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National minimum wage rates rise again but what about the “living wage”?

From 1st October 2015 the new national minimum wage hourly rates will be:  

Age 21 and over:£6.70 (up from £6.50)
Age 17-18:£5.30 (up from £5.13)
Under 18:£3.87 (up from £3.79)

Apprentices under 19 or 19 or over in their 1st year of apprenticeship: £3.30 (up from £2.73)  

The government recently announced the introduction of a new “national living wage” for workers aged 25  and over.  From April 2016 the new national living wage for these workers will be £7.20 per hour. It is unlawful not to pay the national minimum wage and the same rule will apply to the new national living wage when it comes in.

The “national minimum wage” and the “national living wage” are different from the “living wage” which is promoted by the Living Wage Foundation. It calculates that an individual needs to earn £9.15 per hour if they live in London or £7.85 per hour in the rest of the UK in order to cover the basic cost of living. The living wage now has widespread support from some politicians, church leaders, charities, and (mainly larger) employers. Last month Lidl supermarket announced it was going to pay the “living wage”. It is not compulsory to pay the living wage and many employers lawfully choose not to do so.

In some cases it can be extremely complex to calculate whether an employee is being paid the hourly national minimum wage, especially if they are working as live-in carers, if they work on call or do piecework. Employees who believe they are not being paid the national minimum wage can report their employer to HMRC who will investigate for them. Employers who fail to pay the national minimum wage can be “named and shamed” by the Government’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and face very large fines and, in some cases, criminal penalties. Employees can also submit claims against their employer to an employment tribunal for unauthorised deduction of wages.

If you would like any further information  please contact employment solicitor Deborah Scales on 07714 092 800 or at

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