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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Entitlement to National Minimum Wage: Self-employment

Relevant legislation

The legislation that applies to this page is as follows:

  • National Minimum Wage Act 1998, section 54(3)(b)


There is no definition of self-employment in the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. However, those who are genuinely and independently self-employed are not entitled to the national minimum wage as they cannot be classed as a worker within the meaning of the Act. This is because the work or services they supply is provided by their business to their customer or client under a contract for services.

It is important to ensure that employers do not attempt to avoid paying national minimum wage by setting up arrangements to claim their workers are self-employed. Instances where such arrangements appear to be in operation for workers need to be thoroughly investigated.

There are a number of issues to consider when distinguishing between someone who is self-employed and someone who is a worker (NMWM05020). It is not simply determined by someone’s tax status and a person who has been assessed as “self-employed” for tax purposes may not necessarily be self-employed for the purposes of national minimum wage (NMWM04020).