A Plain English Guide To British Employment Law

National Minimum Wage

What is the National Minimum Wage?

There are different levels of National Minimum Wage (NMW), depending on your age and whether you are an apprentice. The National Living Wage (NLW) applies to anyone 25 and over. The current rates of NMW and NLW are:

  • £7.83 – workers aged 25 and over
  • £7.38 – workers aged 21 – 24
  • £5.90 – the 18-20 rate
  • £4.20 – the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18
  • £3.70 – the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 – or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

Note that the mandatory national living wage is distinct from the living wage set by the Living Wage Foundation which is “an independent calculation that reflects the real cost of living” and which currently stands at £8.75 (and £10.20 in London).

The minimum wage rates change every April.

Am I entitled to the National Minimum Wage?

All workers and employees in the UK are entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. You are entitled to the NMW or NLW if:

  • you have a contract of employment;
  • you have a contract to perform work or provide services personally for your employer; and
  • you are not self-employed under the contract.

The contract does not have to be in writing, it can be oral or implied. Being registered as self-employed for tax purposes does not necessarily make you self-employed for National Minimum Wage purposes.

If you are of compulsory school age you are not entitled to the NMW.