Two million workers, promises the government, will get a pay rise in April bumping their hourly rate to ‘at least’ £11 an hour.
But to get it - they will need to be a certain age.
Because while those aged 23 and over can pocket the government’s maximum National Living Wage – those under 23 cannot.
The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to – the National Living Wage is higher than the National Minimum Wage and workers will get it if they’re over the age of 23.
Young adults - legally allowed to vote, join the services, go to war for their country, or marry – in 2023 do not by law have to be paid the same wage as someone five years older.
Imagine it? Two baristas each morning get up and go to the same job, with the same level of responsibility, in the same coffee shop - serving customers, cleaning tables and floors, washing plates and cups and managing stock.
Yet at the end of the working day one has pocketed considerably more money than the other for their day’s graft.
This isn’t about rewarding – or recognising - the experience they've got in making a decent cup of coffee.
In fact, in my imaginary coffee shop our youngest fictional member of staff, earning £7.49, has been knocking-up cappuccinos since they were 16 in various chains across the country since they needed a job through college and then university.
Our older employee, walking away with £10.42 an hour (soon to be £11) just took on the entirely new role for more flexible hours to work around their family.
We wouldn’t accept paying one of those workers less if they had a disability, or because one was male and one female, so why is age-based discrimination still acceptable in 2023? Age doesn’t always equate to experience.
According to the Office of National Statistics – the number of families in England and Wales with adult children living with parents rose 13.6% between the 2011 Census and Census 2021 to nearly 3.8 million.
Not really a surprise when you factor in the sky-high cost of living when combined with a tough rental or mortgage market. It also appears to be a dream nudged further out of reach because they have to wait until their 23rd birthday to be paid the same as the rest of the adult population.
The UK is also somewhat alone in pursuing its age-based pay system.
Much of Europe gives workers the full minimum wage at 18 while in America workers under 20 are given a lower rate for the first couple of months work – rather like a probationary period – before being permitted to claim the minimum federal wage.
There is, I’m sure, many an argument for such a tiered system.
Working for less, no doubt, makes young people more attractive to prospective employers. Perhaps it stops them losing out to older (not necessarily more experienced) candidates? It helps get them into work and gives them a foothold on the employment ladder.
But what about the property ladder though? Or their ability to save? Those remain firmly out of reach as a result.