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

On 1 April 1999, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) was introduced and set minimum hourly wage rates for those aged between 18 and 21 and for those over 22.  

On 1 October 2004 another band was introduced for 16-17 year olds.  

On 1 October 2010 the higher band was extended to include 21 year olds and the apprentice rate was introduced.  

On 1 April 2016 the 21+ band was capped at aged 24 and another level for workers aged 25+, the National Living Wage (not to be confused with the voluntary Living Wage) was introduced.

You must be at least school leaving age to get the National Minimum Wage or aged 25 to get the National Living Wage.  The current rates are:

Band Rate wef 1 Apr 2019
Apprentice £3.90
Under 18 £4.35
18 to 20 £6.15
21 to 24 £7.70
25 and over £8.21

The voluntary Living Wage was introduced in 2001 and is an independently set rate of pay for employees aged 18+.  There are two rates – one for London (currently £9.40 ph) and another for the rest of Britain (currently £8.25 ph).


Bishop Fleming Payroll Services can help you to make sure that you are paying your staff at the correct rate.


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