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Know your rights

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Apprentices – Know Your Minimum Wage Rights

This advice and guidance is from HMRC

If you are an apprentice, or about to start an apprenticeship, here’s some advice  to help you make sure you’re being paid what you are entitled to:

Earned it, owed it, paid it?

As colleges and universities welcome a new intake of apprentices, and others return for their second year, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has an important message: Make sure you are being paid the correct National Minimum Wage and being paid for every hour you work.

Most workers are legally entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage and this includes apprentices.

What is the difference between the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage?

  • The National Minimum Wage is the rate of pay for workers under the age of 23.
  • The National Living Wage is the rate of pay for workers aged 23 and over.

What are the rates for apprentices?

There are different minimum rates of pay for apprentices depending on your age and what year of your apprenticeship you are in:

  • Aged 16 to 18 and in an apprenticeship:
  • Aged 19 or over and in your first year of an apprenticeship:
    • The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice is £5.28 per hour.
  • Aged 19 or over and have completed your first year of your apprenticeship:

The current National Minimum Wage hourly rates as of 1 April 2023 are:  

National Minimum Wage       National Living Wage
Apprentice

Age

16-17

Age

18-20

Age

21-22

Age 23+
£5.28 £5.28 £7.49 £10.18 £10.42

For example, a 21-year-old apprentice who is in the first year of their apprenticeship will receive at least the minimum hourly rate of £5.28, but a 21-year-old apprentice who has completed the first year of an apprenticeship is entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £10.18. 

National Minimum Wage rates change each April, so make sure you are being paid correctly.

How can I check my rate of pay?

Your apprenticeship contract or agreement must confirm your rate of pay, and you can check your pay slip too.

What can go wrong?

Most employers pay their workers the correct amount, but mistakes can be made. We want to help employers get things right, and for you to be paid correctly.

Even with the right pay rate there are common mistakes that can result in apprentices not receiving the National Minimum Wage which can lead to you being underpaid. These include:

  • If you are aged 19 or over and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship – you must get the correct rate for your age group.
  • You must only be paid the apprentice rate of at least £5.28 an hour once you start your apprenticeship and not after it ends. Many apprentices stay on in a job with their employer once the apprenticeship is completed, but at this point you must receive at the least the National Minimum Wage for your age.
  • Apprentice training or study time is working time so you must be paid accordingly. All your training time must be paid no matter whether this takes place at work, college, university or elsewhere - the training can even be outside normal working hours.

The two biggest reasons for minimum wage underpayment are unpaid working time and deductions:

  • Unpaid working time can happen if time is added to your normal paid hours. For example, time spent putting on/removing protective clothing, passing through security checks, or attending handovers between shifts.
  • Deductions include wage deductions or payments made for expenses connected with your job. This can include tools, uniform or equipment needed for your job.

What if I’m not sure?

You must receive at least the National Minimum Wage. HMRC is here to help support you and your employer to get things right.

If you think that you are not receiving the correct minimum wage:

  • Speak with your employer or tutor if you are happy to do so.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can always raise the issue with HMRC online at https://www.gov.uk/minimum-wage-complaint. This can be done any time - day or night.
  • You can also call Acas on 0300 123 1100 for confidential advice or the Labour Relations Agency in Northern Ireland on 03300 555 300. Translation services are available.

Don’t forget that there is plenty of free help and support available. Search ‘apprentice’ or ‘minimum wage’ on GOV.UK to find out more.

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