The Minimum Wage

Anecdotally you could be forgiven for believing that there is no minimum wage or that it varies greatly.

People will seem to quote all sorts of different pay rates they get, and are often genuinely confused when it comes to working out what they get and multiplying up casual work and a day here and there in to how much they ended up getting paid.

The key to understanding the minimum wage is that it boils down to a paid-per-hour figure that is the minimum you must be paid legally in the UK for that hour of work - if someone offers to pay you less or actually pays you less, then you can know that they are breaking the law.

The government says that if you are 22 years old or more, then you must get paid at least £5.52 an hour, and it doesn't matter what the job you do is at all whether you are in the chicken factory or a high flying city exec.

In order to calculate your hourly rate (often in full time jobs you will get quoted on an annual salary basis) then you just divide your gross pay for any period - e.g. a month - by how many hours you worked in that period, and if the result is under £5.35 then you are being paid less than the minimum wage.

A very common query is with regard to those under 22 - can they be paid whatever an employer wants?

No, if you are 18-21 you must get at least £4.60 an hour, and those who are 16-17 at least £3.40 an hour.

Figures correct as of October 2007.

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