What is my entitlement to be paid the national minimum wage?

National minimum wage

What is the national minimum wage?

The national minimum wage is a legal right covering almost all workers in the United Kingdom to prevent unduly low pay and also to create a level playing field for employers.

What is the current rate of national minimum wage?

The current rate for the national minimum wage is as follows:

  • The main rate is for workers over the age of 22 and is currently set at £5.80 per hour

  • For workers aged between 18 and 21 the rate is currently set at £4.83 per hour

  • For workers who are above school leaving age but under 18 (i.e. workers aged 16 or 17) the rate is currently set at £3.57 per hour

Please note the above figures are correct as of March 2010.

What happens if a worker is not being paid the national minimum wage?

If a worker is not being paid the national minimum wage they can make contact with the authorities through the Pay and Work Rights helpline. All suspected cases of non-compliance with the national minimum wage will be investigated and workers who are not receiving the national minimum wage can claim it through an employment tribunal or through a civil court.

What happens if a worker is dismissed for asserting their right to be paid the national minimum wage?

If a worker is dismissed for asserting their right to be paid the national minimum wage they will be seen as being unfairly dismissed and will be able to take their case to an employment tribunal.

Who is entitled to receive the national minimum wage?

The vast majority of adult workers in the UK will be able to claim to be paid the national minimum wage unless they are genuinely self employed.

Please note that this right does not extend to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

What is meant by the term worker?

For the purpose of calculating entitled to the national minimum wage workers can include the following:

  • Full-time workers

  • Part-time workers

  • Casual labourers

  • Agency workers

  • Piece workers which can include homeowners

Do workers have to have a written contract to prove eligibility for the national minimum wage?

Workers are not required to have a written contract to be entitled to be paid the national minimum wage.

Are there any groups of workers who are not entitled to the national minimum wage?

Almost all legal workers in the UK are entitled to the national minimum wage; there are limited exceptions, however, which include the following:

  • People who are genuinely self employed

  • People who are voluntary workers

  • Apprentices under the age of 19 or if they are over the age of 19 are in their first year of an apprenticeship

  • Workers who are still of compulsory school age

  • Students on a work placement of less than one year that forms part of a further education or higher education course

  • Residential members of a charitable community, the purpose of which is to practice or promote a belief of a religious, or similar, nature

  • Those employed in a Job Centre Plus Work Trial – only for the first six weeks of the trial

  • Those taking part in government employment schemes

What types of work are eligible for the national minimum wage?

There are four types of work for national minimum wage purposes. They are as follows:

  1. Time work

  2. Salaried-hours work

  3. Output work

  4. Unmeasured work

Time Work

A time worker is paid according to set or varying hours or periods of time worked. For example a worker in a shop paid an hourly rate for a certain amount of hours worked in a week will be a time worker.

Salaried-hours Work

A salaried-hours worker is paid for a predetermined number of minimum hours a year and is contractually entitled to an annual salary for those hours paid in equal installments. For example a worker in a bank paid a yearly salary will be a salaried-hours worker.

Output Work

An output worker is paid according to each piece produced or task performed, but has no fixed hours of work. Output work can also be termed commission or piece work. An example of an output worker would be a builder working on a commission basis for a particular job.

Output workers are entitled to the national minimum wage for all hours worked and if they are rated output workers a fair piece rate.

Unmeasured work

An unmeasured worker is paid a set amount for a task or for working a certain length of time such as a week. An example of an unmeasured worker may be a building worker who is paid for a week’s work rather than on an hourly rate.

Employers can choose whether to pay an unmeasured worker for every hour worked or to enter into a daily average agreement that will state the realistic daily average number of hours to be worked. Special rules will apply if a daily average agreement is decided upon as the course of action.

Is there anything else which employers should be aware of?

All employers are required to keep sufficient records to show that they are complying with the national minimum wage requirements.

If an employer is found not to be keeping sufficient records they will be guilty of a criminal offence and will be fined accordingly.

What counts are sufficient records?

For many employers existing payroll and business records will be deemed sufficient and there will be no need to maintain separate records for national minimum wage records.

It is up to the individual employer to decide what will constitute sufficient records depending upon the nature of the business. Sufficient records may consist of the following:

  • All payments to workers

  • Payments for overtime and shifts

  • Absences

  • Contracts and agreements between employers and employees

  • Workers dates of birth