Advice Column: National Minimum Wage

Thursday 16th November 2017

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo advice column this week we focus on the minimum wage.

 I am confused about the National Minimum Wage, and how this differs from the National Living Wage? How do I check what I am entitled to?

 Most people who work are entitled to get paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW). This includes casual workers, people on zero hours contracts and agency workers.

There is also a higher rate called the National Living Wage. You should be paid this if you’re 25 or older and you’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

Your employer can’t fire you or alter your work to get around the National Living Wage. For example, they can’t take work that you’ve been doing away from you and give it to someone under 25 to avoid having to increase your wage.

You’re not entitled to the minimum wage if you’re any of the following:

  • self-employed
  • under 16
  • living and working with a family as an au pair or nanny, and not paying towards your accommodation or meals
  • in the armed forces
  • a volunteer or doing work experience
  • a prisoner
  • some trainees and interns
  • some farm workers

If you’re not sure whether you fall into any of these categories, you can check if you’re entitled to minimum wage using the TUC’s checker – – or call the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100.

If you’re entitled to the minimum wage, the amount you should get depends on your age and whether you’re an apprentice. These are the latest rates:


About youName of wageHourly rate

(before tax)

Age 25 or overNational Living Wage£7.50
Age 21-24National Minimum Wage£7.05
Age 18-20National Minimum Wage£5.60
Age 16-17National Minimum Wage£4.05
Apprentices aged 16-18 or

first-year apprentices aged 19 or over

National Minimum Wage£3.50

If you’re not getting the minimum wage when you should be getting it, your employer owes you the difference between what you should have been paid and what they’ve actually been paying you.

Try having an informal chat with your employer. Ask them to explain how they’ve worked out your pay, and to tell you why they think you’re not entitled to be paid the minimum wage – or why they think you’re already getting it.

If your employer agrees they’ve made a genuine mistake, ask them to pay you what you’re owed immediately.

Your employer might say they give you benefits that ‘top up’ your pay rate to the minimum wage, e.g. they give you meals or you get to keep all your tips. You should ask for the wage instead – you’ve got the right to be paid the minimum wage on top of any extra benefits like these.

If you’re not getting anywhere, if you haven’t already, call the Acas helpline. They’ll confirm whether you’re entitled to the minimum wage and help you work out your options. You can also get more information and advice at or telephone Citizens Advice Exeter on 03444 111 444.

 Look out for our column next week when we focus on pension auto-enrolment.

 The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit