The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has released new analysis revealing potential financial losses for young workers, citing “unfair” minimum wage regulations.

According to the TUC, workers aged 18-20 could miss out on over £2,400 annually due to lower minimum wage rates, affecting approximately 700,000 individuals across the UK. The main minimum wage rate is currently £10.42 per hour for those 23 and over. However, it is £10.18 for 21-22 year olds, £7.49 for 18-20 year olds and £5.28 for under 18s.

The analysis underscores a significant wage gap, with workers aged 18-20 facing a minimum wage pay penalty of £2,438 per year, or £47 per week, compared to their older counterparts. The disparity in minimum wage rates is seen as particularly unfair for younger adults and is prompting calls for an overhaul of the tiered rates system.

Advocating for Fair Pay

Labour has pledged to address these disparities if elected into power, promising to implement a real living wage for all workers and eliminate discriminatory age bands in minimum wage regulations. Additionally, Labour aims to ban zero-hours contracts, which disproportionately affect the youngest workers, as part of its New Deal for Working People initiative.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak emphasised the importance of fair pay for all workers, stating that younger workers should not be penalised with lower wages for performing the same job as older workers.

He added, “Everyone should be paid fairly for the job they do.“But too many young workers are still being left hugely out of pocket because of outdated youth rates of the national minimum wage. More than 700,000 workers aged 18-20 face this pay penalty – they are getting less than older workers for doing the same job.

“Young people up and down the country are being hammered by the cost-of-living crisis – like everyone else, they need more money in their pockets now.”