Most people who work are entitled to get paid at least the National Minimum Wage. This includes casual workers, people on zero hours contracts and agency workers. If you are 25 or over and are entitled to the National Minimum Wage, you should now be entitled to the higher rate of £7.20 per hour (before tax) called the National Living Wage. Those aged 21-24 will get £6.70, 18-20s will get £5.30, 16-17s £3.87 and apprentices who are 16-18 or first year apprentices who are over 19 are entitled to a minimum of £3.30 per hour.
Who is not entitled to the minimum wage?
- Self-employed (check whether you are in fact a worker who is entitled )
- 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 or interns (you may need to get advice on these)
- Some farm workers (check on www.gov.uk)
If you are still not sure you can check if you are entitled to the minimum wage using the TUC’s checker, call the ACAS helpline 0300 123 1100 or visit www.acas.org.uk
How can I check what I’m entitled to?
You can use the National Minimum Wage calculator on the www.gov.uk website. If you are getting less than the appropriate minimum wage the calculator will tell you how much your employer owes you.
But if you fall into one of the following categories the rules are tricky and you should get advice
- You’re not paid for travelling time between appointments
- You haven’t been paid for time spent on a training course
- You’re not paid for time ‘on call’
- Your employer takes money from your wages for accommodation
If you’re not getting the minimum wage you’re entitled to, what can you do about it?
Your employer owes you the difference between what you should have been paid and what they have actually been paying you.
Try having an informal chat with your employer. Ask them to explain how they worked out your pay and tell you why they think you’re not entitled to be paid the minimum wage.
Your employer might say that they give you benefits that ‘top up’ your rate of pay to the minimum wage. You should ask them for the minimum wage instead- you’ve got the right to be paid the minimum wage. Any benefits should be on top of this.
Your employer can’t fire you or alter your work to get around the National Living Wage e.g. they can’t take away work that you have been doing and give it to someone under 25 to avoid increasing your wage. If you think that something like this has happened, you should seek advice.
You can ask for advice at any stage from your local Citizens Advice, or you can ring the ACAS advice helpline. You will need to do this if you want to start formal proceedings, which could lead to you taking your employer to a tribunal (you must start this procedure within 3 months less one day – starting from the date of the most recent underpayment) or reporting him or her to HMRC, who will decide whether to investigate your employer. They will be more likely to do this if several people complain.
You’re legally protected from unfair dismissal or other unfair treatment, even if you report your employer to HMRC. In theory, this may not stop your employer from treating you unfairly if they suspect you have reported them. If you’re worried, tell ACAS that you don’t want to be named when HMRC contacts your employer.