Move hailed by unions
Asda is to pay its under-18 workers the same hourly rate as adult staff after the company reviewed its pay structures following the introduction of new age discrimination laws last Sunday.

Employees aged between 16 and 18 will see have hourly rates increased by 52p from£5.19 to£5.71. The pay rise will affect approximately 5,000 Asda staff and it is estimated that it will cost the retailer about£1.7 million.

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 outlaw many aspects of age discrimination, but have stoked controversy because it remains legal to pay workers aged under 21 less than their adult counterparts under the national minimum wage.

Unions applauded the announcement with Jude Brimble, national officer for GMB members at Asda, saying: 'This is a very important breakthrough at Asda for younger workers.'

A spokesman at Sainsbury's said that the supermarket was looking at whether to follow suit, 'but we haven't done anything yet'. Morrisons and Tesco were unavailable for comment on what response they might make to the Asda pay hike.

The national minimum wage was raised on Sunday to£5.35 for adults and to£4.45 for workers aged between 16 and 18.