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The national living wage & national minimum wage rates

National minimum wage

By law, all UK employers must pay their workers a minimum hourly rate. The hourly rate for the minimum wage depends on a worker's age and whether they're an apprentice.

Who is covered by the NMW?

NMW applies to all workers, with certain exceptions such as:

  • those under the age of 16
  • apprentices (applies to apprentices under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year)
  • those who are genuinely self-employed
  • family members working in the family business
  • people working and living as part of a family (such as au pairs)
  • voluntary workers.

Current rates

Age group  1 April 2021
 NLW (23+) £8.91
 NMW (21-22) £8.36
 NMW (18-20) £6.56
 NMW (16-17) £4.62
 NMW (apprentice) £4.30
 Accommodation Offset £8.36 (a day); £58.72 (a week)

HMRC routinely names and shames employers that have broken minimum wage rules. The errors made may in some cases be arithmetic or technical mistakes by employers who have intended to comply with the law.

Arrangements requiring employees to buy work uniform out of their wages, and Christmas saving schemes have been ruled as in breach of minimum wage. We can advise you about the more complicated requirements.

For that reason, we recommend that you look further at employer obligations which are set out in HMRC's guide to national minimum wage enforcement.

This includes:

  • Entitlement to the NMW and NLW
  • Powers of compliance officers
  • Notices of underpayment
  • Penalties
  • Minimum wage penalty percentages
  • Criminal offences.

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