Terms and Conditions of Employment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 19th February 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy) 4:26 pm, 19th February 2019

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. A Government who cannot even guarantee a decent wage to their own employees should not be able to speak in this debate. I hope that the Minister will clarify the points that I have raised and confirm that a real London living wage will be paid to the Government’s employees. It is totally within their ability to do so.

The increase in the minimum wage will be of some help to the lowest paid, but it will not be transformative. It will not tackle extreme and growing levels of inequality, and it will certainly not end the growing levels of in-work poverty faced by millions. Even if it was a sufficient safety net, the minimum wage would not catch all workers. With the growing gig economy forcing more and more workers into sham self-employment, it is more important than ever that every worker is paid a decent living wage. However, the minimum wage does not cover self-employment, and TUC figures show that almost half of self-employed people earn less than the minimum wage, meaning that 2 million self-employed workers are now stuck on poverty pay. Does the Minister think that that is acceptable? What is she doing to address poverty pay among the self-employed?

Another glaring inconsistency is the huge discrepancy in the minimum wage for people over 21 and for those aged 18 to 20. Will the Minister set out why the Government believe that workers aged 18 to 20 should be paid a far lower rate than those aged 21 for exactly the same work? Why is the adult rate for under 25s less than for those over 25? What is it about a 24-year-old doing exactly the same work as a 26-year-old that leads the Minister to believe the former deserves less?