What is the minimum wage in the UK?

What is the minimum wage in the UK

Not sure about current minimum wage rates?

To ensure you are paid exactly what you’re entitled to, it’s always important to keep up-to-date with any changes around salaries.

Our guide details everything you need to know about the minimum wage. 

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What is the minimum wage?

The National Minimum Wage is the minimum payment (per hour) you’re entitled to earn. It’s set by the government and all employers, regardless of size or industry, are legally required to provide its workers with the agreed amount. If they don’t, it’s considered a criminal offence.


What’s the minimum wage per hour?

The most important thing to remember is how much you can earn.

The amount you are entitled to will vary depending on your age, and whether you are working as an apprentice.

The current minimum wage per hour for workers is as follows:

  • For those aged 23 and over, the hourly rate is £9.50 (now known as the National Living Wage)
  • For those aged between 21 and 22, the hourly rate is £9.18
  • For those aged between 18 and 20, the hourly rate is £6.83
  • For those aged under 18, the hourly rate is £4.81
  • For apprentices aged between 16 and 18 (or those aged over nineteen, who are in their first year), the hourly rate will be £4.81

However, it’s important to remember that these figures are intended for guideline purposes only. The actual amount will change every year (usually around April/October time), so it’s always worth keeping up-to-date to ensure you don’t get underpaid.


Is the minimum wage available to everyone?

In order to qualify for the minimum wage, all workers must be of school leaving age or over.

Those who are also entitled to the minimum wage include:

  • Part-time workers
  • Temporary workers
  • Disabled workers
  • Agricultural workers
  • Workers from overseas
  • Apprentices (who receive a slightly separate apprentice rate)
  • Casual labourers
  • Workers / homeworkers who are paid by the number of items they make 
  • Trainee / workers on probation 
  • Offshore workers
  • Seafarers 

However, the minimum wage is not available for anyone working in a self-employed capacity, company directors, voluntary workers, members of the armed forces or those on work placements.

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What doesn’t count towards the minimum wage? 

For certain types of work you may receive higher rates of pay than the minimum wage. These include: 

  • Overtime, weekend or night shifts 
  • Working on a bank holiday
  • Working longer than agreed hours 
  • Tips or gratuities or service charges you receive


Minimum wage and accommodation 

If your employer provides you with accommodation, they can take the cost of this into account when calculating the minimum wage. Other company employee benefits like childcare vouchers, meals or a car allowance can’t be counted when calculating the minimum wage. 

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How do I check what minimum wage I’m entitled to?

If you’re still not sure exactly what minimum wage you should speak to your employer’s HR department, your union (if you’re a member of one) or look on the government website. These sources will be able to confirm if you’re receiving the correct minimum wage per hour. 


What can I do if I’m not paid the correct minimum wage? 

If you think you haven’t been paid the correct minimum wage, it’s most likely a simple mistake that can be easily rectified by raising it with your employer. This also stands if you are no longer employed by the company. 

It will help your case by proving that you have received the incorrect minimum wage. A calculation of the minimum wage you’re entitled to that’s obtained from a reputable source, like the government website or a copy of a payslip or your contract, will help to strengthen your point. 

If your employer (or ex-employer) isn’t able to or willing to resolve the problem, you can make a formal complaint with them, also known as raising a grievance. You may also be to make a claim at an employment tribunal or report the company to HMRC. 

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National Living Wage explained 

In 2016, for those aged 23 and over, the National Minimum Wage was replaced with the National Living Wage. Employers are legally obliged to pay any workers 23 years and above the living wage. It’s a criminal offence if they don’t. 

Those entitled to the living wage include part-time workers, temporary workers, disabled workers, foreign workers and agriculture workers. If you’re unsure if you should be receiving the minimum wage or the living wage, speak to your employer’s HR department. 

Similar to the National Minimum Wage, the National Living Wage increases every year, usually in April or October. 



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