Government raising minimum wage to $21.20

The minimum wage is being raised by $1.20 an hour to $21.20 from the start of April, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today.

Amid rising complaints from businesses that they will have less than two months to prepare for the increase, the Government announced the changes this morning.

“Many Kiwis who earn the minimum wage have gone above and beyond in our fight against COVID-19. We remain committed to supporting New Zealanders by raising their wages, as we continue to recover and rebuild from the pandemic,” Wood said in a statement.

“Raising the minimum wage will directly benefit approximately 300,000 workers, and will help many households that have been most impacted by the effects of COVID.

The starting-out and training minimum wage will also increase from $16 to $16.96 per hour from 1 April 2022, Wood said.

Council of Trade Unions (CTU) president Richard Wagstaff welcomed the news.

“The CTU believes that increases in the Minimum Wage are both essential and desirable. Unemployment is at record low levels. Employers primary concern in surveys is their inability to access labour. There has never been a better time to increase the minimum wage. Despite suggestions to the contrary, international and New Zealand evidence suggests that increasing the minimum wage does not increase unemployment.”

Along with proposals for fair pay agreements and social income insurance, hiking the minimum wage was “another step in creating better working conditions for Workers in Aotearoa,” Wagstaff said.

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said employers – some of which were dealing with large falls in revenue due to Covid restrictions – had little time to prepare for the change.

“It’s a big increase at short notice that businesses have had little time to prepare for – it’s also a slap on the face for industries that are strugglingand have had no support under red settings despite seeing their revenue fall significantly -in some cases by up to 80 per cent,” Hope said.

– More to follow.

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