Minimum wage set to rise

new zealand money wages minimum
The increase is estimated to affect 119,500 workers (Getty)

The minimum wage is set to increase, pushing it close to the $16 per hour mark.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse says the rate will rise by 50c to $15.75 from April 1 this year.

The starting-out and training hourly minimum wage rates will also increase from $12.20 to $12.60 per hour, remaining at 80 percent of the adult minimum wage.

The Government estimates the change will affect 119,500 workers and will increase wages throughout the economy by $65 million a year.

Mr Woodhouse says the decision strikes "the right balance between protecting our lowest-paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost".

Unite union is pleased the Government is maintaining the minimum wage at 50 percent of the average wage, but says it needs to be more ambitious.

National director Mike Treen says a "meaningful increase" would be to bring the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage, or around $20.

"It isn't something that has to be done this week, but it should be a target of a government to address the issues of poverty and inequality that exist in society," he says.

The campaign for the Living Wage - which supporters say would give people enough for the basic necessities of life and to participate actively in society - is currently set at $19.80 an hour.

It is currently voluntary for companies to pay their employees this rate, but Mr Treen says that should also be where the Government should be aiming too.

"We have to be ambitious enough to make the minimum wage a living wage and our society would be better off for it."

In 2016, the Government also increased the minimum wage from $14.75 to $15.25.