17 January 2014
An above-inflation rise in the national minimum wage risks snuffing out the economic recovery we are starting to see on the high street, the National Hairdressers’ Federation has warned, and could even mean some salons having to cut jobs.
In the wake of revelations that chancellor George Osborne has written to the Low Pay Commission, the body that advises the government on the rate at which the wage should be set, urging it to recommend an above-inflation increase, the Federation has argued a sharp rise in the wage would be intensely damaging for a labour-intensive industry such as hairdressing.
Mr Osborne may think the economy can now afford an above-inflation rise in the national minimum wage, but the reality for many small, independent businesses is that the climate on the high street remains desperately tough,” said NHBF chief executive Hilary Hall.
“Hairdressing is a labour-intensive industry and, as such, a sharp rise in the minimum wage will hurt salons hard, and not just salon owners. The year-on-year rises we have seen throughout the downturn have reduced margins and served to erode wage differentials between senior and junior staff. The result has been salon owners have become more reluctant to take on junior staff and apprentices, so making it harder for youngsters to break into our industry at a time of high youth unemployment.
“An above-inflation rise will simply make a difficult situation even worse and, from our feedback from members, could be the difference between some salons surviving or having to close. We urge the Low Pay Commission to set a future rate for the wage that recognises the continuing need for wage restraint while our economic recovery remains fragile.”
The national minimum wage is set at varying hourly rates based on age or whether an employee is an apprentice. Currently these are:
- 21 and over: £6.31
- 18 to 20: £5.03
- Under 18: £3.72
- Apprentice*: £2.68
*This rate is for apprentices under 19 or those in the first year of their apprenticeship.