Almost all UK workers have a legal right to a minimum level of pay, called the National Minimum Wage. The level is set by the government each year based on the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission (LPC).
With a few exceptions, all workers in the UK aged 16 or over are legally entitled to be paid a minimum amount per hour. This is regardless of the kind of work they do or the size and type of company. The rate is reviewed every year, and any increases take place in October.
There are different levels of National Minimum Wage, depending on the age of the worker:
Your average hourly pay must be at least the National Minimum Wage. To work this out you first add up everything you've earned over a period (called the 'reference period' - normally a week), including any bonuses and commission. You then deduct any payments that do not count towards the National Minimum Wage and divide the balance by the number of hours you worked in that period to get your average pay. More details on calculating your pay can be found in thewebsite.
Employers who pay workers on a piece-rate basis either have to pay their workers the minimum wage for each hour worked or have to set a fair rate which allows their workers to earn the minimum wage. (Piecework, (sometimes called 'output work'), is work where you're paid for making or processing a number of items, or for completing a number of tasks. It is often done from home.) See thewebsite for more details.
Some apprentices qualify for the National Minimum Wage at a different rate. There are two types of apprentice:
Both types of apprentice who are under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to £3.50 an hour.
Apprentices aged 19 or over who have completed their first year receive the National Minimum Wage according to their age.
Almost everyone who works in the UK is legally entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage. This is the case even if an employer asks a worker to sign an employment contract at a lower rate of pay. It isn't necessary to be in full-time employment, or to work at an employer's premises. For example, you're entitled to receive the minimum wage if you're:
Your right to the National Minimum Wage depends on your employment status. In order to qualify, you need to be a 'worker'.
For more information, see our '' section.
You are not entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage if you're:
In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, agricultural workers have separate pay rates set by each country's Agricultural Wages Board.
If an employer provides accommodation, some of this (currently £6.40 a day) can be counted towards a worker's minimum pay.
The National Minimum Wage is a specific hourly rate that includes your basic pay, plus extra money such as incentives and bonuses. If you get a regional allowance (like London Weighting) rolled on top of your basic pay, that doesn't count. Neither does extra money for shift working or overtime.
All employees have the right to be given a document setting out how their pay is calculated. If you think you're not getting what you are entitled to, try talking to your employer, who may have made a simple mistake. If this doesn't help, or if you don't want to speak to your employer, you can contactfor help.
Not paying you the National Minimum Wage, if you are entitled to it, can also count as an unlawful deduction from wages.