From 1st October, younger workers on the National Minimum Wage will receive a pay increase worth up to £450 a year. The National Minimum Wage is increasing by 25p an hour to £6.95 if you’re aged between 21 and 24.
You’ll get the same increase if you’re aged 18 to 20, with their minimum wages increasing to £5.55 an hour. The rate for 16 and 17-year olds is rising by 13p an hour to £4 while apprentices under 19 face a rise of 10p to £3.40.
The Government claim the rise is the largest for low-paid workers since the recession. However, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for all workers to receive the national living wage (£7.20 an hour) which only applies to workers over 25.
Am I eligible for the National Minimum Wage?
The National Minimum Wage is the hourly rate you're entitled to by law. The rate you receive will depend on your age and whether you're an apprentice. You can start receiving the National Minimum Wage once you reach school leaving age and it applies to part-time, agency work and apprentices.
Before this increase, 16 and 17-year-olds received £3.87 an hour, 18 to 20-year-olds received £5.55 an hour, 21 to 24-year-olds received £3.87 an hour and apprentices got an hourly rate of £3.30.
National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage?
While the National Minimum Wage is available for most young workers, the National Living Wage is only available for workers aged 25 or over and not if they’re in the first year of an apprenticeship.
These workers are now legally entitled to at least £7.20 an hour. The National Living Wage rates change every April, while the National Minimum Wage rates change every October.
There has been some criticism of the two different wage rates. Some including the TUC don't believe there's any justification for paying younger workers (those under the age of 25) 25p an hour less than those a few years older than them.
Don't think you're getting the right wage?
It's a criminal offence for employers to not pay you the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, depending on your age. If you notice you're not getting paid the minimum wage, or have not started to receive the National Living Wage you should inform your employer.
If your employer is found out by the HMRC to not be paying you the correct amounts, you should receive any backdated payments immediately. The company could face a fine on top of this as well.
Get in touch with Acas if you think you're not being paid the minimum wage you should be.
Need to boost your income?
If you find it a struggle to cover your bills each month, you should look into whether you're eligible for any benefits. You could get Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance if you work less than 16 hours a week.
You could also receive certain benefits if you work 16 hours a week or more.