NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE UK: Even though the NMW rates 2022/23 relate to the Living Wage, the entitlements are not the same.
Employers must pay the current National Minimum Wage to avoid getting a penalty. Find out exactly who gets the minimum wage or the living wage.
This guide also explains how to deal with disputes at work over National Minimum Wage procedures and payments.
In simple terms, the least amount of hourly wage that workers should get depends on two overriding factors. That being their age, and whether they are working as an apprentice.
In the United Kingdom, it is irrelevant how many workers an employer employs. They must still pay the correct salary wage to all their workforce.
Definition of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and the National Living Wage (NLW)
The NMW is the absolute least amount of pay per hour that the vast majority of workers have entitlement to. Whereas, workers over 23 years of age get the National Living Wage. The NLW is significantly higher than the National Minimum Wage in the UK.
UK National Minimum Wage Calculator
What is the UK National Minimum Wage calculator? It is a facility allowing employees to check they are receiving the correct amount from their employers.
The wage checker allows workers to verify that the correct National Minimum Wage, or the National Living Wage, is paid to them. You may also check if your employer owes you any back payments from previous years.
Wage Checker for Workers
If you are an employee you can check whether you:
- You are receiving the National Minimum Wage 2022.
- You are getting the National Living Wage payments.
- Your employer owes you past payments from previous years or past jobs.
Wage Checker for Employers
An employer can verify whether they:
- Are paying the correct minimum wage to their workforce.
- Owe a worker payments from past jobs and previous years.
Note: There is further guidance to help you work out the minimum wage for different types of work that you may be performing. You can contact the ACAS helpline or visit the ACAS Helpline Online. That will help you find out whether you should be getting the minimum wage. There is also further advice about the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage.
Who Receives the Minimum Wage?
What is the National Minimum Wage for a 16 year old worker in the UK? Workers who expect to get the National Minimum Wage must be at least school leaving age. This is further clarified as being the last Friday in June of the school year in which they turn 16 years old.
National Minimum Wage for 23 Year Old
As a rule, you must be 23 years or older to be eligible for the National Living Wage. Contracts for payments below the minimum wage are not legally binding.
Having worker status means you still have entitlement to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, whichever is relevant. The correct minimum wage is a legal entitlement for workers who are:
- Working part-time or casual labourers (e.g. hired for a day)
- Agency workers, trainees, or workers on probation
- Disabled workers
- Agricultural workers, seafarers, or offshore workers
- Foreign workers
- Workers or homeworkers paid by the number of items they produce
Apprentices: National Minimum Wage for a 19 Year Old
Apprentices should get the minimum apprentice rate if they are under 19 years old. The same rule applies for those older than 19 and in the first year of their apprenticeship.
If you are over 19 and complete the first year of your apprenticeship, you are then entitled to the correct and current NMW for your age.
Not Entitled to the Minimum Wage
Types of workers who are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage include:
- Self-employed workers running their own business or members of the armed forces.
- Company directors or workers on a government employment programme (e.g. the Work Programme).
- Volunteers or voluntary workers.
- 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, get treated as one of the family and are not 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 one (1) year.
- Share fishermen.
- People living and working in a religious community.
- Workers on government pre-apprenticeships schemes.
- People on European Union programmes such as: Leonardo da Vinci, Youth in Action, Erasmus, Comenius.
- People working on a Jobcentre Plus Work trial scheme for 6 weeks.
Internships and Work Experience
You cannot get the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage if you are:
- A student doing work experience as part of a higher or further education course.
- Of compulsory school age.
- On a government or European programme.
- Work shadowing.
- A volunteer or doing voluntary work (see below).
If you can only get certain limited benefits (e.g. reasonable travel or lunch expenses) and you are working for a charity, a voluntary organisation or associated fund-raising body, or a statutory body, you get classed as doing voluntary work.
Minimum Wage Employment Law
Laws make it a criminal offence for an employer not to pay the National Minimum Wage 2022 in the UK. The rules also apply to the National Living Wage or making fake salary payment records.
Employers must pay any arrears in salary immediately if you discover your worker got paid an amount below the correct minimum wage. The same applies if Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs finds that you have not been paying the correct rates.
The National Minimum Wage and UK Living Wage calculator helps you to work out any arrears which may be due to your workforce.
To enforce this law, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers have the right to carry out checks at any time.
They can also ask to see your work related payment records. Receiving a complaint from a worker means they can investigate further into your business. This is likely to include your administration and accounting system.
This action may result in a fine and offending employers also risk getting named by the government. Thus, it is an employer’s responsibility to keep records proving they pay the correct wage.
You can use your payroll records as proof. But remember that all payroll records must be available for inspection for three (3) years.
Pay Reference Period National Minimum Wage
A National Minimum Wage pay reference period is a length of time setting out how often someone gets paid. It is usually one week or one month. But, it cannot be more than 31 days.
Note: All workers must get paid for the time they worked inside their NMW pay reference period. The calculations for some basic wages are different for certain types of worker.
Included in Minimum Wage Calculations
Take note of this important point when using the NMW calculator. You should include certain salary payments in your wage calculation such as:
- Income Tax and National Insurance contributions.
- Wage advances or loans.
- Repayment of wage advances or loans.
- Repayment of overpaid wages.
- Things the worker paid for that are not needed for the job or paid for voluntarily (e.g. meals).
- Accommodation provided by an employer above the offset rate (£8.70 a day or £60.90 a week from April 2022).
- Penalty charges for a worker’s misconduct.
Not Included in Minimum Wage Calculations
Take note of this important point when using the NMW calculator. You should not include certain salary payments in your wage calculation such as:
- Payments that should not be included for the employer’s own use or benefit (e.g. employer pays for travel to work).
- Things the worker bought for the job and is not refunded for (e.g. tools, uniform, safety equipment).
HMRC National Minimum Wage Helpline
There is a specific complaint form for reporting information relating to the National Minimum Wage. It also relates to employment agencies, gangmasters, or working hours.
ACAS Minimum Wage Disputes at Work
You should discuss any dispute with your employer if you think your pay is below the correct and current National Minimum Wage rates. If the dispute does not get solved, you can ask to see your employer’s payment records.
But, you must make this request in writing. It is wise to take a witness with you and by law you can make copies of the payment records.
Employers must pay back any arrears that they owe. Workers are also recommended to contact the confidential ACAS Helpline. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service may help you solve a payment dispute at work.
Employer Refusing Payment?
HMRC will send your employer a notice for the arrears. They may also send them a fine for not paying the Acas minimum wage.
This is more likely if they find your employer has not paid at all or is refusing to pay. HM Revenue and Customs can take your employer to court on your behalf if they still refuse to pay.
All workers can choose to go to the employment tribunal themselves. What if you are a worker dismissed because of a minimum wage dispute? In this case you can also complain to the employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.
Related Help Guides
Note: The short video presented by HM Revenue and Customs explains how to make a complaint if you do not get paid in the correct manner.