Increases to the national minimum wage apply from today, which will see the wage increase by 12p an hour to £6.31.
The rise comes following a recommendation by the independent Low Pay Commission (LPC).
The rate for 18-20- year olds will go up by 5p an hour to £5.03 an hour, while for 16 and 17-year olds, the rate goes up by 4p to £3.72 an hour.
Unions have called for a bigger rise and for the government to come down hard on organisations that pay below the minimum wage.
TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: “Years of below-inflation rises mean that the UK's lowest-paid workers are now facing an historic living standards crisis.
“As the recovery takes hold we will need to see far bigger increases to the minimum wage to ensure that ordinary people and not just the super rich benefit from economic growth.
The Resolution Foundation, a think tank, said that in reality the minimum wage is actually falling because of the rate of inflation.
Inflation is currently at 2.7 per cent, almost three times the rate of average annual pay rises, at 1.0 per cent.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said the LPC “recommend a rate that supports people on low pay without damaging their chances of getting a job.”
However, he said the government has now asked the LPC to “look at what economic conditions would be needed to allow the National Minimum Wage to rise in the future by more than current conditions allow.”
In recent years, campaigners have begun to call for the introduction of a “living wage”, especially in London.
The Living Wage Foundation says this should be set at £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 an hour across the rest of the UK.
Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: "We believe that a voluntary living wage, working alongside a strong national minimum wage, is the most effective way of getting to grips with the low-wage economy."
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