The world is home to over 7 billion people and over 200 nations, presenting numerous opportunities to provide sustainable livelihoods for the global workforce. Governments are responsible for ensuring their citizens' living standards are safeguarded, and setting a minimum wage is one way to achieve this. The purpose of a minimum wage is to establish the lowest amount a worker can earn while working in a particular country, to ensure necessities are attainable for the worker.
The countries discussed in this article have some of the highest minimum wages globally and are known for having solid economies and social welfare systems. These factors make them attractive destinations for those seeking better wages and working conditions. Governments must regularly review their minimum wage policies to align with economic conditions and inflation. This will help ensure low-skilled workers receive fair wages and access necessities like housing and healthcare.
Determining the countries with the best wage structures can be challenging, given the vast number of nations worldwide. However, minimum wage standards are a clear benchmark for assessing a country's wage structure. Thus, we have compiled a list of the top ten countries with the highest minimum wages globally.
What is the Minimum Wage?
The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines minimum wage as the lowest amount an employer can pay an employee for their work over a specific period. This minimum amount cannot be lowered through individual contracts or collective bargaining. More than 90 countries worldwide have adopted this definition and enacted minimum wage laws, some exceeding the ILO standard. However, economically challenged nations with limited job opportunities often struggle to meet the minimum wage benchmark.
Employers must pay at least the minimum wage, and paying workers below the government-mandated minimum wage is illegal. The minimum wage can be established through various methods, such as a resolution, compensation board, pay committee, authoritative position, industrial tribunal, or council.
This article highlights the top ten countries with the highest minimum wage, considering the cost of living and other relevant factors.
Top 10 Countries With Highest Minimum Wages
Australia has the distinction of having the highest minimum wage in the world, set at $12.10 per hour, which is the actual take-home pay after taxes and other charges are deducted. This rate is mandated by law, and failure to comply can result in legal consequences. The Fair Work Commission, which is under the jurisdiction of the Australian Federal Government, has established a minimum wage of $18.29 per hour, inclusive of taxes and other fees, translating to a weekly minimum wage of $694.90. Australian employees typically work under an Award system based on industry, age, and location.
Luxembourg is a prosperous nation in Western Europe, renowned for its high Gross Domestic Product per capita. Despite being a small country, it boasts a strong economy, political stability, and strict national standards. Due to these factors, Luxembourg has secured its position as the second-highest-paying country in the world in terms of minimum wage. With a highly developed technological and economic infrastructure, Luxembourg has the world's highest Gross Domestic Product per capita. The country shares its borders with France, Belgium, and Germany. Employees in Luxembourg can expect an average annual minimum wage of $60,369.
Belgium has secured its place as the third-best country with a high minimum wage, with the government setting the average rate at $10.40 per hour. Employers in Belgium are obligated to pay their workers this amount or a higher rate. Despite being a member of the European Union, Belgium boasts a relatively lower cost of living, making the minimum wage a reasonable and fair compensation for employees. At a monthly rate, the minimum wage comes in at $1,673. Employees above 22 can also expect slightly higher wages from their Belgian employers.
New Zealand is a self-sufficient country with a thriving economy that attracts highly skilled migrants worldwide. The average minimum wage for workers in the country is $10.64 per hour, and employers must compensate their employees with this amount or higher. Compared to many European nations, New Zealand offers a better cost of living and lower tax rates, making it an even more attractive destination for skilled professionals seeking employment.
Despite its comparatively more minor economy within the European Union, Ireland boasts a minimum wage of $11.54 per hour due to its labour laws similar to those of the UK. For workers under 18, the country maintains a minimum wage of €9.55 per hour, which includes several sub-minimum rates. Specifically, workers under 18 are entitled to 70% of the standard minimum wage, while those over 18 receive the total minimum wage rate.
France, a prominent European nation, boasts the world's sixth-highest minimum wage. The country's economy is primarily driven by the services sector, which employs over 70% of French labour. Other notable industries include manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture.
France is renowned for its strong labour laws prioritising employee protection and rights. Despite these laws, the country's minimum wage has been criticized for being insufficient to meet the high cost of living in urban areas like Paris. Rent prices in such areas are twice as high as similar apartments in other major cities worldwide. This shortcoming has led many French workers to seek employment in other European nations with better wage packages.
According to the United Nations World Happiness Report, the Netherlands, also called Holland, is recognized as the best nation globally regarding minimum wage rates. The country boasts excellent public education, a comprehensive healthcare system, and robust infrastructure. The average minimum wage for workers in the Netherlands is $50,670 per year, with an hourly minimum wage of $5.78.
The Netherlands is a wealthy country with a thriving service-based economy, with significant contributions from the agriculture and mining sectors. The country provides ample protection for its workers, including citizens and immigrant employees, with robust legal frameworks to safeguard their rights.
Monaco, a small European country in the Mediterranean Sea, is a well-known hotspot for Europe's wealthiest individuals. Despite being an EU member state, Monaco boasts a labour market that is highly attractive to job seekers from all over Europe.
The labour laws in Monaco are strong, providing protections for workers that include fair dismissal, minimum wage payments, and benefits. Employment agreements are not required, as employees can negotiate collective agreements with their employers or adhere to existing collective agreements.
The United Kingdom has a minimum wage of £8.91 per hour, equivalent to approximately USD 12.23. The country has a relatively strong economy, with a low unemployment rate of 4.9%. The government in the United Kingdom reviews the minimum wage annually, ensuring it is in line with inflation and other economic factors. The country's social welfare system supports low-skilled workers but has been criticised in recent years for being inadequate.
The minimum wage in Germany is currently set at $10.90 per hour, but this does not indicate that German employers are ungenerous. The wage is adequate to support an average worker's standard of living due to the government providing numerous free benefits to all citizens. The government in Germany introduced the minimum wage in 2015, and it has since been reviewed regularly to ensure it is in line with economic conditions. The country's robust social welfare system supports low-skilled workers, making it an attractive destination for those seeking better wages and working conditions.
Germany is recognized as a dominant member of the European Union, with strong technological and economic growth. Germany has made strides in the automotive industry by housing notable brands such as Volkswagen.