UK Minimum Wage

The current National Living Wage for over 25s is £8.72 an hour. From April 2021, for adults over 23, the National Living Wage will be £8.91 an hour.

National Living/ Minimum Hourly Wage UK

Pay changes for the legal minimum wage in the UK.

Date 25 and over 23-24 21-22 18-20 Under 18s Apprentices
April 2022 £9.50 £9.50 £9.18 £6.83 £4.81 £4.81
April 2021 £8.91 £8.91 £8.36 £6.56 £4.62 £4.30
April 2020 £8.72 £8.20 £8.20 £6.45 £4.55 £4.15
April 2019 £8.21 £7.70 £7.70 £6.15 £4.35 £3.90

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New Minimum Wage UK

The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates are an hourly rate that depends on your current age and whether you are an apprentice.

From the 1st April 2022, the new Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates change to:

  • 23 and over: £9.50 an hour
  • 21 to 22: £9.18 hourly
  • 18 to 20: £6.83 hourly
  • Under 18: £4.81 an hour
  • Apprentices: £4.81 per hour

What is the National Living Wage?

The National Minimum Wage rates are for individuals who are at least at school leaving age, and up to the age of 22. The National Living Wage rates are for workers aged 23 or over.

The hourly rates change annually, on the 1st April. 

What is the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage?

The apprenticeship minimum pay is for apprentices that are aged under 19. People aged 19 or over and who are on their first year of their apprenticeship, are also entitled to this pay rate.

If the individual is aged 19 or over and has completed the first year of their apprenticeship, then the apprentice rate is replaced by the National Minimum Wage for their age.

For example

A 21 year old in the second year of their apprenticeship, after the 1st April 2022, will earn an hourly rate of £9.18 per hour. This rate is a significant pay boost, compared to the apprentice rate of £4.81 per hour.

How do I know if I am getting the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage?

To discover if you are correctly receiving the current rates, you can use the Minimum Wage Calculator. This helpful tool will also tell you what employers owe you, if an underpayment has occurred.

What Should I do if I am not Receiving Minimum Wage in England, Wales, or Scotland?

If you are not receiving the National Minimum Wage, you should contact Acas. Acas offers free, confidential advice to employees, employers, and their representatives, on matters of employment rights, policies, and best practices. If you lodge a complaint about fair pay, it will be directed to the relevant office, which in the case of the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage is HM Revenue and Customers (HMRC).

You can ask your employer for your payment records and make a copy of your personal or financial information, ahead of contacting Acas and completing their feedback form.

What Should I do if I am not Receiving Minimum Wage in Northern Ireland?

If you are not receiving the minimum wage, you can visit the Labour Relations Agency website or call their helpline on 0289 032 1442.

What does not Count Towards the National minimum Wage?

Sometimes your employer may pay you a higher rate, than your standard rate of pay. You might be paid more on Bank Holidays, night shifts, overtime, weekends, or if you complete more than a set number of hours. Each of these are considered a premium element and do not count towards your minimum wage. However, the premium element is only the part of the hourly rate that exceeds the minimum hourly rate.

How will the New National Living Wage affect me?

If you are earning the 2021 £8.91 per hour National Minimum Wage, on the 1st April your new UK Living Wage rate will be £9.50 an hour. According to the BBC, this means that a full time worker will earn an extra £1,074 per year, before tax and National Insurance.

National Minimum Wage Announcement

The National Minimum Wage announcement is made official as part of the Budget. The government follows the recommendations made by independent advisors, the Low Pay Commission

The government has been under pressure to help low-paid younger workers, who have faced the worst financial effects caused by the pandemic. 

How does the National Minimum Wage Compare to the Rise of Living Costs?

The current cost of living rise is 3.1%. The wage increase for low paid workers, aged 23 or over, will be 6.6%, more than twice the cost of living rise. The pay rise should make a significant difference for those receiving basic pay.

Minimum Wage for Younger Workers

The National Minimum Wage for younger workers also increases significantly. The National Minimum Wage for employees aged between 21 and 22, goes up to £9.18 and £4.81 for those working on an apprenticeship. The previous rates were £8.36 and £4.30, respectively.

The Living Wage Foundation welcomed the rise, but said there was still a significant gap between the government-enforced National Minimum Wage and its calculations of a real living wage, based on living costs.

Senior Economist, Nye Cominetti, at the Resolution Foundation, also welcomed the minimum wage increase, but said the rise would “not remotely compensate” for the Universal Credit cut. Their financial information indicates that the Universal Credit changes affect 4.4 million families, compared to only 2.2 million employees entitled to the Living Wage.

Many employers and small businesses are concerned that they will not have the money to end low pay and conform to the government regulations. Employers fear they may have to lay off workers, which would result in a higher unemployment rate. However, raising the pay benefits of workers in past years has not caused a rise in unemployment.

Director if Business and Regulations, at the British Retail Consortium, Tom Ironside, highlighted that retail businesses were working hard to improve productivity, to sustainably support higher wages. However, he pointed out that small and medium businesses were struggling with higher government-induced costs, such as rising business rates, higher National Insurance contributions, and rising corporation tax.

Agricultural Workers Benefits

The wages and money paid to agricultural workers in Northern Ireland are set at a different minimum amount. They cannot be paid less than the National Living Wage or Minimum Wage, with some entitled to more money. How much they are paid depends on their grade, categorised at grade 1-6.

Most workers are classed as grade one for the bulk of the first year (forty weeks), before becoming a grade two standard worker. Workers classed as lead worker, craft grade, supervisory grade, and farm management grade are entitled to be paid more money, ensuring better living standards for more experienced workers.

What is the Real Living Wage

The Real Living Wage is an independently calculated pay rate that is based on rising living costs, including spend on energy, fuel service charges, food, rent and other payments. The  Real Living Wage is higher than the government’s National Living Wage and is paid by businesses who have committed to being a Living Wage Employer.

The Real Living Wage for a full time worker in the UK will be £9.90 (up from £9.50). The Real London Living Wage will be £11.05 (up from £10.85). According to the Living Wage Foundation, who calculate the required living wages, 17% of employee jobs fall short of the Real Living Wage. A full time worker over an age of 23 would earn £1,930 per year more, if their employer were to pay the Real Living Wage.

National Minimum Wage FAQs

Here we answer the most frequently asked questions on pay.

What is the UK Minimum Wage 2021?

The UK Minimum Wage is the rate an employer must pay to people above school leaving age, up to the age of 22. The employer must pay the National Living Wage, to people aged 23 and over. The minimum pay for workers in the UK during 2021 to 31st March 2022 are:

  • 23 and over: £8.91
  • 21 to 22: £8.36
  • 18 to 20: £6.56
  • Under 18: £4.62
  • Apprentices: £4.30

What will the UK minimum wage be in 2022?

An employer must pay their staff the following rates from the 1st April 2022:

  • 23 and over: £9.50
  • 21 to 22: £9.18
  • 18 to 20: £6.83
  • Under 18: £4.81
  • Apprentices: £4.81

What is the living wage UK 2021?

The National Living Wage is the minimum wage an employer must pay, as set by the government. The Real Living Wage is the rate an employer pays if they commit to the recommendations made by the Living Wage Foundation. The guidance (23 and over) is making work pay a higher rate with a difference of £0.40 hourly, compared to the rate stipulated by the government. Workers with an age of 23 and over would be entitled to a rate of £9.90, following Real Living Wage guidance. 

Hourly Living Wage UK Rates 2022

The Living Wage Foundation sets its own Living Wage rate which a larage number of businesses use instead of the UK Government's legal minimum rate.

The Living Wage Foundation sets two rates; one for London, and a lower rate for outside of London.

Region Rate
London £11.05
Outside London £9.90

Lowest Paying Cities

Cities ranked by lowest average salary

Location Salary
Wakefield £27,244.47
Bradford £28,008.85
Sheffield £28,560.48
Liverpool £29,276.68
Leicester £29,363.84
Nottingham £29,943.72
Coventry £30,132.97
Sunderland £30,338.98
Belfast £30,423.46
Glasgow £30,819.96
Newcastle upon Tyne £30,934.03
Cardiff £31,042.06
Edinburgh £31,604.68
Leeds £32,128.12
Birmingham £34,440.75
Reading £36,808.33
London £39,825.82

Lowest Paying Region

Regions ranked by lowest average salary

Location Salary
Northern Ireland £25,103.83
North East £26,938.80
Wales £26,940.22
East Midlands £27,185.57
Yorkshire and the Humber £27,486.16
South West £27,907.32
Scotland £28,278.78
West Midlands £28,638.39
North West £28,888.39
Eastern £29,428.71
South East £30,229.99
Isle of Man £33,940.91
London £39,825.82