Money Wellness
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National minimum wage

Half a million people in the UK may be getting paid less than the national minimum wage, according to the Low Pay Commission. So, what is the national minimum wage and what should you do if you think you’ve been underpaid?

What is the national minimum wage?

The national minimum wage is the least an employer can legally pay someone working in the UK. The rates go up every year on 1 April. You will receive the new rate in your first full pay cycle after that date.

Most workers are entitled to the minimum wage. The only ones that aren’t are:

  • prisoners
  • people living and working in a religious community
  • the armed forces
  • company directors
  • people on work experience
  • people shadowing someone in the workplace
  • people who haven’t reached school leaving age
  • company directors
  • volunteers
  • self-employed people working for their own business
  • people on a Jobcentre Plus work trial for up to six weeks

What are the minimum wage rates?



Under 18

18 – 20

21 and over

From April 2024





Common situations where you might be underpaid

  1. You’re not being paid for ALL your working time

Your employer must pay you for all your working time including:

  • training
  • overtime
  • travelling as part of your job
  • arriving early and leaving late to carry out duties such as opening or closing up


  1. You’re having to buy things to do your job

If you need to buy things like clothing or tools, your employer needs to make sure these costs don’t effectively take your pay below the national minimum wage. This is the case whether you buy the items direct from your employer or from a shop.

  1. Your pay is being topped up with overtime, commission or tips

Overtime, commission and tips must be on top of the minimum wage.

  1. You’re a commission-only worker

If you don’t make enough commission in any regular pay period, your employer must top up your earnings so that they meet the minimum wage requirements. If you work set hours, you should be paid at least the minimum wage for these hours. Otherwise, your pay should be based on a ‘fair estimate’ of how long the work should take.

  1. You’re being paid as an apprentice but not trained like one

If your apprenticeship doesn’t include structured training, you should be paid the minimum wage for your age rather than the apprentice wage. Training should have a specific timescale and aim, as well as equipping you with transferable skills you’ll be able to use to progress in your chosen career.

What to do if you think you’ve been underpaid

If you believe you’ve been paid less than the minimum wage, you can make a complaint.

The complaint process:

What happens after you’ve made a complaint to HMRC?

If HMRC find that your employer has underpaid you, they can:

  • make your employer pay you back the amount you’ve been underpaid, going back six years at current minimum wage rates
  • fine your employer
  • take your employer to court if they refuse to pay
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