Increasing the UK's minimum wage has not hurt employment

New findings from the country's Low Pay Commission undermines warnings that jobs would be lost...

The introduction of a national living wage in Britain has not affected employment, according to the body tasked with monitoring low pay in the nation.

The Low Pay Commission has found "no clear evidence" that jobs or hours have been negatively impacted since the minimum wage was increased in April.

In fact, it stated that employment has continued to rise, even in sectors – such as retail, hospitality and cleaning - that were considered to be most vulnerable to a hike in wages.

The commission did note that "in some cases" employers might have to reduce other staff perks and payments to fund the basic wage increase, but also recorded "o significant change" in either overtime levels and higher rates of pay for working on Sundays or bank holidays.

The social care sector was the one area where the body said the national living wage could "present challenges".

The UK introduced a compulsory national living wage for workers aged over 25 in April.

The rate of £7.20 (€9.07) per hour was an increase of 50p per hour on the previous minimum wage in the UK.

However, the new wage attracted criticism with unions saying it was not fair for those under 25 and business groups saying it could hit productivity.

Earlier this year, the proposed introduction of a similar living wage of €11.50 per hour faced resistance in Ireland.

In June, the head of Ireland's biggest hotel group said that such a move could divert investment to the UK.

Dalata's Pat McCann told the Irish Independent that having to pay workers that hourly amount would have a knock-on effect across the hotel group.

He said:

"Everyone would love to pay more, but that becomes very difficult when you consider that it would come on top of all the other costs...

"The reality is that you have a responsibility when you have to invest other people’s money."

Conversely, Dr Nat O'Connor of the Living Wage Technical Group recently told Newstalk:

"When you look at the numbers of what someone can afford, €9.15 an hour is simply not enough for someone working full-time. Never mind those who are working part-time."

Dr O'Connor said the living wage only represents a rate of pay that would grant a "frugal standard of living", but that there could be benefits to employers as well as staff.

Citing lower staff turnover as living wage benefit, O'Connor said that with the current minimum wage, an employer is "not going to keep skills... not going to build up expertise."

A living wage means a "motivated staff who are going to be more productive."

Dr O'Connor also dismissed concerns that higher pay would lead to higher inflation.

"We're really looking at the low-wage sectors of the economy," he argued. "There's very little evidence of that. It's unlikely to have huge inflationary pressure."

In Budget 2017, it was announced that there would be a mere 10c increase, with the minimum hourly wage set to rise to €9.25 from January.