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Differences in National Minimum Wage Compared Across Europe

Author: EasternEuropeans Nov.2015

Many countries in Europe operate under a set statutory minimum wage that ensure that workers get paid a reasonable salary. The minimum wage is important as it prevents the exploitation of such people by unscrupulous businesses and employers. Also, one can know the least amount to expect when they apply for a job for the day. Having such rules that dictates the amount one can least earn is crucial as it differentiates between the stable and struggling economies.

In Europe, many countries have a minimum wage rate plan in place except for countries like Denmark, Italy and Sweden. Comparison of minimum wage rate in different countries exposes the fact that there are minimum wage rate differences. However, there are also differences in the strength of the different economies. The cost of living is also put into perspective as the money earned is also likely to influence how it is going to be spent. Other factors that are used to compute wage rate include; the age of the worker, the occupation industry, regions and pay across other sectors.

United Kingdom
The national minimum wage was increased from 1st of October 2015. Various levels and structures were considered for this. The factors included the change in wage structure include; the pay across other regions, sectors, and occupations. The salary was increased although there remain discrepancies regarding age.

The breakdown is as follows:
Over 21yrs of age -The adult rate increased by 20 pence to £6.70 per hour.
18-20 years was increased by 17pence to £5.30 per hour.
16-17 was increased by 30 pence to £3.87 per hour
Apprentice rate was increased by 57p to £3.30ph
The UK has one of the lowest minimum wage rates of comparable European countries and yet has the second highest cost of living after Switzerland mainly due to high housing costs. A national living wage of £7.20 is due to come into effect from April 2016 to help compensate for some of the effects of the higher costs of living, particularly in London and the Southeast.

The minimum wage rate had been relatively stable for a few years and changed in 2015. The french minimum wage rate is different from that of the UK.to start with. Workers who are below 17 years of age and have minimal working experience are paid an hourly minimum wage rate equivalent to 80% of the full minimum wage rate that is €7.69. Workers aged 17-18 years who have work experience of at least 6 months are paid at least 90% of the minimum wage that is an equivalent of €8.65. Those aged 18 years and above and have been on the job for over six months are paid a minimum hourly wage of €9.61.

Germany has the largest economy in Europe. On the 1st January 2015, the minimum wage rate law was passed, and it was resolved that the hourly rate should be €8.50. Consequently, that meant that for 40-hour week, employees were expected to earn at least €1,473 before tax per month. The minimum wage was supposed to apply even to interns who have finished vocational training.

Currently, Switzerland does not have a minimum wage rate as compared to other countries in the EU(Switzerland is not part of the EU). The people of Switzerland voted overwhelmingly not to have a minimum wage rate rise to 22 swiss francs. Voting for the minimum wage would have meant that people would no longer be able to afford labourers, domestic staff and other similar workers as they would be too expensive to pay. However, it is surprising that even though there is no statutory minimum wage, "lower level" workers in Switzerland are the highest paid in Europe.

In Ireland, there is also a minimum wage rate that governs the way employees are paid hourly to mitigate exploitation. Although the exact is an agreement between the employee and the employer, the minimum wage rate offers the guideline in the following; an experienced adult worker earns €8.65; that is the full national minimum wage rate. A worker aged under 18 years gets €6.06 which is equal to 70% of full wage per hour. A person aged 18 years who is in the first year of employment gets €6.92 that is 80% of minimum wage per hour. The national minimum wage is due to rise to €9.15 from January 2016.

In conclusion, the minimum wage rate varies from one European country to another. However, various factors are considered during computation or award of the same. To start with, the age, the occupational sector and experience in the job are considered. That is why minors earn less income compared to adults.

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