All employees or ‘workers’ (see Determining Employment Status above) are entitled to the National Minimum or Living Wage. It is illegal to pay any employee or ‘worker’ less than this amount.
There are four rates of the National Minimum Wage: (i) for people less than 18 but over school-leaving age, (ii) for people between 18 and 20; (iii) for people 21 to 24; and (iv) apprentices.
For people 25 and over the National Living Wage applies.
These are the rates for the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage. The rates change every April.
|Year||25 and over||21 to 24||18 to 20||Under 18||Apprentice|
|April 2017 (current)||£7.50||£7.05||£5.60||£4.05||£3.50|
Work experience students are not subject to national minimum wage rules provided that they are undertaking their placement as part of a UK-based higher or further education course and the placement lasts for less than 12 months. Genuine volunteers (i.e. those who are not contractually obliged to carry out work) are also not subject to the national minimum wage.
Avoidance of the National Minimum or Living Wage has become a topical issue recently and HMRC has begun to investigate companies that appear to exploit interns or individuals on work experience. Given the prevalence of interns and unpaid workers in the media industry, it may become an important consideration when recruiting for a production.
Where HMRC considers that the National Minimum or Living Wage has not been complied with (either by workers being paid too little or not at all), the employer could be ordered to pay arrears (plus interest) and penalties. It can also lead to scrutiny from HMRC in other financial affairs.