect it has on the economy at large.

Are you for or against?

Until Next Time,

A Worried Student


12 thoughts on “Paying People Poorly

    • I agree that in terms of certain jobs, the more experienced should be paid more but if a minimum wage is set, then younger people shouldn’t have to start off at a disadvantage as a job that pays minimum wage usually does not require a high level of skill or qualifications. If it does, then that means the employees are being underpaid but that is a separate issue.


      • Yes it certainly is as it can be terribly unfair. For example, a 16 year old works for a company for two years and each year receives a pay rise until they are earning £6.31 an hour. Then a 21 year-old joins the company with no experience yet immediately receives a wage of £6.31 just because the law says so.


  1. I think it is ridiculous to use age as a reason for different pay bands! I left home at seventeen and had rent and bills to pay the same as everyone else!! I loathe petty discrimination!


    • Firstly, wow that must have been difficult and secondly a further wow for coping so well and becoming such a brilliant person!
      You are the evidence that age should certainly not be a factor when it comes to pay.


  2. I agree that there should not be discriminations on the basis of age, which includes not limiting traineeship and apprenticeship to young people either. Anyone may have the need or wish to start a new career at any time in their life and the minimum wage should apply to all of them while companies should be required to deliver an effective training (that’s the only reason why they are allowed to pay you so poorly in the first place). Instead they usually list an amount of desirable skills that fits professionals.


    • That’s true. I guess apprenticeships tend to be marketed towards young people more as they are seen as alternatives to education.
      That’s true and the funny thing is that under 21 apprentices do not receive the same wage as an over 21 despite them both being in the same position.


  3. I believe that the Canadian minimum wage is low but the UK at 3.72 for 18 and under works out to be $6.82 CD well below any province in Canada. The only thing I want to say to that is Shame on your government.

    Keep up the good fight.


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