Higher Minimum Wages from October

From October, the minimum wage per hour for adults will become £6.31 and those aged between 18 and 20 years old will be paid £5.03. This probably increase the need for more employment documents.

Despite the raises of 12p and 5p respectively, fall below the current rate of inflation they coincide with the recommendations made to the government by the Low Pay Commission.

No matter that the Commission urged the government not to increase the minimum wage for apprentices, the suggestion is about an increase of 3p so that it reaches £2.68 an hour.

Business Secretary Vince Cable commented the important role of the Low Pay Commission in the settlement of the rates of the minimum wage: “Apprenticeships are at the heart of our goal to support a stronger economy, and so it is important to continue to make them attractive to young people. Therefore, I am not taking forward the LPC’s recommendation to freeze the apprenticeship rate due to non-compliance, but instead am raising it in line with the youth rates.”

Ian Murray MP agreed with the changes but said that the government had to be more careful with employers who did not pay their workers the minimum wage.

In his words, Labour would not stop pressing ministers to promote the living wage.

Of course, as usual there are people who do not agree with the proposed changes.

The director of policy for the British Chambers of Commerce, Dr. Adam Marshall, said the business costs would inevitably increase.

“We are disappointed that the government has chosen to raise the adult national minimum wage rate by 1.9%, an increase that is over 50% higher than current average pay growth.”

According to TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, wages should have increased even more in spite of the wish of the government for a freeze of the minimum wages.


Loopholes for Student Visa

Shadow secretary Yvette Cooper announced that there are loopholes in the regulations about student visa and these do allow tens of thousands of people to enter in the UK without any checks.

Ms. Cooper accused the previous government and shared her opinion that Labour has to try harder in order to recognise the economic impact of immigration. She mentioned that while in government Labour did not always do the best so that immigration is managed in a way that it is “fair for all”.

She admitted that now her party did not like to talk about problems but she promised that things would change.

“We will support the government where it introduces sensible policies and we will point out where they are getting things wrong,” she said.

In her words the fines for firms that pay migrants less than the minimum wage should be doubled and British workers have to be given more opportunities to start working in sectors with high levels of foreign recruitment.

Ms Cooper told Today that the most important thing that now government has focused on was reduction of net migration.

She said she was informed of about 150,000 who were probably abusing student visas.

According to the information she has, the number of such visas has gone up by 30,000 a year since the election and at the same time applicants are not obliged to meet any academic requirements.

Another thing she mentioned was the problem with illegal immigration in the UK.

When talking about migration from the EU she proposed that the government coped with this problem in a “sensible” way.

The decision which has to be taken is to be forbidden for newcomers to claim Jobseekers Allowance in the first few days or weeks of their arrival.

Immigration minister Mark Harper, responding to Ms Cooper’s comments, told Today:

“Our policy of reducing net migration has been successful so far. We’ve reduced net migration by a third. Most of that has been from a reduction of people coming into the country – 74,000 of the 84,000 reduction in net migration is a reduction in immigration.”

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Youth Offender Education and Secure Colleges

Talking about the future of young custody the government has announced plans to “put education at the heart of detention”.

Chris Graying said that free schools and academies should provide “secure colleges” for young offenders.

It is a fact that most of the 15-17 years old students who were sent to young offender institutes have been excluded from school and show a literacy level of a child at the age of 7-11.

The better education could provide these young people better way of life as they will acquire skills which would help them when searching a place to work.

The money given on detaining of about 1,800 young people is around £245m a year and this is why Mr. Grayling said the country spent too much money and the results were not satisfactory enough.

He said: “I want to see new models, perhaps something like secure training colleges, providing education in a period of detention rather than detention with education as an afterthought. I want young people to get the education and skills they need to turn their backs on crime for good.”

Nowadays youth offender’s institutes are bound to provide 15 hours of education each week, but the reality usually does not corresponds to the documents.

ManchesterCollege, which is the one of the main institutes that provides such courses, has received some critics on the quality of the courses.

Frances Cook of the Howard League for Penal Reform was confused by the plans, however. “We should never send children to prison to get an education”, she said.

“Almost all the children who end up in custody could be dealt with in the community, and that is the way to get them back into school, college or training”

This case was a good example for the thousands of other unemployed people who were forced to work this way.

These two cases may be assumed as a trouble for the Department of Work and Pensions because they will no longer have the possibility to force people work on their schemes.

“All of those who have been stripped of their benefits have a right to claim the money back that has been unlawfully taken away from them,” added solicitor Tessa Gregory.

However, the DWP said they will still not pay any money.

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GCSE Reforms rejected in Wales

After the decision of the Welsh government to rebuff the proposed changes to GCSE exams in England there is a big chance that a schism forms between the English and Welsh educational systems.

While Wales is going to continue in the same way as now, in England GCSE will be replaced by the English Baccalaureate for subjects such as English and Maths.

There is a special system of examinations in Scotland and a review is to be carried out in Northern Ireland.

Jeff Cuthbert, the Deputy Minister of Skills said: “We will retain GCSEs and A-levels. Where necessary we will strengthen and amend these, but ultimately we have confidence in these well-established qualifications, which are recognised around the world.”

He also mentioned he wanted “best for students” in Wales no matter if this meant “diverging from England and the rest of the UK”.

As it was said new GCSEs in English Language, Welsh First Language and Maths will be offered alongside a “revised, more rigorous” Welsh Baccalaureate.

Head teachers in Wales welcomed the decision of their government. In the words of Gareth Jones from the Welsh branch of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) English universities had been taking Scottish students for years.

Another thing that Welsh government refused to accept were the changes to the A-level system in England recently announced by Michael Gove.

The spokesperson of the Department for Education said he cared about the Welsh education system.

“We are solely concerned with doing what is best for English students. That is why we are transforming the education system to raise standards in this country to prepare pupils to compete in a global jobs market.”

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