Tackling National Minimum Wage increases

Calculator and money on a desk

As confirmed in the Autumn Statement, the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage will increase from 1 April 2024. According to the Treasury, this is the largest-ever increase in the minimum wage in cash terms. It’s estimated to benefit 2.7m workers, according to the government. However, for many employers, particularly in the hospitality, retail, and leisure sectors, this has huge implications for the bottom line of sectors that are already struggling.

Wage rate increases

National Minimum Wage

Rates from 1 April 2024

  • 18 – 20: £11.44
  • Under 18: £8.60
  • Apprentice: £6.40

Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either:

  • aged under 19
  • aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Apprentices are entitled to the minimum wage for their age if they both:

  • are aged 19 or over
  • have completed the first year of their apprenticeship.

For guidance on who receives the NMW see the government website.

Implications for hospitality, retail and leisure industries

Undoubtedly, these rates will add cost to the bottom line. In sectors where labour costs already make up a substantial element of turnover, this will increase pressure on businesses.

Another factor to consider is that wage increases will impact the entire workforce, not just those receiving NMW or NLW. The pay increases at this level will impact those on higher wages and through to management.

What can businesses do?

  • Improve efficiencies

It’s now more important than ever to ensure that the right people are in the right places doing the right jobs. Businesses will need to operate more efficiently than ever before. Look at organisational structures to see where there may be opportunities to upskill and increase efficiencies. In service-based businesses, there may be opportunities to streamline processes or remove time-wasting steps that could speed up service.

  • Effective rota management to improve efficiency

Streamlining rotas means ensuring that the business is staffed adequately during peak hours, but can also contribute to improved efficiency.

  • Analyse historical data to identify peak times and adjust staff schedules accordingly.
  • Use technology to assist with this process.
  • Communicate clearly and consistently with the team about any changes to schedules to reduce the likelihood of conflicts.
  • Regularly review the rota based on performance and change accordingly.
  • Invest in employee retention strategies

Happy engaged employees are more likely to stay with the business, which will reduce the overall cost for replacing, recruiting and training new staff. These include implementing wellbeing initiatives, staff culture days (see our case study), ongoing training and development opportunities and access to benefits. Many of our clients are using Thanks Ben allowing staff to choose their own benefits. Consider flexible working schedules that allow staff to balance work around their other commitments.

  • Community partnerships

Creating internships or shared workforce programmes with other local businesses or educational establishments can provide a pool of potential part-time or temporary staff. These initiatives can avoid high recruitment costs and could solve short-term staffing issues.