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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

Pay reference periods & elements of pay: what is a pay reference period?

Relevant legislation

The legislation that applies to this page is as follows:

* National Minimum Wage Act 1998, section 1(4)
* National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, regulation 6


The pay reference period is usually the period for which a worker is paid (NMWM09020). It is used as the basis for calculating whether the national minimum wage has been paid.

A worker does not need to be paid at or above their national minimum wage rate for each individual hour worked in the pay reference period. However, they must be paid at or above the national minimum wage on average for all the hours worked in the pay reference period.