The National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage in the UK apply to workers in Northern Ireland. These minimum wage rates are the hourly rate that workers should be paid by their employers depending on their age or whether they are an apprentice.
National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates change every April. The current minimum wage rates are in effect from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
Minimum wage rates
The minimum wage rates for 2020-21 are:
|Age||Minimum Wage Rates from April 2020|
|25 years old and over||£8.72|
|21-24 years old||£8.20|
|18-20 years old||£6.45|
|16-17 years old||£4.55|
*Apprentices under the age of 19 years old or aged 19 years old or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £4.15 per hour (this rate does not apply to Higher Level Apprenticeships).
Apprentices are entitled to the minimum wage for their age if they are aged 19 years or over and have completed the first year of their apprenticeship.
For past minimum wage rates see National Minimum Wage: previous rates.
Who is entitled to be paid the minimum wage rate?
As an employer you have a legal obligation to pay your workers the correct minimum wage rate at the very least. Ensure you understand who must be paid the minimum wage. Some people like the self-employed are not entitled to the minimum wage. For more guidance see self-employed and the minimum wage and National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage - who is not entitled to it.
Employer requirements for the minimum wage
If a worker is entitled to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, you must pay them at least the rate they are entitled to for the hours of work that qualify. You cannot make an agreement with a worker to pay them less than the minimum wage rate.
Which minimum wage rate applies to a worker?
You need to know which minimum wage rate applies to a worker - based on their entitlement at the start of each pay reference period. The minimum wage rate that applies to a worker is the rate they are entitled to on the first day of the pay reference period. For more information about pay reference periods see National Minimum Wage and Living Wage pay reference period.
Minimum wage rate example
For example, at age 20 a worker is entitled to the 18 to 20 years old minimum wage rate. From the first pay reference period starting on or after their 21st birthday, they become entitled to the 21 to 24 years old minimum wage rate. If you pay them for a pay reference period ending on a Friday and their birthday is on the following Wednesday - they will be entitled to the 21 to 24 years old minimum wage rate from the Saturday after their birthday.
As the minimum wage rates are age related, you may need to ask workers to provide proof of their age.
Minimum wage rates for agricultural workers
Minimum wage rates for agricultural workers in Northern Ireland are different from the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates. These minimum wage rates for agricultural workers are set by the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) for Northern Ireland. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) provides further information on the agricultural rates of pay, orders and reports.
The minimum wage rates for agricultural workers in 2019-20 and the proposed minimum wage rates for 2020-21 that are due to take effect from 1 April 2020 are:
|Agricultural worker grade||Current rates (per hour)||Proposed rates from April 2020|
|Grade 1 (minimum rate)||£6.88||£6.88|
|Grade 2 (standard worker)||£7.42||£7.42|
|Grade 3 (lead worker)||£8.40||£8.82|
|Grade 4 (craft grade)||£9.03||£9.49|
|Grade 5 (supervisory grade)||£9.51||£9.99|
|Grade 6 (farm management grade)||£10.32||£10.84|
Where at any time the National Minimum Wage becomes higher than the hourly rate set out above, the minimum rate will become equal with the National Minimum Wage.
Structure your business
Name your business
Register your business
Choose your premises
- How to employ staff for the first time
- National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates
- Carry out pre-employment checks
- Ensure your workers are eligible to work in the UK
- Get employers' liability insurance
- The written statement
- Set up your payroll and register for PAYE with HMRC