You may have heard the term national minimum wage before, but what does it mean exactly? Well, it refers to the minimum hourly wage a worker should be paid. This amount depends on their age and whether or not they’re an apprentice.
What is the national minimum wage?
|Minimum apprentice wage||£3.40|
|National minimum wage (under 18)||£4.00|
|National minimum wage (18-20)||£5.55|
|National minimum wage (21-24)||£6.40|
|National Living Wage (25 and above)||£7.20|
Almost everyone is entitled to a minimum wage from the age of 16 but as you get older, the amount you're entitled to increases.
'As of October 2016, the national minimum wage for 18-Year-Olds is £5.55 per hour'
You may also have have heard of something called the "National Living Wage". This is higher than the national minimum wage and applies to workers over 25 years. However, some employers choose to become "Living Wage Employers" and pay all of their staff the Living Wage rate, regardless of their age.
Check out this video from the Financial Times for more information on the National Living Wage:
Do all employers have to pay the minimum wage?
It doesn’t matter how small an employer is, they still have to pay everyone the correct amount depending on their age.
When you turn 18, you can look forward to a higher minimum wage than when you were 16 and 17. As of the 1st April 2016, the national minimum wage for 18 year olds, 19 year olds and 20 year olds in the UK is £5.55 per hour.
National minimum wage rates are adjusted every October, so you should keep an eye on how they change and make sure that your employer adjusts your salary accordingly. The GovUK website has a really handy minimum wage calculator you can use to check if you're being paid the correct minimum wage for your age.
The national minimum wage for apprentices
As an apprentice, you're also entitled to a minimum wage. The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £3.40 per hour. This rate applies to apprentices who are under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first apprenticeship year. All other apprentices are entitled to the minimum wage for their age.
You can find out more in our article on the apprenticeship wage.
How does the minimum wage compare in popular jobs?
We've written up a shortlist of popular jobs in the UK to show you how the average wage in these professions compares to the minimum wage for 18 year olds. It's worth noting that these hourly rates are taken from the PayScale website, are average figures and not age-dependent.
|Job role||Average wage|
|Retail sales assistant||£6.91|
|Customer service assistant||£7.37|
We also found this table, which shows the lowest and highest paying jobs in the UK by hourly rate. Again, these are average rates and not dependent on age either:
Although the minimum wage exists for 18-year-olds, it's worth bearing in mind that many employers do actually pay over this minimum rate. So although your minimum hourly salary may not look great compared to other jobs out there, remember that as you get older, it will increase and there's always a chance that your employer will pay higher than the minimum.