Which Country Introduced Minimum Wage Legislation For The First Time?

Minimum wage helps maintain a basic level of income for every employee.
Minimum wage helps maintain a basic level of income for every employee.

By the end of the 20th century, most countries had come up with legislation regarding minimum wage. Today, this is one of the hot topics in the United States and all over the world. Most of the countries around the globe boast of some minimum wage. The primary purpose of these laws is to protect employees against unfair exploitation by their employers. Also, these laws help in stabilizing the post-depression economy. They also help in the creation of a healthy living standard for workers by protecting their well-being and health.

The First Country To Introduce Minimum Wage Laws

The first country in the world to come up with these laws was New Zealand, which passed the legislation as early as the year 1894. The laws covered all the industries as well as all the businesses across New Zealand. Australia then followed suit by coming up with minimum wage-related rules and became the second country all over the world to implement these laws. It called this law the Victoria that initially covered a few industries in the country. Six industries were notorious for underpaying their workers; hence, these laws were implemented to cover them. By the year 1904, a total of 150 industries had been covered by these laws. Due to its success, Western Australia and New South Wales adopted them in the year 1902.

Minimum Wage Laws Become Popular Elsewhere

The experimentation of the minimum wage laws in these regions encouraged other countries in various parts of the world to adopt them. The United Kingdom passed its own version in the year 1909. In the United States of America, these laws came a bit late as compared to other countries. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt introduced the first set of these laws in the year 1938. It saw the setting of the minimum wage to twenty-five cents per hour that would have translated to four US dollars per hour in the current economy.The minimum wage laws in the US were introduced as part of the FLSA, dubbed as the Fair Labor Act. Besides, Fair Labor Act covers other things such as the standard for government employees at the federal, state, and local levels; recordkeeping; employment standards; as well as overtime pays. Before the passing of these laws in the year 1938, Massachusetts had already passed related legislation as early as 1912. However, this state covered laws that were only related to children and women.

Many Countries Yet To Implement Such Laws

Despite the adoption of the minimum wage laws by many countries, some still lack such laws. Most of these countries without minimum wage laws are developing or underdeveloped like those in sub-Saharan Africa. Few developed countries have not implemented rules related to the minimum wage. However, they are very few, and their economies are better off as compared to those in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong are good examples. Others are Singapore, Denmark, and Chile. In these countries, their economies are stable; hence companies pay their workers well. It is only in the poor regions that underpayment is rampant due to high cases of poverty.


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