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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

Entitlement to National Minimum Wage: what is a worker?

Relevant legislation

The legislation that applies to this page is as follows:

  • National Minimum Wage Act 1998, Sections 1 & 54 (3)


Most workers in the United Kingdom over compulsory school leaving age are entitled to be paid at least national minimum wage rates. A worker is defined in the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, section 54(3) as someone who has entered into or works or worked under:

  • A contract of employment (NMWM04050); or
  • Any other contract (NMWM04060) by which the individual undertakes to perform work or services personally for someone else. The contract can be expressed (orally or in writing) or implied but does not apply where the individual is working on a genuinely self -employed basis for someone who is their client or customer. Self-employed (NMWM05060) people are not entitled to the national minimum wage).

The definition of a worker also includes part-time workers, workers on short-term contracts, agricultural workers and casual workers. Special provisions apply for home workers (NMWM05120) and agency workers (NMWM05110) and for certain other groups (NMWM06000) covered by regulations.