Before jetting out of your homeland to a foreign country for employment opportunities, one of the essential things you should know is the country’s minimum wage.
Ignorance of a country’s minimum wage could push you into accepting an underpaying job while still thinking that your employer is remunerating you fairly.
To protect the economic wellbeing of employees, minimum wage policies encourage job hunters not to accept jobs paying below the standard minimum wage.
As a Nigerian who is keen to migrate to a foreign country for employment, you may want to find out the countries with the highest minimum wages. This post, therefore, contains a well-crafted list of the top 10 countries with the highest minimum wages in the world. But before that, here is what you should know about The Concept of Minimum Wage
Minimum wage is defined as the lowest amount of money permitted, under law, to be paid by employers to their employees over a specified work period. While a country’s minimum wage is most commonly calculated hourly, it is often provided in the labour laws of countries that employers must not keep their employees’ minimum wages below the standards set by governments.
The definition of minimum wage, as the least payable amount by an employer to an employee for a given work period, is in line with that of the International Labour Organization (ILO). However, it is not in all countries of the world that all employers stick to government-stipulated minimum wages.
Particularly in underdeveloped and many developing countries, lots of employers fail to comply with government-stipulated minimum wages. Notably, studies have shown that countries with inadequate job opportunities as well as inadequate concentration of industries find it difficult to comply with ILO’s minimum wage standard.
In advanced countries, minimum wage laws are duly respected by employers. Such laws, as stipulated in the labour laws of the countries, oblige all employers not to pay their employees below the set minimum wage. Depending on industry, employee age and experience, some employers may decide to pay fairly above the standard minimum wage. This is permissible under labour laws and is widely practised by employers in countries with flourishing economies.
The Reason for Setting Minimum Wage Laws
The main reason behind the stipulation of minimum wages is to protect the interest of employees, particularly where such employees are skilled and can significantly contribute to the development of their employers’ businesses. In the absence of minimum wage laws, employers might decide to remunerate their employees very poorly in return for the latter’s expertise or effort. In poorly developed countries, for instance, the incidence of exploitative remuneration is so rampant that many workers have been rendered extremely poor. This is because many employers in such countries do not abide by the ILO-approved standard for employee remuneration.
Criteria for Determining Minimum Wage
Of course, minimum wages are not set arbitrarily. They are, in fact, determined based on criteria which may differ among countries. In general, some of the factors commonly considered include employee age, expertise and duration.
Even as most countries commonly set their minimum wages on an hourly basis, the minimum wage may be calculated monthly, weekly, daily and even yearly.
Beyond knowing the criteria for determining minimum wages, one thing you should know is that the minimum wage is the total hourly/weekly/monthly/yearly income of an employee prior to deductions such as taxes and other underlying charges.
Top 10 Countries with the Highest Minimum Wages in the World
The Australian Federal Government, through the Fair Work Commission, stipulates the hourly minimum wage as $15.96 which eventually becomes $9.54 after taxation. It’s noteworthy that the stated hourly minimum wage is specifically for Australian workers who are age 21 or above. Also, such workers must not have opted to work under the circumstance of an “award” or “agreement” system.
Australian workers under age 16 earn around $6.73 in hourly minimum wage. Even as the hourly minimum wage is pegged at $15.96, an Australian worker may want to have a different hourly minimum wage by choosing the award system.
Under the “award” system, the hourly minimum wage varies considerably depending on a worker’s age, location and the industry where they work. The “award” system is widely adopted in Australia with majority of Australian workers working under the basis of the system.
Luxembourg is a flourishing west-European country and it’s the second leading country in terms of highest minimum wage. In Luxembourg, the hourly minimum wage for unskilled workers who are age 18 or above is estimated around €11.6. However, this wage increases by 20% in the case of skilled workers.
Based on reliable statistics, Luxembourg maintains a thriving economy which rides on the strength of its flourishing industries including telecommunications, real estate, engineering and tourism, among others. Most importantly, Luxembourg is the country with the highest GDP per capita in the world. While this lends credence to Luxembourg’s flourishing economy, it is most notable that the west-European country is one of the world’s richest countries.
As stipulated by the government of Belgium, the hourly minimum wage in Belgium is estimated around $10.40. The said wage translates into the monthly income of $1,673. However, the average remuneration for workers above age 22 is a bit greater than the country’s standard minimum wage.
Coupled with the fact that the cost of living in Belgium is comparatively moderate, the high average minimum wage of $10.40 could stimulate some Nigerians to travel to Belgium for work.
In accordance with the Belgian labour laws, it is mandatory for employers not to pay below the stipulated minimum wage.
The hourly minimum wage in Ireland is estimated around $9.60. Ireland’s minimum wage is considerably high even as the country’s economy is considered small in the European Union.
Notably, the Irish labour laws stipulate 70% of the standard minimum wage for employees below age 18. While Ireland’s labour laws are similar to the UK’s in certain respects, the hourly minimum wage for under-18 Irish workers stands at €9.55 (inclusive of underlying minimal charges).
In France, the average minimum wage per hour stands at €9.88, making France the country with the fifth highest minimum wage in the world.
With France’s hourly minimum wage pegged at €9.88, the average French employee therefore earns €1,498.47 monthly.
The Netherlands is one of the promising European countries for Nigerians who are eager to explore Europe for greener pastures. Some of the amenities the European country prides on are tremendous infrastructure, universal basic healthcare and a laudable public education system.
On the ladder of countries with the world’s highest minimum wages, the Netherlands sits in the sixth position with an hourly minimum wage of $5.78. Therefore, the annual minimum wage of the average employee in the Netherlands amounts to $50,670.
In New Zealand, the taxation system and the cost of living are relatively affordable. Particularly, the country’s labour laws stipulate an hourly minimum wage of $10.10. The said minimum wage is reasonable considering that the taxation system in New Zealand is fair.
Nigerians keen to relocate to New Zealand for employment opportunities would also like to know that the European country is ranked among the world’s leading destinations for professional migrants.
Employers in New Zealand are bound by the country’s labour laws to adhere to the stipulated minimum wage or maintain a higher wage.
Germany’s hourly minimum wage is estimated around $10.90. With Germany being the powerhouse of the EU’s economy, it’s well presumable that the country’s minimum wage is adequate for the average employed citizen to live reasonably.
Moreover, the German government provides its citizens with free access to several amenities/benefits that they would have ordinarily paid for.
The United Kingdom maintains a complex minimum wage structure. By reason of that, the hourly minimum wage in the UK varies across age brackets. Workers who are 25 or above earn $9.86 as hourly minimum wage while the hourly minimum wage for those in the age bracket of 21-24 years stands at $8.80. While the hourly minimum wage for 18-20 year-old employees stands at $6.99, the UK minimum wage per hour for under-18 employees is estimated around $5.05.
However, the hourly minimum wage for employees –age 19 or above –in their preliminary year of service is estimated around $4.37. Also, the same per-hour minimum wage applies to apprentices in the age bracket of 16-18 years.
Canada is a North American country vastly visited by migrants for both professional and study purposes. The minimum wage structure of Canada is not completely fixed as the hourly minimum wage is determined by Canadian provinces and can range between C$10.85 and C$14.
Importantly, every Canadian employer is bound by labour laws to comply with the standard minimum wage stipulated by their province.
Besides being endowed with a vast amount of natural resources, Canada is one of the world’s best destinations for foreigners to further their academic studies.
Observably, most of the listed countries are located in Europe. What this indicates is that Europe could be your best bet if you’re a Nigerian migrating for employment purpose.