UK government approves 1.9 per cent rise in minimum wage

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain's government approved a 1.9 per cent rise in the minimum wage on Monday, giving the country's lowest-paid employees a bigger increase than most other workers but one that is still less than inflation.

The minimum wage for workers aged 21 and older will rise to 6.31 pounds (S$12) an hour on Oct 1, up from 6.19 pounds and in line with recommendations from an independent panel of experts, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said.

The increase will affect 1.79 million earners in Britain, around two thirds of them women, a BIS spokesman said.

The 1.9 per cent increase is less than the current rate of consumer price inflation of 2.8 per cent, but represents a bigger rise than the median 1.2 per cent annual increase received by other workers in the three months ending in January.

The decision was welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress, the two major bodies representing employers and employees.

Workers younger than 21 are only entitled to a lower minimum wage, which will increase by a smaller one per cent.

The government rejected advice to freeze apprentices'minimum wage and will instead raise it to 2.68 pounds an hour from 2.65 pounds.