Information and awareness raising

Publicizing the minimum wage in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, in the months before and after the introduction of the national minimum wage (NMW) (March and April 1999) about £4.5 million was spent on a national publicity campaign, including television advertisements.

Separate campaigns subsequently targeted ethnic minority communities and young people. Over the span of 2 months (late January to late March) the NMW Helpline dealt with 50,000 enquiries.

More than a million copies of short “information” pamphlets were sent to organizations and individuals in the first few months. Separately tailored booklets on “best practice” aimed at businesses in the six sectors most affected (hospitality, retail, social care, cleaning and security, hairdressing, clothing) were produced.

These contained case studies showing how good pay could lead to better performance and were prepared in cooperation with trade associations and training bodies, which also distributed them.

In 2000, by which time the NMW had already been introduced, awareness campaigns were run using the national press, local radio, youth magazines, Internet advertisements, beer mats and postcards. A further campaign targeted television advertising and women’s press. An independent market research agency was used to check awareness and the results were generally very positive. An interactive website – www.gov.uk/browse/working/tax-minimum-wage – was set up to provide users with a decision tree to help them assess their entitlement.

NMW increases continue to be publicized through many means including the regular information bulletins that the tax authorities send to 1.5 million employers. The Trades Union Congress has from the start produced regularly updated guidance, made available to all through their websites and other networks (www.tuc.org.uk/extras/nmwenforcement.pdf). There are other groups, which publicize and advise on NMW, for example, the National Group on Homeworking (www.gn.apc.org/network/national-group-homeworking).

Source: William Brown, Darwin College, Cambridge, 2013.