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National Minimum Wage

What’s the National Minimum Wage?

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The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour most workers in the UK are entitled to by law.

The rate varies depending on your age and whether you’re an apprentice.

Most workers who are 23 or older must be paid at least the National Living Wage. This is the highest rate of the National Minimum Wage.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage Rates for 2021/22

Age
Minimum hourly rate 2021/22

23 and over

£8.91

21 to 22

£8.36

18 to 20

£6.56

16 to 17

£4.62

Apprentice

£4.30

Apprentices and the National Minimum Wage

Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate of the National Minimum Wage if they’re either:

  • under 19
  • 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Apprentices over 19 who have completed the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.

Am I entitled to the National Minimum Wage?

Almost all workers are entitled to the National Minimum Wage, including:

  • casual workers
  • part-time workers
  • temporary workers.

But if you’re self-employed or a company director, you’re not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

There are also some other types of workers who don’t qualify.

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You must be at least school-leaving age to get the National Minimum Wage. School-leaving age is the last Friday in June of the school year in which you turn 16.

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How the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage are calculated

Deductions from your pay before National Minimum Wage is calculated

Have you paid for certain things related to your job out of your wages? Then your employer should deduct these payments before they calculate whether you’ve been paid the correct minimum wage.

These payments are for:

  • the employer’s own use or benefit – for example, if you’ve paid for travel between work sites
  • things you need for the job but aren’t refunded for – such as tools, uniform or equipment.

All other payments made out of your wages, such as tax and National Insurance, should be included when your employer calculates whether you‘ve been paid the National Minimum Wage.

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Minimum wage for different types of work – and what counts as working time

The National Minimum Wage is worked out as an hourly rate. But it applies even if you’re not paid by the hour.

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Accommodation and the National Minimum Wage

Does your employer provide accommodation? Then they can take the value of this into account when calculating the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

No other company benefit – such as childcare vouchers, meals, or a car – counts towards the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

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What doesn’t count towards the National Minimum Wage

You might be paid at a higher rate than your standard pay rate for some of the work you do. For example, for working:

  • overtime, weekend or night shifts
  • on bank holidays
  • longer than a certain number of hours.

If you are, the ‘premium element of pay’ doesn’t count towards your minimum wage pay. Premium element of pay is the amount the higher pay rate exceeds your basic rate.

Your employer also can’t count the following towards your minimum wage pay:

  • tips or gratuities
  • service charges
  • cover charges from customers.

However, your employer can include incentive payments or bonuses as part of your basic pay.

What to do if you think you’ve been paid less than the correct minimum wage

If you think you’ve been paid less than the correct minimum wage for your age, talk to your employer.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, you can ask to see your payment records and make copies of them.

Or, for free, confidential advice to help you solve your payment dispute, you can contact one of these workplace advice services:

You can also make a complaint to HMRC about your employer.

If HMRC finds that you’ve been paid incorrectly, your employer must pay you any amounts they owe you and pay a fine to HMRC for paying below the minimum wage.

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What is the Living Wage?

The Living Wage is set by the Living Wage Foundation. There is a UK rate and a London rate.

The UK Living Wage is £9.50 an hour, and the London Living Wage is £10.85 an hour for 2021/22.

The Living Wage is based on the cost of living.

The Resolution Foundation is a think tank that aims to improve the living standards of low and middle-income families. They calculate the rates, which is overseen by the Living Wage Foundation.

The Living Wage Foundation is a UK organisation that campaigns for employers to pay the Living Wage.

Employers don’t have to pay the Living Wage, but over 3,600 employers choose to.

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What’s the difference between the National Living Wage and the Living Wage?

The National Living Wage:

  • is the highest rate of the National Minimum wage (currently £8.91 an hour)
  • is set by government
  • Must be paid to all workers over the age of 23.

The Living Wage:

  • is set by the Living Wage Foundation
  • applies to all workers over the age of 18
  • is voluntary – employers can choose whether to pay it
  • Has two rates – a UK rate (£9.50 an hour), and a London rate (£10.85 an hour).
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Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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