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The National Minimum Wage (NMW) - 2015


The NMW was introduced in 1999 and at that time was £3.60 for an adult aged 22 or over Every Year the Low Pay Commission listens to many interest groups and make a recommendation about what the rate should be. The Government in turn consider their recommendations and agrees the rate which is implemented on 1st October each year.

    The current rates are:
  • Adult rate age 21 and over £6.50 per hour
  • Age 18/20 £3.79
  • Age 16/17 £3.15
  • Apprentice rate £2.73
    The rates for October 1st 2015 have already been announced and are:
  • Adult rate age 21 and over £6.70 per hour
  • Age 18/20 £5.30
  • Age 16/17 £3.87
  • Apprentice rate £3.30

The payment of the NMW is heavily policed and there is currently a fine of up to £20,000 for non compliance by employers. Additionally the Government publically name and shame all employers who are prosecuted. This is inevitably picked up by the national and local media, suffice to say it isnt good publicity

Sadly salons are high on the list of employers prosecuted.

In March 2015 another 70 employers were named,some had underpaid large numbers of staff. Sadly, one employer had only underpaid one member of staff by £160.


This area is particularly tricky.

Apprentices receive the 18 to 20 hourly rate when they have their 19th birthday.

The exception would be if they were 19 or over or are within 12 months of their 19th birthday upon appointment. In this case the 18-20 rate is payable 12 months after the date of their appointment.

However there are other issues relating to apprentices and the NMW detailed below


1. Minimum Wage and Level 3 apprentices

The Pay and Work Rights Helpline confirmed that:

“I can confirm that signing up for a new level separately from the original apprenticeship (signing up for a level 3 after completing the level 2) does mean that the level 3 is a new apprenticeship. What this means is that the £2.73 rate will apply for the first 12 months of the level 3 if the apprentice is already aged 19.” So it makes sense to offer apprentices an agreement for level 2 and make no mention whatsoever about level 3.

At the end of their level 2 apprenticeship firstly you can filter out the better candidates and offer them a NEW apprenticeship for level 3. There is no requirement for there to be a break in service between the 2 contracts.

I would point out that many salons do pay a higher rate to level 3 apprentices.

2. Should an Apprentice be Paid for the Hours Spent at College?

Anyone on a registered apprenticeship which has a college study requirement should be paid for the hours which they are studying at college, even if this is an evening class. Hence if the apprenticeship course require one day attendance at college each week, and the college day last 6 hours, the apprentice should be paid for those 6 hours – although lunch and any other breaks do not have to be paid.

David Wright Personnel

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