There is no definitive explanation as to why the First of April is associated with hoaxes and fools, a widespread tradition which goes back hundreds of years. Some historians have suggested it originated in the Middle Ages, when people who continued to celebrate new year’s day at the end of March were ridiculed because it had by then been generally been accepted as being on 01 January.
Fast forward a few hundred years. In the United Kingdom, the financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March for the purposes of corporation tax and government financial statements. Changes in the law are often therefore introduced at the beginning of April. On 1 April 2016 the National Living Wage took effect. It is certainly not a hoax and to evaluate how it will affect many in low paid employment it is useful to look at the history of a UK minimum wage.
Following the passage of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, the national minimum wage (NMW) came into force on 1 April 1999. From this date, most workers in the UK aged 18 or over became entitled by law to a national minimum hourly wage, regardless of where they work, the size of the firm or the worker’s occupation (later extended to workers aged 16 and 17).
From 6 April 2015, the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 consolidated previous NMW regulations. The NMW became fixed at different rates for certain groups of workers, depending on age. These are revised in accordance with recommendations from the Low Pay Commission, which reviews them periodically.All workers (except those in certain specified groups) are entitled to the NMW. They include:
- all employees, that is, workers who work under a contract of employment,
- casual workers, part-time workers, workers on short-term contracts, and workers employed by sub-contractors,
- agency workers,
- homeworkers and pieceworkers,
- certain self-employed workers.
The latest National Living Wage regulations which came into force this month make two further changes.
- The addition of a new £7.20 band to the National Minimum Wage for people aged 25 or over.
- Doubling the fines for employers who don’t pay enough
If you are 25 or over and are currently eligible to receive the National Minimum Wage you should be paid the National Living Wage for all work done from 1 April 2016. Employers can’t fire people or alter their work to get around the National Living Wage. This works in the same way as the right not to be dismissed or suffer detriment because of the National Minimum Wage. Changes that can be challenged include:
- changing contract terms
- withdrawing work from agency workers or people on zero-hour contracts
- moving work to people under 25
If you feel you need information and advice regarding the National Living Wage you can call the Acas Helpline or call 0300 123 1100 or visit http://www.acas.org.uk/. You can also get help from your local CAB. If you do or need information and advice on Benefits, Work, Debt and Money, Consumer Issues, Relationships, Housing, Law and Rights, Education, Discrimination, Tax and Healthcare. You can:
– call 0344 848 7969 to speak to an assessor or make an appointment to talk to an adviser face-to face. (calls to this service cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package).
– visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ to access our comprehensive range of information and advice,
– or follow us on Twitter @Waverley CAB