Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A Better Way...for Better Pay.

A Better Way...for Better Pay.

On 1st October 2010, there will be a new category created in the National Minimum Wage that will cover Modern Apprenticeships. This legislation will set a new Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage at £2.50 per hour for young apprentices (under 19-years-old) and for those who are in the first year of their apprenticeships.

This includes payment for time spent training off the job.

While the move by Government to include Modern Apprentices within the National Minimum Wage framework is a step in the right direction, surely £2.50 per hour is morally substandard?  Being paid at £2.50/hour for a working week of 40 hours equates to £100 per week, which works out to be just £5,200 per year.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently found that a single person in the UK today needs to earn £14,400 (before tax) to afford a “basic but acceptable standard of living”.  Getting paid £5,200 per year comes nowhere close to meeting the needs of a basic lifestyle, risks poverty and exclusion and increases the likelihood of increased drop out rates.

There is a danger that employers will choose to set the apprenticeship wage at the minimum.  Apprentice rates should reflect the job done – if an apprentice does a full-time job, he or she should be paid fairly for it. Think about it: a Modern Apprentice on the new Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage would be required to work 111 hours per week just to earn the recommended £14,400 annual salary!

The vast majority of Modern Apprenticeships are undertaken by young people between the ages of 16-24, and it is essential that our young workers are given fair remuneration for their positive contributions to their employers.

The STUC supports a ‘Living Wage’ in Scotland of at least £7.15 per hour for all workers, including Modern Apprentices.

From 1st October 2010 the new National Minimum Wage rates and age bands will apply:
·    £5.93 - the rate for workers aged 21 and over
·    £4.92 - the 18 - 20 rate
·    £3.64 - the 16 - 17 rate
·    £2.50 – the rate for apprentices who are either under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship

The STUC began a new Modern Apprenticeship Project in June 2010 to develop and increase trade union activity and engagement with the Modern Apprenticeship programme in Scotland.  Tommy Breslin is the Development Officer responsible for the Modern Apprenticeship Project.  He can be contacted on 0141 337 8152 or at tbreslin@stuc.org.uk.

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