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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

Roles and responsibilities: the Agricultural Wages Board and Scottish/Northern Irish equivalents

England and Wales

The Agricultural Wages Board (constituted under the Agricultural Wages Act 1948) was an independent body with a statutory obligation to set minimum wage rates (NMWM03100) for workers employed in agriculture in England and Wales.

The Board had discretionary powers to set holiday entitlement and pay, sick pay and other terms and conditions of employment. It produced a legal binding Order enforced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (NMWM02060).

The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 amends the Agricultural Wages Act 1948 to ensure that Orders for agricultural workers comply with the national minimum wage. This means that agricultural wages rates set by Orders must be at least national minimum wage rates, although they can be higher.


The Scottish Agricultural Wages Board is an executive, non-Departmental public body established under the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Act 1949. It performs similar functions to its English and Welsh counterpart. Officers appointed by Ministers of the Scottish Executive (NMWM02060) enforce the Board’s Orders.

Northern Ireland

The Agricultural Wages Board for Northern Ireland provides similar functions for Northern Ireland. It was established under the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) (NI) Order 1977. Its Orders are enforced by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (NMWM02060).