Farmworkers harvesting garlic© Tim Scrivener

Farmers with employees should be aware the national minimum wage will increase on Saturday (1 October).

For workers aged 21 to 24 the rate will rise from £6.70/hour to £6.96/hour, with further increases for younger workers (see below).

This may rise again in April 2017.

The announcement of changes to minimum wage rates usually happen in October, but from next year will be made in April, at the same time as the national living wage rate (NLW) announcement.

See also: Analysis: How the national living wage will hit the horticulture industry hard

The minimum wage now only applies to workers up to the age of 24, while the NLW applies to every worker aged 25 and over.

Worker age bands Current hourly rate  Hourly rate from 1 October 2016 
21-24 years £6.70 £6.96
18-20 years £5.30 £5.55
Below 18 years (young worker rate) £3.87 £4.00
Apprentices £3.30 £3.40

Review

The NLW is set at £7.20/hour but faces a review and is likely to go up in April 2017.

It is expected to rise 7% year-on-year to meet the government’s target of it being 60% of median earnings by 2020.

Farmers employing a large number of workers, particularly in the horticulture industry, have said the cumulative impact of the NLW rate on their businesses is likely to be disastrous.

The introduction of the NLW and the bringing forward of the minimum wage review, could result in three wage increases in six months, if both wage rates go up in April 2017.