Exciting news for all of you struggling to make ends meet – the government has proudly announced an increase in the minimum wage is set to take place from April 1st. Woohoo! 25 cents more an hour! This takes our minimum wage from $13.50 to $13.75 an hour. That’s a $2 increase per day, and workers will earn around $10 more a week. This is before tax. Can our lowest paid workers afford to live off an income of $550 (pre-tax) a week?
There are thousands of real people, doing real work with real responsibilities in our communities such as caregivers, security guards and cleaners to name a few. These people have families to feed and bills to pay, purely for survival. But what if they wish to go on a holiday, pay for a child’s school camp or dabble in a bit of Wellington’s culture? Maybe for people in minimum responsibility jobs, some might view $13.75 as a fair representation of their efforts. When making a comparison to the UK minimum wage of £6.19, our $13.75 doesn’t look so bad. But Australia dishes out a grand $15.95, or a minimum of $606.40 per week. No wonder so many young Kiwis are heading over the ditch.
And the governments excuse for this pitiful increase? Labour Minister Simon Bridges claims our wage rates represent “a careful balance between protecting low paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost as the economic recovery gains pace.” Thus, we must consider reality. In a utopian world all employers would have the funds to comply with minimum wage requirements, no matter the economic situation. This seems to be the belief of writers of an independent report prepared for Service and Food workers union. This report published two weeks ago identified $18.40 as a suitable ‘living wage’. Wouldn’t this be amazing! That’s an extra $186 per week – now that would be something to get excited about! But in this economy, with job losses being a regular occurrence, this prospect is unfortunately out of reach. Still, workers and employers need to stay positive. 25cents is better than nothing. And if recent trends are anything to go by, the minimum wage should continue its climb, taking you along for the ride.
And for all you employees on minimum wage, remember:
- The harder you work, no matter what the pay, the more respect you will gain in and around the workplace;
- A positive attitude goes a long way; and
- Keep communication lines open between you and your employer. If you are struggling to make ends meet, discuss your options openly.
Employers paying minimum wages, take note:
- Most employees on minimum wage live from payday to payday. If you want your employees to feel valued, offer them something special like concert tickets or a voucher for excellent performance. Take a little time to show interest in your employees and keep them motivated.
- If money is tight, simply praising employees on their performance creates a positive work environment.
- Minimum wage to increase by 25c (nzherald.co.nz)