The Right to a Minimum Wage

Site updated on February 17, 2020

The Right to a Minimum Wage and Living Wage from 2017

In 1998, the National Minimum Wage Act came into force. The Act applies to all workers, a wider definition than employees and therefore provides coverage for agency workers, home workers and casual workers in fact most people who are not self-employed.

  • National Minimum Wage rates used to change every October. Since 2017 they have been reviewed at the same time as the National Living Wage rates – which change every April.
  • There is an adult rate where you are aged 21 or over
  • Workers aged 18 to 20 are entitled to a lower rate. 
  • The National Minimum Wage also applies to workers aged 16/17, at an entry level hourly rate.
  • You must be over school leaving age to get the minimum wage.

The Living Wage is a separate, voluntary rate set by the Living Wage Foundation: currently recommended as £9.30 (£10.75 in London) if you are aged over 18 – NOTE; as this is voluntary there is no requirement for your Employer to pay this rate.

Current rates 2019/2020

These rates are for the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage. The rates change every April.

Year 25 and over 21 to 24 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice
April 2019 (current rate) £8.21 £7.70 £6.15 £4.35 £3.90
April 2020 £8.72 £8.20 £6.45 £4.55 £4.15


Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either:

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

Example    An apprentice aged 22 in the first year of their apprenticeship is entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £3.90.

  • For workers aged 21 and over, there is a trainee rate that might apply. This can apply for up to 6 months subject to compliance with certain conditions.
  • Apprenticeships are also covered but there is a different hourly rate for this.  Check your Apprenticeship contract to see if there is reference to pay rates. The rate above applies if you are aged under 19, or you are older but in the first year of your apprenticeship.
  • The minimum wage applies to gross earnings and is calculated before tax, National Insurance and other statutory deductions.
  • If you are “on call”, even if at home, this could qualify for the Minimum wage for each hour, if you have to stay available for work at all times.
  • A night worker qualified for the Minimum Wage for all hours  worked on a night shift even though he was allowed to sleep for long periods! This is because he was at his normal place of work, could not leave, and had to respond to any alarms that went off. This is all working time – check with us first to see if you qualify.
  • Your employer is entitled to take into consideration any accommodation they provide for you. This amount is restricted by the regulations.There is a limit on the amount that an employer providing accommodation can count towards your minimum wage pay. The accommodation offset is calculated at a daily rate for each day that your employer makes the accommodation available.
  • No deduction should be made on top of this for any meals provided by your employer or for things like electricity or gas.
  • People working and living as part of a family, for example an au pair are exempt from the minimum wage rules.
  • You are entitled to the Minimum Wage if you work from home and you are paid piece work for the items you produce. See the information on Homeworkers in the “Your Other Rights” section of this site.
  • Employers must keep records of pay and hours worked for all workers for at least three years.
  • You can complain to a Tribunal if you are not satisfied by an employer’s explanation of your rate of pay.
  • Tips paid in cash to you by a customer should not be included in calculating your wage. Tips paid on credit cards to your Employer may be included in your wage, but talk to your Employer or look at your contract to see if this is clear.
  • Since 2003, you can claim the Minimum Wage from a previous employer! If you find out that you were not getting the minimum wage from a previous employer contact our advice line.

You can also contact your local Inland Revenue office as it is their role to enforce the Minimum Wage.

Note: Trainees on some Government Funded Schemes; students on work placements; armed forces; prisoners and voluntary workers are all excluded from the minimum wage entitlement.

If you feel that your employer is not paying you the minimum wage, you can ask your employer for a copy of your pay records. Your employer has 14 days to produce your records for you. You can apply to Tribunal if you have not been receiving the minimum wage. You can get back pay and the Employer might be fined.

You can call us!!


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