Minimum wage rises to £5.93 an hour
The national minimum wage is increasing by 13p an hour to £5.93, benefiting an estimated one million, mainly women, workers.
A new hourly rate of £2.50 will also be introduced for apprentices, who previously did not qualify for a statutory wage. The age threshold for paying the adult rate will be reduced from 22 to 21, giving an estimated 50,000 people a pay rise of more than 20%.
To mark the increase, the Government announced that employers who deliberately flouted minimum wage laws will be publicly named under a new scheme.
Employment relations minister Edward Davey said: "Bad publicity can be a powerful weapon in the fight against employers who try to cheat their workers and their competitors. Their reputation can be badly damaged if they are seen to be flouting the law.
"Responsible employers should also make themselves aware of the new rates that come into effect today. The increases to the national minimum wage this year are appropriate for the economic climate. They will strike a balance between helping the lowest paid whilst at the same time not jeopardising their employment.
"The Low Pay Commission estimates that around 970,000 people stand to benefit from these increases."
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "This increase will put extra cash in the pockets of some of the UK's lowest paid workers and today there are also significant gains for apprentices and young workers.
"The minimum wage has already helped hundreds of thousands of families without any negative side effects and its success has shown that - despite scare-mongering from some business voices - the economy can easily cope with sensible labour market regulation. Indeed, our current economic woes seem to be caused by too little regulation rather than too much."
The hourly rate for 18- to 21-year-olds will increase by 9p to £4.92, while for 16- and 17-year-olds the minimum wage goes up by 7p an hour to £3.64.
The new rates come in as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Business Department published their national minimum wage annual report for 2009/10, which showed inspectors retrieved more than £4.4 million in arrears for over 19,000 workers. The average arrears per worker was £228, 18% higher than the previous year.