Younger workers on the minimum wage will receive a pay rise worth up to £450 a year from today.
The national minimum wage increases by 25p an hour to £6.95 for workers aged 21 to 24 and by the same amount to £5.55 for 18 to 20-year-olds.
The rate for 16 and 17-year-olds rises by 13p to £4 while for apprentices under 19 it goes up by 10p to £3.40.
The Government said it was the highest rate ever in real terms, but the TUC called for all workers to receive the national living wage of £7.20 an hour, which only applies to workers over 25.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "The Government promised to create an economy that works for all and today's increase means our lowest paid workers will benefit from their largest pay rise since the recession.
"This will make a real difference to hard-working people up and down the country and means for the vast majority of workers, the national minimum wage is at its highest level in real terms."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Today's increase will be welcome news for young workers, but there is no justification for paying people in their early 20s 25p an hour less than other adults.
"Their employment rate is rising and they work just as hard as older workers, yet are entitled to less at the end of the week.
"These young workers are getting a raw deal - it's time for the Government to bump them up to the full minimum wage."
Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry, said: "Small businesses are reacting to difficult economic conditions with characteristic resilience, but they will need more help if increases to the minimum wage are to be a success and not affect employment levels or investment decisions.
"We call on ministers to consider a significant uprating of the Employment Allowance from its current £3,000 level.
"This has already helped to boost pay levels and incentivise job creation, and could be the lifeline many smaller firms need due to fast-rising labour costs."