National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage...

The hourly rate for the minimum wages depends on your age and whether you’re an apprentice.

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to by law. The National Living Wage (NLW) is higher than the NMW – workers get it if they’re over 25. The government’s NLW was introduced in on 1 April 2016.

You must be at least:

  • School living age (usually 16) to get the minimum wage
  • Aged 25 to get the national living wage – the minimum wage will still apply for workers aged 24 and under
  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can take employers to court for not paying the NMW and NLW.

    Workers are entitled to the correct minimum wage if they’re:

    • part-time
    • casual labourers
    • agency workers
    • apprentices
    • disabled workers
    • agricultural workers
    • foreign workers
    • seafarers
    • offshore workers
    • trainees, works on probation

    workers and homeworkers paid by the number of items they make


    Apprentices are entitled to the apprentices rate if they are 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 correct minimum wage for their age.


      The following types of workers are not the NMW/NLW:

      • Self-employed people
      • Company directors
      • Volunteers or voluntary workers
      • Workers on a government employment programme
      • Members of the armed forces
      • Family members of the employer living in the employer’s home
      • Non-family members living in the employer’s home who share in the work and leisure activities
      • Workers younger than school leaving age (usually 16)
      • Higher and further education students on a work placement up to 1 year
      • Workers on government pre-apprenticeship schemes
      • People working on a Jobcentre Plus Work trial for 6 weeks
      • Share fishermen
      • Prisoners
      • People living and working in a religious community

      Work experience and internships

      You won’t get the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage if you’re:

      • a student doing work experience as a part of higher or further education course
      • a volunteer or doing voluntary work
      • on a government or European programme
      • work shadowing
      Year 25 and over 21 to 24 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentices
      Current Rate £7.20 £6.95 £5.55 £4.00 £3.40
      From April 2017 £7.50 £7.05 £5.60 £4.05 £3.50

      Penalties for failure to comply with the NMW/NLW rules

      If HMRC finds that an employer hasn’t paid at least the NMW, they can send a notice of arrears plus a penalty for not paying the correct rate of pay to the worker.

      The penalty for failing to comply with the NLW will be 200% of the amount owed, unless the arrears are paid within 14 days.

      The maximum fine for the non-payment of NLW will be £20,000 per worker. However, employers who fail to pay will be banned from being a company director for up to 15 years.

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