What is the National Minimum Wage?

The national minimum wage is the minimum legal amount an employer should pay an employee.

If you are a worker under PAYE the national minimum wage is there to ensure that you are paid no less than the NMW up to the age of 20.

From the age of 21 the national living wage applies and replaces the minimum wage.

It’s the government that sets the national minimum rates and they are often increased at the start of each new tax year.

There are different NMW rates which are based on age and if you are employed as an apprentice.

Who gets the National Minimum Wage?

The minimum wage is specifically for employed workers of school leaving age up to the age of 20.

From the age of 21 the national minimum wage stops and is replaced with the national living wage which is used instead from the age of 21 onwards.

Factors like frequency of pay, number of work hours or the size of your employer do not effect your eligibility for the NMW.

What are the NMW Rates?

National minimum wage rates increase at the same time as the start of a new tax year. At this point employers automatically start using the new tax year NMW rates where applicable.

From April 2024 to April 2025 the NMW rates are:

AGE                                                                                                      NMW Rate

Under 18                                                                                             £6.40

18 to 20                                                                                               £8.60

21 and over (NLW)                                                                            £11.44

National Minimum Wage and Apprentices

Apprentices are given a separate minimum wage rate of £6.40. As an apprentice you are entitled to the apprentice rate if:

  • You are aged 19 or under.
  • You are in the first year of your apprenticeship and are aged 19 or over.

If you are an apprentice who is aged 19 or over and already completed the first year of your apprenticeship you are entitled to the NMW rate for your age.

This means you receive the same minimum wage rate as any other worker in your age group.

National Minimum Wage Calculator

The national minimum wage calculator allows you to check if you are getting paid the national minimum and living wage.

It let’s you calculate if you are owed more from your employer due to an underpayment of the NMW.

If you don’t think you have been paid enough by your employer it’s a good idea to check so you can organise a correction as soon as possible.

Who doesn’t qualify for the NMW?

Not all workers are entitled to the national minimum wage with the following being some of the most common:

  • Workers under the school leaving age which is normally 16.
  • Company directors.
  • Self employed.
  • Employees of the armed forces.
  • Further or higher education students on work placement up to one year.
  • Volunteers or voluntary workers.

What is the National Living Wage?

The national living wage is paid from the age of 21 and automatically replaces the national minimum after the age of 20.

It’s worth £11.44 per hour from April 2024 up to April 2025 at which point the NLW rate will probably be increased.

The living wage is for all workers from the age of 21 onwards and only has one rate band which is normally increased at the start of each tax year.

I’m being paid less than the National Minimum Wage what should I do?

HMRC should be told if you are not being paid the correct minimum wage rate. This should be done after you have tried to fix the issue with your employer and submitted online through the pay and work rights complaint process.

If you can’t resolve a NMW dispute with your employer you can contact ACAS for free support and advice.

ACAS or the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service are an independent public body who gives help and advice to workers and employers on workplace rights.

The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service can also give you information about employment issues like discipline, grievance, employment rights and equality.

ACAS helpline:

Telephone: 0300 123 1100
Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm

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