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Minimum wage law is the body of law which prohibits employers from hiring employees or workers for less than a given hourly, daily or monthly minimum wage. More than 90% of all countries have some kind of minimum wage legislation.[1]

History

Until recently, minimum wage laws were usually very tightly focused. In the US and Great Britain, for example, they applied only to women and children. Only after the Great Depression did many industrialized economies extend them to the general work force. Even then, the laws were often specific to certain industries. In France, for example, they were extensions of existing trade union legislation. In the US, industry specific wage restrictions were held to be unconstitutional

Until recently, minimum wage laws were usually very tightly focused. In the US and Great Britain, for example, they applied only to women and children. Only after the Great Depression did many industrialized economies extend them to the general work force. Even then, the laws were often specific to certain industries. In France, for example, they were extensions of existing trade union legislation. In the US, industry specific wage restrictions were held to be unconstitutional. The country's Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established a uniform national minimum wage for nonfarm, nonsupervisory workers. Coverage was later extended to most of the labor force.[2]

  • In 1894, New Zealand established such arbitration boards with the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act
  • In 1896, the colony of Victoria, Australia established similar boards
  • In 1907, the Harvester decision was handed down in Australia. It established a 'living wage' for a man, his wife and two children to "live in frugal comfort"
  • In 1909, the Trade Boards Act was enacted in the United Kingdom, establishing four such boards
  • In 1912, the state of Massachusetts, United States, set minimum wages for women and children
  • In the United States, statutory minimum wages were first introduced nationally in 1938[3]
  • In the 1960s, minimum wage laws were introduced into Latin America as part of the Alliance for Progress; however these minimum wages were, and are, low[4]

Minimum wage law by country

Australia

The Australian National Minimum Wage is the minimum base rate of pay for ordinary hours worked to any employee who is not covered by a Modern Award or an Agreement.[5] In 1896 in Victoria, Australia, an amendment to the Factories Act provided for the creation of a wages board.[6] The wages board did not set a universal minimum wage; rather it set basic wages for 6 industries that were considered to pay low wages.[7] First enacted as a four-year experiment, the wages board was renewed in 1900 and made permanent in 1904; by that time it covered 150 different industries.[7] By 1902, other Australian states, such as New South Wales and Western Australia, had also formed wages boards.[6] The notion of a "basic wage" was established in 1907 with the Harvester Judgment. In Australia, on 14 December 2005, the Australian Fair Pay Commission was established under the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Act 2005 responsible for the adjustment of the standard federal minimum wage,[8] replacing the role of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission that took submissions from a variety of sources to determine appropriate minimum wages. The Australian Fair Pay Commission was replaced by Fair Work Australia in 2010.[9]

Historical rates

References

References