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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

National minimum wage rates: the legal basis for the different rates and the uniform application of the rates

Relevant legislation

The legislation that applies to this page is as follows:

  • National Minimum Wage Act 1998, sections 2(8), 3, 51(1) & 51(2)
  • Equal Pay Act 1970, Section 1(3)
  • Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006

National minimum wage legislation allows the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (NMWM02020) to:

  • exclude certain groups of people from entitlement to the national minimum wage
  • set rates (NMWM03010) of national minimum wage other than the main rate
  • vary national minimum wage rates according to age
  • make different minimum wage provisions for different cases or groups

Although there are different rates of the national minimum wage, entitlement to each rate applies uniformly to all workers in the same circumstances regardless of:

  • the geographical region or area in which they are employed
  • the sector of employment in which they are employed
  • the size of the undertaking in which they are employed
  • their occupation

The Equal Pay Act 1970 established the legislative basis for men and women to claim equal pay for the same or similar work, unless the difference in pay is genuinely due to a factor other than just a difference in sex. For national minimum wage purposes both sexes are treated equally.

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 implement the age strand of European Directive 2000/78 EC and establish a general framework for equal treatment in employment and vocational training. They prohibit unjustified direct and indirect age discrimination, and all harassment and victimisation on grounds of age. These Regulations amend national minimum wage legislation to bring it in line with the Directive, from pay reference periods starting on or after 1 October 2006. Agricultural wages rates (NMWM03100) can legally differ from national minimum wage rates.

Agricultural wages rates cannot fall below national minimum wage rates but they may be higher in some circumstances (NMWM03100).