2. Who gets the minimum wage

Workers must be at least school leaving age (last Friday in June of the school year they turn 16) 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 aren’t 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 aren’t charged for meals or accommodation, for example au pairs
  • workers younger than school leaving age (usually 16)
  • higher and further education students on a work placement up to 1 year
  • workers on government pre-apprenticeships schemes
  • people on the following European Union programmes: Leonardo da Vinci, Youth in Action, Erasmus, Comenius
  • people working on a Jobcentre Plus Work trial for 6 weeks
  • share fishermen
  • prisoners
  • people living and working in a religious community

Work experience and internships

You won’t get the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage if you’re:

  • a student doing work experience as part of a higher or further education course
  • of compulsory school age
  • a volunteer or doing voluntary work
  • on a government or European programme
  • work shadowing

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 fund-raising body
  • statutory body

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