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

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For more information on:

  • What types of work are eligible for the national minimum wage?
  • Time Work
  • Salaried-hours Work
  • Output Work
  • Unmeasured work
  • Is there anything else which employers should be aware of?
  • What counts are sufficient records?