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What is the National Minimum Wage?

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) applies to most workers and sets minimum hourly rates of pay. The rates are provided in regulations made by the Secretary for State with parliamentary approval, based on the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission (LPC).

NMW rates vary by age group. NMW rates vary by age group. From April 2023 the minimum wage is: 

  • £10.42  per hour for adults aged 23 and over (this is the “National Living Wage” rate)
  • £10.18 for 21-22 year olds,
  • £7.49 for 18-20 year olds, 
  • £5.28 for under 18s, 
  • £5.28 for apprentices aged under 19 or in their first year of an apprenticeship.

From April 2024 the minimum wage will be: 

  • £11.44 per hour for adults aged 21 and over
  • £8.60 for 18-20 year olds, 
  • £6.40 for under 18s, 
  • £6.40 for apprentices 

How has the value of the NMW changed over time?

The value of each minimum wage rate has increased in real terms (i.e., has increased faster than prices) since the NMW was first introduced in 1999. In the aftermath of the 2008/09 recession, the real value of all minimum wage rates decreased, but NMW rates are now above pre-recession levels in real terms.

Low Pay Commission remit

The Low Pay Commission met its target of a National Living Wage worth 60% of median earnings in 2020 and is expected to meet its subsequent target of 66% of median earnings in 2024.

The Government has set another remit for the Low Pay Commission, asking for evidence to inform future minimum wage policy beyond 2024.

How many people are paid at the NMW?

The Low Pay Commission estimates that there were around 1.6 million workers paid at or below the minimum wage in April 2023, around 5% of all UK workers. This compares to 1.5 million jobs paid at or below the NMW in 2015, before the introduction of the National Living Wage.

Jobs paid around the minimum wage are concentrated within a small number of low-paying occupations. The Low Pay Commission estimates that 54% of all jobs paying at or below the minimum wage are in retail, hospitality, and cleaning & maintenance occupations.

Workers in the private sector, in part-time employment, in temporary jobs, from a Bangladeshi or Pakistani background are more likely to have a minimum wage job.

How does the NMW compare to minimum wages in other countries?

The UK has a relatively high minimum wage, in terms of monetary value, compared with other OECD countries. In 2022, the UK had the eighth highest adult minimum wage out of 25 OECD countries (based on the National Living Wage rate) after taking into account differences in the cost of living.

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