1 Apr 2018

Boost to minimum wage takes effect

7:49 am on 1 April 2018

The minimum wage goes up by 75 cents today, from $15.75 an hour to $16.50.

It's the first of the government's several planned rises aimed at lifting the wage to $20 an hour by April 2021.

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Photo: 123RF

In addition to the minimum wage, the 'training' and 'starting-out' wages have also risen to $13.20 an hour.

People who work today will be paid the new rate - but it won't be time-and-a-half, as Easter Sunday is not a public holiday. However, Easter Monday is.

Unite Union said the raise would mean just that little bit extra to spend on the rent and basic necessities.

Its national director Mike Treen said there was still a way to go to reach the living wage.

"We're thankful for the increase and we'll bank that," he said.

"But we have to look at also the rates above the minimum wage so that those people who get additional training, who get additional skills, who put in the service of two, three, four years, that they get a reward as well."

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce said businesses had accepted the wage rise was going to happen.

But its chief executive Michael Barnett said he did not think the government had the right motivation for it.

"They've done it on the basis that we have a vibrant economy - it's the wrong way round to do it, what we should be doing is encouraging people to be better skilled so that they get a higher pay," he said.

Mr Barnett said most businesses would have been prepared for the rise but the government's plan to raise it to $20 an hour by 2021 would be problematic.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has previously said the increase would benefit about 164,000 workers and their families, lifting wages throughout the economy by $129 million a year.

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