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Minimum Wage: Apprentices

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment she has made of the merits of applying the national minimum wage to apprentices. (290989)

[holding answer 14 September 2009]: I have been asked to reply.

The effects of the NMW on younger workers need to be considered carefully to avoid damaging incentives between education and work and ensure the employment prospects of younger workers are not adversely affected.

We know that young workers experience substantially worse unemployment and employment rates than adults. Both are more sensitive to the economic cycle. That is why the Low Pay Commission recommended a separate youth rate from the outset in 1999 and continues to believe there is a case for retaining them. Government and the LPC are concerned that removing the youth rates could adversely affect employment levels for this group. Earlier this year, the LPC recommended that 21-year-olds be entitled to the adult minimum wage. We have accepted this recommendation but, given the current economic conditions, stated that this change will be implemented from October 2010.