2. Who gets the minimum wage

Entitled to the minimum wage

Workers must be school leaving age (last Friday in June of the school year they turn 16) or over to get the minimum wage.

Contracts for payments below the minimum wage are not legally binding. The worker is still entitled to the minimum wage.

Workers are also entitled to the minimum wage if they are:

  • part-time
  • casual labourers, eg someone hired for 1 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 under 19 or in the first year of a level 2 or 3 apprenticeship get an apprentice rate. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.

Not entitled to the minimum wage

The following types of workers aren’t entitled to the minimum wage:

  • self-employed people running their own business
  • company directors
  • volunteers or voluntary workers
  • workers on a government employment programme, eg the Work Programme
  • 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 (eg 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
  • members of the armed forces
  • share fishermen
  • prisoners
  • people living and working in a religious community

Work experience and internships

You won’t get minimum 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 (eg reasonable travel or lunch expenses) and you’re working for a:

  • charity
  • voluntary organisation or associated fund-raising body
  • statutory body

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