What is the Minimum Wage In Wales?

Kieran Doodi

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A man in a suit holding a sign that reads 'Minimum Wage' against a background with rising bar graphs and a global map.

In Wales, the minimum wage in 2023 varies by age: £10.42 for those 23 and over, £10.18 for ages 21-22, £7.49 for 18-20, £5.28 for under 18, and £5.28 for apprentices. In 2024, it will increase to £11.44 for those aged 21 and over, £8.60 for 18-20, and £6.40 for under 18 and apprentices. Different rates apply to younger workers and apprentices. These rates are not just numbers; they represent the legal baseline for earnings, impacting thousands across Wales.

Current Minimum Wage Rates in Wales

S. No.

Age Group

2023 Rate (£ per hour)

2024 Rate (£ per hour)

1 23 and over 10.42 11.44
2 21 to 22 10.18 11.44
3 18 to 20 7.49 8.60
4 Under 18 5.28 6.40
5 Apprentice 5.28 6.40

Overview of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW)

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) are crucial components of employment law in Wales. They ensure that workers receive a fair wage for their labour. The NMW is a minimum pay per hour most workers are entitled to by law, while the NLW, introduced in April 2016, is a higher rate for workers aged 23 and above.

Understanding NMW and NLW

The NMW and NLW are more than just wages; they are a safeguard against unduly low pay. The NMW varies by age and applies to most workers above school leaving age. The NLW, on the other hand, is a higher rate for older, more experienced workers. It’s important to note that these rates are updated annually, reflecting changes in living costs and economic conditions.

Purpose and Impact

The primary purpose of the NMW and NLW is to protect workers from low pay, promote fair competition among businesses, and increase the standard of living. By setting a wage floor, the government ensures a minimum standard of living for workers. This impacts not just individual workers, but the economy as a whole, as it can influence spending power and economic activity.

Current Rates for NMW and NLW

Understanding the specific rates of the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage is essential for both employers and employees. These rates are updated annually to reflect economic changes and living costs.

Rate Changes and Trends

It’s important to note the trends in these wage rates. Over the years, there has been a gradual increase, reflecting the government’s commitment to improving living standards. These changes are significant as they influence the broader economic landscape, affecting consumer spending and the cost of living.

Eligibility and Exemptions

The NMW and NLW apply to most workers, but there are specific eligibility criteria and exemptions. Understanding who is covered and who is not is key for both employers and employees.

Who is Eligible?

Generally, most workers over school leaving age are entitled to the NMW. This includes part-time, temporary, agency workers, and apprentices. For the NLW, workers must be aged 23 or over. It’s crucial for employers to correctly categorize their employees to ensure compliance with these regulations.

Exemptions and Special Cases

There are certain groups of people who are not entitled to the NMW or NLW. These include:

  • Self-employed individuals.
  • Volunteers or those on work experience.
  • Members of the armed forces.
  • Family members working in a family business, under certain conditions.
  • Workers on government pre-apprenticeship schemes.

It’s important for both employers and employees to be aware of these exemptions to avoid misunderstandings regarding wage entitlements.

Understanding the Apprentice Rate

The apprentice rate is a special consideration within the NMW framework, designed to support those at the start of their career journey.

Definition and Eligibility for the Apprentice Rate

The apprentice rate applies to:

  • Apprentices under 19 years of age.
  • Apprentices aged 19 or over who are in the first year of their apprenticeship.

After completing the first year of apprenticeship or reaching the age of 19, apprentices are entitled to the NMW or NLW rate corresponding to their age group.

The Importance of the Apprentice Rate

This special rate acknowledges the dual role of apprentices as both learners and workers. It balances the need for fair compensation with the recognition that apprentices are often gaining valuable skills and experience that will benefit their future careers.

Calculation of the Fair Piece Rate

The fair piece rate system is an important aspect of the NMW, particularly for workers paid per item produced or task performed.

Understanding the Fair Piece Rate

The fair piece rate is applicable to output work, where workers are paid based on the quantity of items produced or tasks completed, rather than the time spent. This rate ensures that workers on piece rates receive at least the minimum wage for every hour they work.

How is the Fair Piece Rate Calculated?

To calculate the fair piece rate, employers must:

  1. Determine the average rate of output for their workers.
  2. Ensure that the pay for the average output per hour is at least equal to the NMW or NLW.
  3. Apply an uplift of 20% to this rate. This means multiplying the NMW or NLW hourly rate by 1.2 to arrive at the fair piece rate.

This calculation is designed to protect workers from being paid unfairly low wages due to varying speeds of work.

Additional Pay Elements and NMW

Understanding what constitutes the NMW is crucial, particularly when it comes to additional pay elements such as overtime and bonuses.

Inclusions and Exclusions in NMW Calculations

When calculating the NMW, certain elements are included, while others are not. The key inclusions are:

  • Basic pay.
  • Incentives, bonuses, and performance-related pay.
  • The value of any accommodation provided by the employer, up to a specified limit.

However, several pay elements are excluded from NMW calculations:

  • Overtime payments.
  • Tips and gratuities.
  • Service charges.
  • Cover charges.
  • Benefits in kind (other than accommodation).

Impact of Pay Elements on NMW

It’s important for both employers and employees to understand these distinctions. Misunderstandings can lead to unintentional non-compliance with NMW regulations. Employers must ensure that the basic hourly rate, before any additions, meets the minimum wage requirements.

Record-Keeping and Compliance

Proper record-keeping is essential for employers to demonstrate compliance with the NMW and NLW regulations.

Essential Records for NMW Compliance

Employers must maintain accurate records to prove that they are paying their workers at least the minimum wage. While there is no prescribed format, the records should include:

  • Total hours worked by each employee.
  • Payments made to each employee.
  • Details of any deductions or payments for accommodation.

Duration and Importance of Keeping Records

It’s recommended that employers keep these records for at least six years. This practice is crucial not only for compliance but also for reference in case of disputes or inspections by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Demonstrating Compliance in Various Pay Structures

For employers who pay hourly, weekly, or monthly rates, demonstrating compliance is straightforward. However, it can be more challenging for those using piece rates or employing home-workers. In such cases, clear communication of the average hourly output and pay rates is necessary.

Worker Rights and Protections

Workers’ rights in relation to the NMW and NLW are a cornerstone of employment law in Wales, ensuring fair treatment and pay.

Access to Pay Records and Wage Disputes

Workers have the right to access their pay records and ensure they are being paid at least the minimum wage. If discrepancies arise, they are entitled to:

  • Request and review their pay records.
  • File a complaint with their employer or HMRC if they believe they are being underpaid.

Complaints and Legal Recourse

Workers can take the following steps if they suspect a breach of NMW regulations:

  1. Discuss the issue with their employer directly.
  2. Contact HMRC’s confidential helpline for advice and assistance.
  3. If unresolved, escalate the matter to an Employment Tribunal.

It is illegal for employers to penalize employees for asserting their rights to the NMW.

Support and Resources

Various resources and support systems are available to workers, including:

  • The HMRC confidential helpline for queries related to NMW.
  • Legal advice services for guidance on employment rights.

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Penalties for Non-Compliance

Adhering to the NMW and NLW regulations is not just a legal obligation for employers, but also a social responsibility. Failure to comply can result in significant penalties.

Understanding the Penalties

The penalties for not paying the NMW or NLW can be severe:

  • Employers can be fined up to 200% of the arrears owed to workers.
  • The maximum penalty is £20,000 per worker.
  • Penalties are reduced by 50% if the unpaid wages and the penalty are paid within 14 days.

Naming and Shaming of Non-Compliant Employers

The government periodically publishes a list of employers who fail to comply with NMW and NLW rules. This “naming and shaming” approach serves as a deterrent and highlights the importance of compliance.

Reasons for Non-Compliance

Common reasons for failing to meet minimum wage requirements include:

  • Misunderstanding which pay elements count towards NMW.
  • Deducting costs for uniforms or other work-related expenses.
  • Failing to account for all working hours, such as time spent training or traveling.


The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage are vital components of employment law in Wales, ensuring fair compensation for workers and promoting economic stability.

Summary of Key Points

  • The NMW and NLW rates vary depending on age and job status, with regular updates reflecting economic shifts.
  • While most workers are eligible, there are specific exemptions.
  • The apprentice rate and fair piece rate calculations cater to unique employment situations.
  • Accurate record-keeping is crucial for compliance and resolving wage disputes.
  • Workers have rights to access their pay records and seek recourse if underpaid.
  • Employers face significant penalties, including fines and public naming, for non-compliance.


Can part-time and temporary workers receive the National Living Wage (NLW)?

Yes, part-time and temporary workers aged 23 and over are eligible for the NLW, provided they meet other eligibility criteria. Their employment status does not affect their right to the NLW.

Does the National Minimum Wage (NMW) apply to interns and work experience participants?

This depends on the nature of the internship. If interns are classed as workers, then they are entitled to the NMW. However, interns or individuals on work experience placements with no obligation to perform work are generally not entitled to the NMW.

Are there different NMW rates for different regions in Wales?

No, the NMW and NLW rates are uniform across Wales and do not vary by region. However, employers should be aware of the living costs in their specific area.

How does sick leave affect NMW and NLW payments?

Workers are not entitled to the NMW or NLW for hours not worked, including sick leave. They will be paid according to their employment contract, which may be statutory sick pay or another agreed rate.

What are the rules regarding NMW and NLW for remote or home workers?

Remote or home workers who are classified as workers or employees are entitled to the NMW or NLW. Employers must ensure that their pay reflects the number of hours worked, regardless of the location.


  • Kieran Doodi

    Meet Kieran Doodi, a dynamic force in the world of writing, research, and analysis. As a seasoned writer, Kieran's pen weaves compelling narratives, effortlessly translating complex ideas into engaging stories that captivate readers.

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