The Countries with the Highest Minimum Wages

The US had the twelfth highest minimum wage in the world.
The US had the twelfth highest minimum wage in the world.
  • The US has the twelfth highest minimum wage in the world in 2018.
  • Luxembourg, Australia, and France topped the list.
  • Minimum wages increase the standard of living in society.

Minimum wages are the lowest payments or salaries employers can legally pay their workers for work done. The minimum wage legislation was introduced as a way of stopping the exploitation of employees in sweatshops. Minimum wages increase the standards of living in a country as well as boosting employee morale and reducing inequality. The first modern attempt to set the minimum was seen in Australia and New Zealand during the 1890s. 

Countries With The Highest Minimum Wages


Luxembourg had the highest minimum wage rate on the planet of $13.78 per hour for unskilled employees over 18 years old in 2018. Luxembourg’s minimum wage rate increased from $13.78 in 2018 to $14.12 in 2019.  The legal working hours in Luxembourg are 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. The minimum wages decrease by about 25% for individuals classified as adolescent workers (below 18 years) and increases for individuals classified as skilled employees by 20%. The minimum wages in Luxembourg are adjusted in line with the cost of living in the country. If the consumer-price-index increases by a certain percentage, the salaries are regulated by the same rate.


In Australia, most employees are covered by the Industrial Award, which varies with industry, geographical location, and the age of the employee. The minimum wage for employees not covered by the award or an agreement grew from $12.14 in 2018 to $13.47 per hour as of July 1, 2019. The figure set by the Fair Work Commission excludes the mandatory superannuation-contribution of about 9.5% of an employee’s annual wages. Minimum wages for employees below 16 years of age are usually 36.8% of the minimum wages of workers over 21 years of age.


The French government introduced its first national minimum wage via the Interprofessional Guaranteed Minimum Wage Law in 1950. The law introduced one baseline hourly rate for Paris and another for the other parts of France. The French minimum wages are updated annually by the government, and the increase can never be less than the price inflation of that year. The French minimum salary increased from $11.66 in 2018 to $11.83 in 2019.

New Zealand

New Zealand became the first state on the planet to introduce minimum wages in 1894 when its government enacted the Industrial-Conciliation-and-Arbitration Act. The present minimum wage law is described in the 1983 Minimum Wages Act. The minimum wages for employees in New Zealand grew from $11.66 in 2018 to $12.55 in 2019.  The minimum salaries for employees between the ages of 16 and 17 years and the individuals in training cannot be less than 80% of the wages for individuals over 18 years old.

The History Of Minimum Wages

Current minimum wage bills can trace their roots to the 1349 Ordinance of Laborers, which determined the maximum salaries for employees in medieval England. King Edward III was a rich landowner who employed serfs to till his land. Everything was working perfectly until the autumn of 1348 when the Great Plague decimated the population of England, resulting in a severe shortage of labor. The shortage of work caused the wages to increase, which encouraged the king to set the salary ceiling. The wage ceiling was determined by the Justice of the Peace (JP) in the Kingdom. As time passed, the JP started setting minimum wages. The practice of setting minimum salaries was officially adopted for the textile industry by King James I in 1604.

The Countries with the Highest Minimum Wages

4New Zealand11.200020932.45004783.0630
8United Kingdom10.340020053.090067530.1720
12United States7.250015080329064.9170
13South Korea6.840019880.750051225.3080
18Czech Republic5.170010342.440010689.2090
24Costa Rica3.37009132.30005047.5610

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