GMB Young Members fighting for a Living Wage
27 October 2016

You may be aware that on April 1st this year the Government introduced its ‘National Living Wage’ legally requiring employers to pay workers £7.20 per hour. However as well as being far off the £10 per hour real living wage that workers need, it also only applies to workers over 25. This means that 3.3 million young adult workers under 25 could be paid up to 23% less than their over 25 colleagues despite doing the same work!

The GMB fights for a real living wage that workers of all ages can all live on. Young GMB members are currently campaigning to include under 25s in the National Living Wage and have launched a parliamentary petition which you can sign here: SIGN THE PETITION - CLICK HERE

Next week from 30th October to 5th November is living wage week and to make young workers’ voice heard, young members have lots of activities planned that you can get involved in over the week.

Meeting with Labour MPs in Westminster, Tuesday 1st November:

Firstly, we are looking for any young members who are aged 18 -24 and earn below the National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour to come with us to the meeting to share their experiences with Holly Lynch MP and Jack Dromey MP as well in a GMB video for the campaign. We are also looking for anyone over 25 to come down who may have lost out on work because the National Living Wage allows employers to be tempted to hire only under 25s as it is costs less to pay them.

The meeting in Westminster next Tuesday will be at Portcullis House at 2pm and travel expenses will be reimbursed by the union. If you would like to attend or know someone who does please email Young Members Officer Simon Walsh at

Can't make the meeting? Don’t worry! Here’s more ways you can get involved:

If you can't make the meeting or are not affected by the National Living Wage but would still like to take part in the campaign action you can get involved in the following ways:

1.    Campaign Video: The video will feature any young members who would like to speak about the issue of low pay at work and the National Living Wage. To get involved, email Simon at

2.    Letter to Greg Clark MP: We also plan to put pressure on the Government Minister responsible, Greg Clark MP, to include under 25s in the National Living Wage by getting as many young members to send the letter (see below) to his parliamentary address. Just copy and paste the letter below (including the footnotes) into your email inbox and send it with your name to Of course if you want to send your own version of the letter to the minister highlighting your own experiences please do and let us know. We are also encouraging young members to get in touch with their own MPs about this issue so that young workers' voices are heard in every constituency!

3.     Sign the petition: Sign our petition to include young workers under 25 in the National Living Wage by clicking this link: CLICK HERE TO SIGN. Please get as many people you know to sign the petition as well!

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about the campaign please email Young Members Officer Simon Walsh at or the GMB Young Members Network at


Letter to Greg Clark MP (click here to download the word document)

Send with your name at the bottom of the letter by email to (don't forget to include the footnotes!)


Dear Rt Hon Greg Clark MP,

Include Young Workers aged 18-24 in the National Living Wage

I am writing to you as a young worker to urge you to take action to tackle unequal pay and in-work poverty that faces a generation of young workers in Britain today.

As you will be aware, on the 1st April this year the Government brought in a new National Living Wage which legally requires employers to pay workers £7.20 per hour but only for workers aged 25 and over. However this meant that young workers aged 18-24 who do the same work as their over 25 colleagues can be paid between 7% and 26% less for it[1], resulting in a massive disparity in pay which denies young workers the basic right to equal pay for equal work, set out in the Equality Act 2010.

Following the recommendation of the Low Pay Commission, the National Minimum Wage rate has been increased slightly this month from £6.70 to £6.95 per hour for workers aged 21-24 and from £5.30 to £5.55 per hour. Despite the small rise in wages this pay inequality continues, with young workers aged 18-24 are still being paid between 3% and 23% less simply because they were born after 1991.[2]

Unfortunately, we have even seen young workers under 25 who were previously paid £7.20 per hour having their pay cut to National Minimum Wage level by their employer as a result of the National Living Wage age-minimum being 25 years old.[3]

This pay inequality is feeding the crisis of in-work poverty that is increasingly facing Britain's young workers, and could face many of the 3.3 million young workers that could be affected by these lower wage rates.[4] Many young adult workers under 25 struggle with the same living costs as over 25s, for them low pay is the one thing trapping them in in-work poverty struggling to afford living in a home of their own and look after their kids.

This is an issue that affects working people of all ages. Including young workers under 25 in the National Living Wage would not just protect them from in-work poverty but also workers over 25 from discrimination in being hired for a job, as unscrupulous employers could currently be inclined to substitute older workers for the cheaper labour of workers aged under 25.[5] Equal pay makes better work for everyone.

Instead of explaining their reasons for the exclusion of under 25s from National Living Wage, previous Senior Government Ministers have sought to add further distress to young workers struggling to make ends meet by publicly justifying this policy on the belief that young workers are somehow "too unproductive" to warrant the higher wage rate, then admitting in Parliament that there is no evidence to support this.[6]  It would be really helpful for me to understand your position on why it is young workers should not receive the same rate of pay as their colleagues in the same job?

Previous Government ministers have argued that including under 25s in the National Living Wage would be a wage rise that would harm our chances of employment.[7] However when 21 year olds were moved from the Youth Development Rate to the National Minimum Wage Rate in 2010 the Low Pay Commission found no evidence of any negative effects on employment for 21 year olds following the wage rise and that “on the contrary their employment rates, which had been falling, stabilised at around 67 per cent through 2010 until the third quarter of 2011.”[8]

We believe that there is no excuse to deny anyone equal pay for equal work simply because of their age. This is also the view shared by the wider general public from across the political spectrum. In a poll by Survation in September last year, 66% of voters stated that they believe the higher National Living Wage rate should also be given to workers under 25, with 55% of Conservative Party supporters, 74% of Labour Party supporters and 69% of UK Independence party voters in favour of extending the living wage to under 25s.[9]

By setting the eligibility for the National Living Wage at 25, the UK has the highest threshold for being paid the standard adult rate in the developed world, joined only by Greece.[10] I hope that you take urgent action on this issue to include workers aged 18-24 are in the National Living Wage rate of £7.20 per hour, ensuring equal pay for equal work for all and preventing a generation of young people suffering from in-work poverty.





[1] That those aged 18-21 are paid 26% less and those aged 21-24 nearly 7% less is worked out by calculating the percentage difference between the NLW and the NMW wage rates before October 1st 2016: age 18-21 £5.30ph and age 21-24 £6.70ph.

[2] Calculated using the same method as above but with the current NMW wage rates since October 1st 2016: age 18-21 £5.55ph and age 21-24 £6.95ph.

[3] ‘Think young people are better off on the National Living Wage? Ask Anthony’, The Guardian, (7th April 2016) [accessed 26th October 2016]

[4] ‘We Need Fair Wages for Under 25s - Young People Are Being Told They Aren’t Worth £7.20 an Hour’, Huffington Post, (7th June 2016) [accessed 26th October 2016]

[5] Low Pay Commission, National Minimum Wage Report: Spring 2016, p.175, paragraph 5.48 [accessed 26th October 2016]


[6] ‘Government Admits It Has No Proof Under 25s Are Too Unproductive to Warrant the National Living Wage’, Huffington Post, (9th June 2016) [accessed 26th October 2016]

[7] ‘New minimum wage rates for under 25s: why are they different?’, GOV.UK Website, [accessed 26th October 2016]

[8] Low Pay Commission, National Minimum Wage Report: Spring 2016, p.142, paragraph 4.46 [accessed 26th October 2016]


[9] ‘Labour Party Conference HuffPost Poll: Under-25s Should Be Given National Living Wage’, Huffington Post, (26th September 2015) [accessed 26th October 2016]

[10] Low Pay Commission, National Minimum Wage Report: Spring 2016, p.242, paragraph 7.9 [accessed 26th October 2016]