I've taken a temporary Christmas job, but it doesn't pay the minimum wage – is this legal?

Sadly, Scrooge did not die along with Dickens, so you should check that your boss has got it right. Most people are entitled to the minimum wage, including home workers, agency workers, piece and commission workers, part-time workers, zero-hours contract workers and those working for small firms.

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is reviewed every year in April.

The current National Minimum Wage (NMW) hourly rates (from 1 April 2019) are:

  • £8.21 for workers aged 25 and over;
  • £7.70 for workers aged between 21 and 24;
  • £6.15 for workers aged between 18 and 20, except for workers aged 19 and over in the first year of an apprenticeship, who get the apprenticeship rate (see below);
  • £4.35 for workers aged 16 or 17;
  • £3.90 for apprentices aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

The bad news is that the following workers are exempt from the minimum wage:

  • family members working in a family business;
  • those who live with their employer and who are genuinely treated as one of the family, such as au pairs;
  • some trainees on government-funded schemes;
  • students in higher education work placements, if the placement lasts for a maximum of one year;
  • members of the armed forces;
  • prisoners;
  • share fishermen, mariners and offshore workers based outside the UK for the majority of the time; and
  • the genuinely self-employed (this means running your own business freely – selling your own services or goods to your own clients and customers).

Employers that provide accommodation can count some of its value towards minimum pay – currently £7.55 a day or £52.85 a week.

You can use our Minimum Wage calculator to find our if you should be getting minimum pay, and at what rate.

For further advice, contact your union, see the National Minimum Wage information on the GOV.UK website or ring the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100. The complaint can be referred by the Acas helpline to HMRC national minimum wage compliance officers who have the power to recover arrears on your behalf and can levy hefty fines on your employer for breaking national minimum wage laws. HMRC can also decide to 'name and shame' your employer on a public register.

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.

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