The minimum wage is the lowest amount that a person’s employer can pay them for a certain amount of work. Governments usually base the minimum wage on one hour of work, but some countries calculate their minimum wages on daily, weekly, or monthly employment.
Overall, Australia has the highest minimum wage in the world at about 14.54 USD an hour. Yet, other countries that are close behind tend to be a part of the E.U. and have high average yearly incomes, like Luxembourg, Ireland, and France.
Which Countries Have the Highest Minimum Wage?
As of 2022, the following ten countries have the highest yearly minimum wage for full-time work (40 hours per week):
- Australia – $30,243 ($14.54/hour)
- Luxembourg – $28,433 ($13.67/hour)
- New Zealand – $27,414 ($13.18/hour)
- Monaco – $24,710 ($11.88/hour)
- Ireland – $24,003 ($11.54/hour)
- France – $23,837 ($11.46/hour)
- United Kingdom – $23,649 ($11.37/hour)
- Netherlands – $23,316 ($11.21/hour)
- Belgium – $23,004 ($11.06/hour)
- Germany – $22,214 ($10.68/hour)
(Amounts in parentheses are in United States Dollars or USD).
The minimum wage for one hour of work for most employees in Australia is 20.33 AUD, which equals about 14.54 USD to 14.60 USD. Thus, Australia has the highest minimum wage in the world.
The country’s Fair Work Commission reviews the National Minimum Wage once a year to make sure that it meets the Fair Work Act of 2009.
However, not everyone in Australia is entitled to the same minimum wage. For instance, apprentices, youth under 21 years old, and people with certain disabilities have different minimum wages.
Australia also has a Modern Awards system, where, for each type of work, employers must pay a certain amount and give certain benefits in line with Australian law.
Luxembourg’s minimum wage is a bit harder to measure than other countries because they have separate minimum wages for skilled and unskilled workers. The minimum wage also differs by age.
Overall, Luxembourg’s highest minimum wage rate is €13.67, or about 15.53 USD. This wage applies to skilled laborers over the age of 18. For the most part, Luxembourg considers a job to be skilled labor if the person has a professional certificate or degree in the field or if they have worked in the sector for ten years or more.
The country’s other set minimum wages are:
- Unskilled workers: €12.94 (14.70 USD)
- 17-18-year-olds: €10.36 (11.77 USD)
- 15-17-year-olds: €9.71 (11.03 USD)
The government reassesses the minimum wage every two years.
Related: Richest Countries in the World
3. New Zealand
New Zealand’s standard minimum wage is 20 NZD or about 13.18 USD to 13.56 USD. This rate applies to almost every worker in the country.
The main exemption to this rule is that certain employees who are training or just starting out in employment only get 16 NZD (10.85 USD). However, they soon move up to the standard wage after a short time at their job.
Other exemptions have to do with the laws outlined in the Minimum Wage Act of 1983. According to this law, the national minimum wage differs for those under 16 years old and most inmates.
Monaco’s current minimum wage is €10.15 or 11.53 USD to 11.88 USD. But, the vast majority of employees make more than this amount.
The median monthly income in the municipality is €4,410 a month (5010 USD), which works out to about €27.56 an hour (31.31 USD). Meanwhile, the top 25% of workers make more than €11,600 a month (13,180 USD), or €72.5 an hour (82.38 USD).
In Ireland, the standard minimum wage is €10.50 an hour or 11.54 USD to 11.93 USD. This rate applies to everyone 20 years old or older.
The minimum wages for younger people are:
- 19 years old: €9.45 (10.74 USD)
- 18 years old: €8.40 (9.54 USD)
- 17 years old and younger: €7.35 (8.35 USD)
Also, in Ireland, you can not agree for your employer to pay you less than the minimum wage unless that person is a close relative or you are part of a recognized apprenticeship.
In France, the minimum wage is €10.03 an hour or 11.40 USD to 11.46 USD. This rate applies to all working adults.
However, the minimum wage is lower if a person is under the age of 18. Employers can pay people 17 years old and younger 90% to 80% of the official minimum wage, depending on work experience. Meanwhile, apprenticeships can pay 25% to 78% less than the minimum wage.
Furthermore, all non-citizens who have a workers permit are entitled to the minimum wage, as in many other countries.
Related: Minimum Wage in Europe
7. United Kingdom
Overall, the standard minimum wage in the United Kingdom is £8.21 or 11.16 USD to 11.37 USD for anyone 25 years old or older. All employers in the U.K., regardless of sector, must pay at least the minimum wage.
The U.K.’s minimum wage, like many other countries, depends on the worker’s age. For those who are younger than 25 years old, the minimum hourly wage is as follows:
- 21 to 24-year-olds: £7.70 (10.47 USD)
- 18 to 20-year-olds: £6.15 (8.36 USD)
- Under 18 years old: £4.35 (5.91 USD)
- Apprentices: £3.90 (5.30 USD)
Yet, although £8.21 is the least amount of money that a person over 25 years old can get paid an hour, this amount is not actually called the minimum wage in the U.K. Instead, since 2016, employers must pay those 25 years and older the national living wage, which is 50 pence more than the national minimum wage, which applies to those 21-24 years old.
The government reviews the minimum wage every April.
Interestingly, unlike many other countries, the Netherlands’ minimum wage does not go by the hour but instead by day, week, and month and is based on a full working week. Full-time employees 21 years old and older must get at least €79.62 (90.47 USD) per day, €398.10 per week (452.33 USD), and €1,725.00 (1,969 USD) per month.
Thus, the minimum wage works out to about €9.81 (11.15 USD to 11.21 USD) an hour for an eight-hour workday.
For younger employees, the wages per day are as follows:
- 20 years old: €63.70 (72.38 USD)
- 19 years old: €47.77 (54.28 USD)
- 18 years old: €39.81 (45.23 USD)
- 17 years old: €31.45 (35.73 USD)
- 16 years old: €27.47 (31.21 USD)
- 15 years old: €23.89 (27.14 USD)
The government adjusts the minimum wage twice a year.
Belgium’s minimum wage also does not go by the hour but instead is monthly and based on a 38-hour working week.
Belgium’s monthly minimum wage is €1,593.80 or 1,810.89 USD for all workers, no matter age or skill level. So, the hourly minimum wage in the country is about €9.96 (11.06 USD to 11.31 USD).
However, many industries in Belgium come up with their own minimum wage, which is higher than the national minimum.
The only other exception to the minimum wage law is that those in apprenticeships can be paid by their employers as little as €751 (853 USD) a month.
The hourly minimum wage in Germany is €9.19 or 10.44 USD an hour. But, most people in Germany make more than this amount.
The average yearly salary in Germany is €42,500 (48,288 USD). So, for a 40 hour work week, the average person makes about €20.43 (23.21 USD), which is more than twice the minimum.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Countries Have the Lowest Minimum Wage?
The countries with the lowest minimum wages by yearly salary (in USD) are as follows:
Uganda – $95 ($0.05)
Sierra Leone – $211 ($0.10)
Kyrgyzstan – $251 ($0.12)
Georgia – $279 ($0.13)
Myanmar – $401 ($0.19)
Tajikistan – $477 ($0.23)
Uzbekistan – $490 ($0.24)
Malawi – $494 ($0.24)
Rwanda – $496 ($0.24)
Eritrea – $526 ($0.25)
(The amount in parenthesis is the hourly pay based on a 40-hour workweek).
Which U.S. States Have the Highest Minimum Wage?
The federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 an hour, but some states have increased the minimum wage that employers can legally pay an employee.
The states with the highest hourly minimum wages are as follows:
Washington DC – $15.90
California – $15.00
Washington – $14.49
Massachusetts – $14.25
Connecticut – $14.00
Oregon – $13.50
New York – $13.20
New Jersey – $13.00
Arizona – $12.80
Maine – $12.75
What Is the Minimum Wage in China?
The hourly minimum wage in China is 13.3 Yuan or 2.06 USD.