The National Minimum Wage and Living Wage

Who gets the minimum wage

Workers must be at least school leaving age to get the National Minimum Wage. They must be 25 or over to get the National Living Wage.

Contracts for payments below the minimum wage are not legally binding. The worker is still entitled to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

Workers are also entitled to the correct minimum wage if they’re:

  • part-time
  • casual labourers, for example someone hired for one day
  • agency workers
  • workers and homeworkers paid by the number of items they make
  • apprentices
  • trainees, workers on probation
  • disabled workers
  • agricultural workers
  • foreign workers
  • seafarers
  • offshore workers

Apprentices

Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either:

  • under 19
  • 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

Apprentices over 19 who have completed the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to the correct minimum wage for their age.

Not entitled to the minimum wage

The following types of workers are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage:

  • self-employed people running their own business
  • company directors
  • volunteers or voluntary workers
  • workers on a government employment programme, such as the Work Programme
  • members of the armed forces
  • family members of the employer living in the employer’s home
  • non-family members living in the employer’s home who share in the work and leisure activities, are treated as one of the family and are not charged for meals or accommodation, for example au pairs
  • workers younger than school leaving age (usually 16)
  • higher and further education students on work experience or a work placement up to one year
  • people shadowing others at work
  • workers on government pre-apprenticeships schemes
  • people on the following European Union (EU) programmes: Leonardo da Vinci, Erasmus+, Comenius
  • people working on a Jobcentre Plus Work trial for up to 6 weeks
  • share fishermen
  • prisoners
  • people living and working in a religious community

Employers who offer internships (sometimes called ‘work placements’ or ‘work experience’) should check if the person is entitled to the minimum wage.

Voluntary work

You’re classed as doing voluntary work if you can only get certain limited benefits (for example reasonable travel or lunch expenses) and you’re working for a:

  • charity
  • voluntary organisation or associated fundraising body
  • statutory body

Contact the Acas helpline to find out if you should be getting the minimum wage.