The Low Pay Commission has been tasked by the government to provide greater clarity for businesses when it comes to any future National Minimum Wage (NMW) changes.

The government's remit for the Commission is to pay attention to youth employment, particularly those in apprenticeships, simplify current regulations and look at the best way to give businesses greater clarity on future levels of the NMW.

The Commission has until the end of February 2012 to compile a report for the prime minister and the business secretary.

The NMW was first introduced in 1999 at £3.60 per hour for adults and has increased every year since. In October it will rise to £6.08 for adults, while the rate for 18- to 20-year-olds will increase to £4.98 per hour. Those aged 16-17 will receive £3.68 per hour and apprentices will earn £2.60 per hour.

The new remit was welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), which said that uncertainty over rises were a huge burden to retailers.

"The uncertainty caused by annual unpredictable changes to the minimum wage are second only to the unsustainable increases themselves in causing disruption to retail businesses," said ACS chief executive James Lowman. "Most years businesses can only know for certain what the final cost of their wage bill will be half-way through the financial year.

"It makes medium and long-term planning incredibly difficult," Lowman added. "If the government were to announce that the National Minimum Wage was not to be increased above a certain amount over the next three years, retailers would at least be able to plan for it."

Lowman said it was time for a "root and branch rethink" of the minimum wage system.