What is the minimum I can be paid in the UK?

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum that you can be paid for each hour that you work. The following rates apply as of 1 April 2017:

  • If you are aged 25 and over should get no less than £7.50 an hour (called the national living wage).
  • If you are between 21 and 24, you should get at least £7.05.
  • If you are aged 18 to 20, you should get at least £5.60.
  • If you are 16 or 17, you should get at least £4.05 per hour.
  • If you are an apprentice under the age of 19, or over the age of 19 but in the first year of your apprenticeship, you should get at least £3.50 per hour.

Any tips you receive are on top of your entitlement to a minimum wage.

If accommodation is provided for you, a maximum of £44.80 per week can be deducted from the NMW to pay for this (or £6.40 per day where less than a full week’s accommodation is provided).

No deductions can be made for any meals or other refreshments that are provided. If transport is provided to get you to and from work, a deduction can be made. There is no limit on this and it is a common source of abuse.

Some workers have no fixed hours and are paid by what they produce (their output) or paid on completion of a specific job. For these workers, the situation is more complicated. Employers either have to pay the worker the minimum wage per hour for all hours worked, or have to pay 120% of the minimum wage for the number of hours it takes an average worker to complete an agreed block of work.

The employer has to carry out tests to establish the time it takes an average worker to complete the work. For example, if the tests show that for a particular job, the average worker (aged 25 or over) can complete 10 pieces an hour, the employer must pay the workers at least 90 pence per piece in order to pay the current national living wage rate of £7.50 per hour (i.e. £7.50 times 120% divided by 10 pieces equals 90p).

The 120% calculation was introduced to reflect that while the average (mean) worker would complete the estimated amount of work in one hour, some workers – perhaps 50% – would complete it more slowly, and would therefore receive less than the equivalent of the NMW per hour were the price per piece paid at 100% of the NMW. The 120% calculation brings a higher proportion of piece-rate workers under minimum wage protection.

You can check whether you're entitled to the National Minimum Wage, at which rate, and how much you can expect with our Minimum Wage Calculator.

If you think that you are not being paid the NMW, you should call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100. You can also seek advice from your union (if you are a member) or from an advice agency.

If you are not a member of a union, browse our Union Finder tool to find advice on how to join and on the benefits of joining. Ensuring that workers are paid at least the National Minimum Wage for all the hours they work is a key organising and campaigning issue for unions.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.