The Government have recently named and shamed well-known employers who have fallen foul of the National Minimum Wage legislation. They have also published a list of ‘outrageous excuses’ cited by employers who have failed to pay the minimum wage.
Legal requirement to pay at least the minimum wage
As an employer, you have a legal requirement to pay a worker at least the statutory minimum wage for their age. Check that you are paying your workers the correct amount, and that you understand how to calculate the minimum amount that you need to pay the worker depending on the type of work that they do.
National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage
The National Living Wage (NLW) is the legal minimum that you must pay a worker who is aged 23 and over. The NLW is £8.91 an hour.
Workers under the age of 23 and above compulsory school age must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for their age. This is £8.36 per hour for workers aged 21 and 22, £6.56 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20, and £4.62 per hour for workers who have reached school leaving age and who are under the age of 18.
A separate NMW rate applies to apprentices. This is currently £4.30 per hour. The apprentice rate of the NMW should be paid to apprentices under the age of 19, and to apprentices over the age of 19 who are in the first year of their apprenticeship. You must pay apprentices aged 19 and over who have completed the first year of their apprenticeship at least the NMW for their age.
Despite the legal requirement to pay apprentices at least the relevant NMW, the Low Pay Commission found that only around 1 in 5 apprentices received the NMW. Mistakes made by employers include continuing to pay the apprentice rate to apprentices once they had reached the age of 19 and completed the first year of their apprenticeship, and failing to pay apprentices for their training time.
If you provide your workers with accommodation, you can reduce the minimum wage to provide for a contribution to the cost of the accommodation. The permitted reduction – the accommodation offset – is set at £58.52 per week (£8.36 per day).
Speak to us if you are unsure whether you are complying with the NMW legislation.