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Monday, 26 September 2011

The National Minimum Wage rates

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. Find out what the current rates are and where to get help if you think you are being paid below the minimum wage rate.

Current NMW rates

There are different levels of NMW, depending on your age and whether you are an apprentice. The current rates are:

  • £5.93 - the main rate for workers aged 21 and over 
  • £4.92 - the 18-20 rate
  • £3.64 - the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18
  • £2.50 - the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

The age at which you become entitled to the main rate was reduced from 22 to 21 on 1 October 2010.  The apprentice rate was introduced on the same date.

If you are of compulsory school age you are not entitled to the NMW. Some of your other employment rights are also different.

Rates from 1 October 2011

The NMW rates are reviewed each year by the Low Pay Commission and from 1 October 2011:

  • the main rate for workers aged 21 and over will increase to £6.08
  • the 18-20 rate will increase to £4.98
  • the 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 will increase to £3.68 
  • the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship will increase to £2.60

Past NMW rates can be viewed on the Low Pay Commission website.

Entitlement to the NMW

Pay and Work Rights Helpline

For confidential help and advice on the NMW call 0800 917 2368

Most workers in the UK over school leaving age are legally entitled to be paid at least the NMW and all employers have to pay it to you if you are entitled to it. It makes no difference:

  • if you are paid weekly or monthly, by cheque, in cash or in another way
  • if you work full time, part time or any other working pattern
  • if you work at your employer’s own premises or elsewhere
  • what size your employer is
  • where you work in the UK

You are entitled to the NMW even if you sign a contract agreeing to be paid at a lower rate. This is regardless of whether you sign of your own free will or because your employer persuades or makes you. The contract will have no legal effect and you must still be paid the proper rate.

If you are not sure if you should be paid at least the NMW read the 'Workers entitled to the National Minimum Wage' and 'Who is not entitled to the National Minimum Wage' pages.

Where to get help

The Pay and Work Rights Helpline gives confidential help and advice on the NMW and can handle calls in over 100 languages. If you aren’t being paid the NMW you can contact the Pay and Work Rights helpline or use the online enquiry or complaint form.

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