Minimum Wage Law

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A Minimum Wage Law is a labor market regulation that defines the minimum allowable worker wage (minimum wage) within its regulatory region.



    • 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]

      Until recently, minimum wage laws were usually very tightly focused. In the U.S. 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 U.S., 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]

      The first moves to legislate wages did not set minimum wages, rather the laws created arbitration boards and councils to resolve labour conflicts before the recourse to strikes.[citation needed] * 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]

  1. ILO 2006: Minimum wages policy (PDF)
  2. Eatwell, John, Ed.; Murray Milgate, Peter Newman (1987). The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics. London: The Macmillan Press Limited. pp. 476–478. ISBN 0-333-37235-2. 
  3. Sanjiv Sachdev (2003). Raising the rate: An evaluation of the uprating mechanism for the minimum wage. Employee Relations. 
  4. Bethell, Leslie (June 29, 1990). The Cambridge History of Latin America. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-24518-4.  p. 342.



  • (Robin & Lord, 1992) ⇒ Tony Robin, and Nick Lord. (1992). “Minimum Wage Policy." The Mathematical Gazette, 76(477).