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Minimum Wage In The UK: Explained

Minimum wage in the UK

The minimal hourly rate to which employees are legally entitled is known as the national minimum wage. This refers to all workers and employees, except for those who are completely self-employed and includes part-time, flexible, agency workers, people with zero-hour contracts, and people employed through apprenticeship programmes. From 16 years old and up, there are various charges for each age group. These prices are established by the government and are evaluated each year. Every year in April, the rates of the minimum wage in the UK are adjusted as recommended by the impartial Low Pay Commission.

No matter their size, employers are required by law to pay the National Minimum Wage. The government has released updated guidance on how to determine the minimum wage as well as information on how to make sure you are paying your employees at least that amount. In the UK, there’s a minimum wage that employers must pay their workers. This blog will explain what it is and how to check if you’re getting paid at least the national minimum wage in the UK.

The UK Minimum Wage System And Wage Rates

The minimum wage in the UK guarantees fair compensation for workers, serving as a foundation for calculating monthly labour salaries. Monthly earnings are influenced by the number of working hours, making it crucial to understand the different wage structures and their applicability based on age.

Types of UK Minimum Wages:

  1. National Living Wage (NLW): The NLW is applicable to individuals aged 23 and above, ensuring a decent hourly wage for experienced workers. It undergoes an annual increase in April or October, providing better financial security.
  2. National Minimum Wage (NMW): Workers below the age of 23 but above the school-leaving age fall under the NMW category. Like the NLW, NMW rates also experience annual adjustments to keep up with economic changes.

Importance of Compliance: UK employers are legally obligated to adhere to the minimum wage requirements set by the government. Failing to meet these obligations can lead to potential legal consequences, as it is considered a criminal offence. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is responsible for enforcing and imposing fines on non-compliant employers.

Distinction Between NLW and NMW: All employers in the UK must pay their workers the NLW if they are aged 25 and above. For individuals under the age of 25, employers are required to pay at least the NMW. It’s worth noting that the NLW is typically set around 50 pence higher per hour compared to the NMW.

What Is The Minimum Wage In The UK In 2023?

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) is an independent public body that advises the Government on the rates of the National Minimum Wage (NMW), including the National Living Wage (NLW). The National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage rates effective from 1 April 2023 are shown below.

Age GroupNMW RateAnnual Increase (£)Annual Increase (%)
National Living Wage£10.42£0.929.7%
21-22 Year Old Rate£10.18£1.0010.9%
18-20 Year Old Rate£7.49£0.669.7%
16-17 Year Old Rate£5.28£0.479.7%
Apprentice Rate£5.28£0.479.7%
Accommodation Offset£9.10£0.404.6%
Source: Gov.UK

Who Is Entitled To The UK Minimum Wage?

The amount one can earn in the United Kingdom depends on the types of work one is opting for, the UK working hours, and it will also vary with the age and years of experience of a person. The minimum wage in the UK is determined by the number of hours they spend working.

You’re entitled to be paid the national minimum salary in the UK if:

  • You’re an employee – this means you work for someone else and receive a regular wage or salary from them, rather than being self-employed (for example, as a freelancer or consultant).
  • Your employment is “commercial”—that is, it’s not domestic service in your own home or voluntary work for charity. The exception is where there’s a family relationship between you and your employer; in these circumstances, they don’t have to pay the minimum wage.

minimum wage in the uk

What Is The Minimum Wage In The UK For International Students?

The national minimum wage rates for international students in the UK are the same as those for the country’s residents. These rates apply to both part-time and full-time employees.

Age GroupNational Minimum Wage (NMW) Rate
18 to 20£6.56 per hour
21 to 22£8.36 per hour
23 and over£8.91 per hour


If an apprentice is under the age of 19 or has finished the first year of their apprenticeship, they are eligible to receive the apprentice rate of the applicable UK minimum wage per hour. They are eligible to earn the complete minimum wage in the UK for their age group if they are above 19, though.

Who is Eligible For The UK Minimum Wage?

To be eligible for the UK minimum wage, workers must meet the following requirements:

  1. Age Requirement
    All workers must be above the minimum school leaving age, which is 16 years or older in England.
  2. Full-time and Part-time Workers
    Both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to the minimum wage in the UK.
  3. Temporary Workers
    Temporary workers, including those engaged in fixed-term contracts or seasonal employment, are eligible for the minimum wage.
  4. Disabled Workers
    Workers with disabilities are entitled to receive the minimum wage, ensuring fair compensation and equal treatment in the workplace.
  5. Overseas Workers
    International workers employed in the UK are also covered by the minimum wage regulations, ensuring their right to fair pay.
  6. Agricultural Workers
    Workers employed in the agricultural sector, including farm labourers, are eligible for the minimum wage.
  7. Apprentices
    Apprentices are entitled to a separate apprentice rate specifically designed to provide fair compensation during their training period.
  8. Trainees or Workers on Probation
    Trainees or workers on probation, who are not yet fully qualified or experienced, are still eligible for the minimum wage.
  9. Offshore Workers
    Offshore workers engaged in industries such as oil and gas are covered by the minimum wage provisions.
  10. Casual Labourers and Homeworkers
    Casual labourers, as well as individuals paid based on the amount or number of items they produce (homeworkers), are eligible for the minimum wage.

Exceptions to UK Minimum Wage Eligibility: The minimum wage is not applicable to individuals engaged in self-employed work, voluntary workers, company directors, members of the armed forces, or those with work placements.

Calculating The Minimum Wage Pay

When determining an employee’s minimum wage, it is important to make sure they are compensated at least the legal minimum for all hours that qualify. This is true whether the worker is paid a monthly wage or by the hour.

Employers must tally up all hours that an employee is entitled to be paid for each payment period, divide that number by the total amount of compensation, and then determine if the employee is being paid at least the minimum wage. The employee’s pay must be raised if this sum is less than or larger than the necessary national minimum wage for that employee.

Penalties For Non-Compliance

The National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage in the UK are enforced by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). By sending out a notice of underpayment, they can enforce nonpayment. With a minimum penalty of £100 and a maximum penalty of £20,000, this will determine the arrears of pay that must be paid, as well as the penalty, which is set at 100% of the total underpayment of the national minimum pay in the UK. 

If you think your employer is not paying you at least the national minimum wage, you can contact the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to get help and advice on what action to take. You can also contact your local authority’s trading standards department. Your local authority may be able to act against your employer for not paying the minimum wage.


The minimum wage in the UK is a legal requirement that employers must pay employees who are over 18. It’s important to know your rights, as well as your employer’s responsibilities regarding paying you what you’re owed. Depending on their age and whether they are an apprentice or not, a working individual in the United Kingdom should get the UK minimum wage per hour. One can also call the ACAS helpline for discreet legal assistance in the event of any salary disparity.


1. How long is a working day in the UK?

The Working Time Regulations of 1998 govern working hours in the UK. These are restricted to an average of 48 hours per week and an average of 8 hours each working day. Additionally, they grant employees and workers the right to paid time off and designated rest periods.

2. How many days off do UK workers get?

Most workers who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days‘ paid annual leave a year. This is the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holiday.

3. What is a good salary UK?

The average UK wage in 2021 was £38,131 for a full-time position and £13,549 for a part-time position, according to the ONS. This is a modest decline from the average UK pay in 2020 when the full-time average salary was £38,552 and the part-time average was £13,819.

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Minimum wage in the UK

Minimum Wage In The UK: Explained