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Minimum Wage

Volume 961: debated on Wednesday 31 January 1979

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the number of public sector employees aged 21 years and over, excluding employees in the nationalised industries, whose basic wage is less than £45 a week or £1·13 an hour; and what would be the cost to the taxpayer of introducing a statutory minimum wage of £45 or £1·13 an hour for all public sector employees aged 21 years and over.

I have been asked to reply.For the public sector, excluding public corporations, the required information is available only for fulltime men aged 21 and over and full-time women aged 18 and over. The new earnings survey indicates that the gross weekly earnings, excluding overtime pay, were less than £45 in April 1978 for about 50,000 such men, and about 300,000 such women whose pay for the survey reference period was not affected by absence.Bringing these earnings up to £45 at April 1978 would increase the total wages and salary bill, excluding overtime payments, of full-time men and women by around three-quarters of 1 per cent. The additional cost in cash terms would be approximately £2 million per week. This rough estimate takes no account of repercussions on those with higher earnings, on overtime payments, nor of part-time employment.