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The national minimum wage was first introduced on 1 April 1999 by the Labour Party. The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 applies to workers who are over 16, including part-time workers, agency workers and casual labourers, among others. However, self-employed people, company directors and volunteers are not entitled to it.

Minimum wage rates

From 1 April 2019, the following national minimum wage rates apply:

  • 16-17 years olds: £4.35 (previously £4.20);
  • 18-20 years olds: £6.15 (previously £5.90);
  • 21-24 year olds – £7.70 (previously £7.38); and
  • 25 and over – £8.21 (previously £7.83).

This increase will result in an extra £690 a year for people earning the national minimum wage who are 25 and over

Although the national minimum wage has increased, the cost of living is on the rise, with household bills, such as council tax, TV licence fee and utility bills also increasing.

Women are set to benefit most from the increase in the national minimum wage, and around 200,000 of those in the hospitality and retail sectors will receive this enhanced payment, according to the government.

National living wage

The national living wage was introduced in April 2016 and this is the statutory minimum wage for workers aged 25 and over. The current national living wage is in line with the national minimum wage of £8.21. However, around six million workers are paid less than the national living wage.

Apprentices are also entitled to the minimum wage for their age if they are aged 19 or over and have completed the first year of their apprenticeship. Apprentices who are under 19 or aged 19 or over but in the first year of an apprenticeship are entitled to the apprentice rate, which is currently £3.90.

For more information on entitlement to the national minimum or living wage or employment issues in general, please contact our Employment Law partner David Leslie by emailing [email protected] or calling 0113 368 7804.