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Wherever you work and whatever you do, if you are over the school leaving age, you are entitled to receive over a certain amount of money per hour for that work. This is the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
The NMW changes according to your age. For example, you will get more when you turn 18 years old than you would at 16. The four bands of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) are 21 and over, 18 to 20, Under 18 (but above the school leaving age) and Apprentice.
For a full list of the current National Minimum Wage rates, visit the UK Government website. The rates are usually updated every October.
Check out this calculator for working out if you’re getting the National Minimum Wage.
It is your legal right to receive the minimum wage, unless you are:
- Below the school leaving age – in Wales, you can leave school on the last Friday in June, as long as you’ll be 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays
- An apprentice. Apprentices aged between 19 and 25 do not qualify for the national minimum wage for the first year of their apprenticeship. If, after the first year of the apprenticeship, the apprentice is under 22, then they will qualify for the reduced rate of NMW for young workers. If they are 22 or over after the first year of apprenticeship, they will be entitled to the full rate of NMW (unless they become a trainee). Once they reach the age of 26, they will qualify for the full rate of minimum wage, whether they are in the first year of apprenticeship or not
- Living and working within a family, such as a nanny or an au pair. You will not be entitled to the NMW if you live in the family home where you work and share meals with the family and you do not have to pay towards their accommodation costs or meals
- Tips and service charges that you may get, if you work as a waiter or a hairdresser for example, do not count as part of your pay and are not included in the NMW
- For a full list, please see the UK Government page on Who Gets The Minimum Wage
If your employer is not paying you the national minimum wage and you think you are entitled to it, get expert advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or call the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368
Pay and Work Rights Helpline
Help and advice for workers and employers on workers’ rights at work.
The service is free and confidential. The helpline has a free translation service available in over 100 languages.
The Living Wage
You may have heard about something called the living wage. This is not the same thing as the National Minimum Wage. The living wage is an estimate of what is needed to live in the UK. At the time of writing the living wage in Wales (and the rest of the UK apart from London) is £7.45 an hour.
Your employer does not have to pay you a living wage, but they can opt into doing it. You can find out more on the Living Wage Foundation’s website.
You can contact the Money Advice Service on 0300 500 5000 (or 0300 500 5555 for Welsh) Mon - Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 9am-1pm. There’s also an online chat function on their site.
You can contact Meic for free via online chat, text (84001) or phone (080880 23456).