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The National Living Wage (NLW) came into effect in April 2016 for workers aged 25 and over and has caused many businesses to consider their remuneration policies for employees. The initial rate of £7.20 is a 50p increase in the rate that used to apply. In terms of detailed rules, the NLW is really just a new category rate for the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
However there is an important difference of principle in the setting of the rates. Changes to the NMW rates have been recommended by the Low Pay Commission in an annual report. Amongst the 368 pages of the latest report are the recommendations for changes to the NMW rates to apply from 1 October 2016. The rate for 21 to 24-year-olds will increase by 25p to £6.95 for example. The Commission will continue to recommend rates for those aged under 25 and apprentices that will not damage the employment prospects of these groups. It will also recommend rates for NLW but focused on the government target of reaching 60% of median earnings by 2020 (on latest forecasts this would mean £9 in 2020).
The government has announced that the NMW and NLW cycles will be aligned with effect from April 2017 so that both rates are amended in April each year.