The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to by law. It doesn’t matter how small an employer is, they still have to pay the minimum wage.
Who is entitled to the minimum wage?
Workers must be school leaving age (last Friday in June of the school year they turn 16) or over to get the minimum wage. Contracts for payments below the minimum wage are not legally binding. The worker is still entitled to the minimum wage.
Workers are also entitled to the minimum wage if they are:
- casual labourers, e.g. someone hired for 1 day
- agency workers
- workers and home workers paid by the number of items they make
- trainees, workers on probation
- disabled workers
- agricultural workers
- foreign workers
- offshore workers
Apprentices under 19 or in the first year of a level 2 or 3 apprenticeship get an apprentice rate. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.
Not entitled to the minimum wage
The following types of workers aren’t entitled to the minimum wage:
- self-employed people running their own business
- company directors
- volunteers or voluntary workers
- workers on a government employment programme, e.g. the Work Programme
- family members of the employer living in the employer’s home
- non-family members living in the employer’s home who share in the work and leisure activities, are treated as one of the family and aren’t charged for meals or accommodation (e.g. au pairs)
- workers younger than school leaving age (usually 16)
- higher and further education students on a work placement up to 1 year
- workers on government pre-apprenticeships schemes
- people on the following European Union programmes: Leonardo da Vinci, Youth in Action, Erasmus, Comenius
- people working on a Jobcentre Plus Work trial for 6 weeks
- members of the armed forces
- share fishermen
- people living and working in a religious community
You won’t get minimum wage if you’re:
- a student doing work experience as part of a higher or further education course
- of compulsory school age
- a volunteer or doing voluntary work
- on a government or European programme
- work shadowing
Employers should note that HMRC have powers to enforce payment of the NMW in situations where workers have been underpaid.