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National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum hourly rate most workers are entitled to.

Key points

  • Most workers over school leaving age will be entitled to receive the NMW.
  • The NMW rate is reviewed annually by the Low Pay Commission, and any rate changes are introduced in October each year.
  • There are a number of exemptions to those who receive the NMW. These do not relate to the size of the business, sector, job or region.
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can take employers to court for not paying the NMW.
  • The minimum rate depends on the age of worker.

Current NMW rates

  • £6.50 for workers 21 and over
  • £5.13 18 - 20 yrs
  • £3.79 for 16-17 yrs, who are above school leaving age but under 18
  • £2.73 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship.

New NMW rates from 1 October 2015

  • £6.70 for workers 21 and over
  • £5.30 18 - 20 yrs
  • £3.87 for 16-17 yrs, who are above school leaving age but under 18
  • £3.30 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship.

It is important to note that these rates, which come into force 1 October 2015, apply to pay reference periods beginning on or after that date.

Minimum wage calculator

Find out what you are entitled to receive using Helpline Online:

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Exemptions

There are a number of people who are not entitled to the NMW.

  • Self-employed people.
  • Volunteers or voluntary workers.
  • Family members, or people who live in the family home of the employer who undertake household tasks.
  • Company directors.

All other workers including pieceworkers, home workers, agency workers, commission workers, part-time workers and casual workers must receive at least the NMW.

Agricultural Wages

From the 1 October 2013, the Agricultural Wages (England and Wales) Order 2012 no longer applies in England. Agricultural and horticultural workers in England employed after that date must be paid the appropriate NMW rate (see above).

Workers who were already employed before 1 October 2013 will still be entitled to the same terms and conditions set under their contract of employment; this may include overtime rates, agricultural wages, sick pay or dog allowance. Defra will continue to enforce complaints made by workers in respect of underpayments or non-compliance with terms and conditions of an Agricultural Wages Order before 1 October 2013 for up to six years after the breach occurred.

For agricultural workers in Scotland there is no change, and in Wales workers must be paid at least the Agricultural Minimum Wage, or the NMW if that's higher.

Family member exemption

For this exemption to apply, workers must either be a member of the employer's family, or live in the employers' family home.

Either the worker is a member of the employer's family and:

  • resides in the family home of the employer
  • shares in the tasks and activities of the family.

Or the worker resides in the family home of the employer, and:

  • is not a member of that family, but is treated as such (in regards to the provision of living accommodation, meals and the sharing of tasks and leisure activities)
  • is neither liable to any deduction, nor to make any payment to the employer, or any other person, as respects the provision of the living accommodation or meals
  • if the work had been done by a member of the employer's family, it would not be treated as work.

Acas Helpline

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