National Minimum Wage increases 1 October: What you need to know.

National minimum wage (NMW) rates will increase on 1 October by between 3% and 4.7% for workers under the age of 25 and apprentices, and employers need to make sure the new rates are implemented for all hours worked from that date, but there are a number of compliance pitfalls for employers.

It isn’t just the headline rate that businesses need to be aware of. In many cases other factors need to be considered, and it is generally these issues which cause employers to fall foul of the legislation.

For example, where an employer requires an employee to provide their own uniform or piece of equipment, the cost should be taken into account when considering whether NMW has been paid.

Similarly, as seen in many of the recent high profile cases, it is important to understand what hours should actually be included as hours worked.

It could also be a simple administrative error such as not spotting that an employee has reached a milestone age which takes them up into the next rate.

HMRC has wide-ranging powers to conduct compliance checks and with the possibility of employees contacting the HMRC through the pay and work rights helpline, it is essential for employers to get it right.

Penalty risk

Unfortunately, even where the error is simply one of poor administration with no intent to short-change the employee, employers leave themselves open to substantial penalties and the likelihood of being named and shamed for failing to pay the NMW, with very few grounds for appeal, even where the total amount involved is very small – presenting a very real reputational risk to any business.

Last month the largest list to date of employers were ‘named and shamed’ for failing to pay their staff the NMW. With a number of high-profile cases hitting the headlines in recent weeks, employers need to be more aware than ever of the issues and pitfalls surrounding this area of employment legislation.

NMW distinction

It’s worth noting that the NMW is not to be confused with the National Living Wage (NLW) which was introduced in April 2016 for employees aged 25 and over.

 Guide to NMW rates

NMW: age/status
Current rate
New rate from October 2016
21 to 24 £6.70 £6.95 3.70%
18 to 20 £5.30 £5.55 4.70%
16 to 17 £3.87 £4.00 3.40%
Apprentices £3.30 £3.40 3.00%


With many pitfalls and severe repercussions for getting it wrong, employers should take care to review their systems to ensure compliance.

Published on: 29 September 2016 - By: CCH Daily

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