More than 90% of all countries have some kind of minimum wage legislation.
Although minimum wage laws are in effect in many jurisdictions, differences of opinion exist about the benefits and drawbacks of a minimum wage.
Supporters of the minimum wage say they increases the standard of living of workers, reduce poverty, reduce inequality, boost morale and force businesses to be more efficient.
Opponents say that if it is high enough to be effective, it increases unemployment, particularly among workers with very low productivity due to inexperience or handicap, thereby harming less skilled workers and possibly excluding some groups from the labor market; additionally it may be less effective and more damaging to businesses than other methods of reducing poverty.
The first minimum wage law was enacted in 1896 in Victoria, Australia.
An amendment to Victoria’s Factories Act created a wages board. The wages board did not set a universal minimum wage. Instead it set basic wages for six low-paying industries.
First enacted as a four-year experiment, the wages board was renewed in 1900 and made permanent in 1904 when it covered 150 different industries.
By 1902, other Australian states, such as New South Wales and Western Australia, had also formed wages boards.
Also in 1896, New Zealand enacted the first national minimum wage laws. Unlike the wages board of Victoria, were enforced by compulsory arbitration.In 1907 the British government sent Ernest Aves to investigate the Australia and New Zealand’s minimum wage laws.
Churchill Brings Minimum Wage Laws To England
Winston Churchill, then president of England’s Board of Trade, introduced the Trade Boards Act on March 24, 1909, partly due to Aves’ report. The Trade Boards Act became law, and went into effect in January 1910.