Minimum wage in the United Kingdom? What you need to know.

Zorica Lončar

If you’re thinking of moving to the UK or getting your first job there, you’ll need to know about the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage. This is the minimum you can be paid per hour, according to the law.

However, the minimum wage in the UK changes every year, and there are different minimum rates for different age groups and types of workers. So to make it easy to understand what pay you’ll be entitled to, we’ve put together a handy guide to the minimum wage in the UK.

So, let’s get started.

What’s the minimum wage in the UK?

There are two types of UK minimum wage you need to know about. These are:

  • The National Living Wage - which applies to workers over 23 years old.
  • The National Minimum Wage - which applies to workers over school leaving age (16 years old) but under 23 years old

The National Living Wage for 2021-2022 is £8.91 per hour, but it’s set to rise to £9.50 from April 2022¹.

The National Minimum Wage is a little more complicated, as there are different rates for workers in different age groups. We’ll look at the current rates for each in just a moment.

Who determines minimum wages?²

Minimum wage rates are set each year by the UK Government, but are based on the recommendations of an independent advisory group called the Low Pay Commission (LPC).

The LPC bases the advice it gives to the Government on factors such as how many people are in work, how earnings have increased/decreased and the cost of essentials such as housing and food.

When was the last increase in the UK minimum wage?

UK Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates are reviewed every year. It last increased in April 2021, and the current rate will last until the end of March 2022.

Here’s a quick look at how the National Living Wage has changed over the last few years:

Date of increaseNational Living Wage (per hour)Increase from previous year
1st April 2020³£8.726.2%
1st April 2021⁴£8.912.2%
1st April 2022¹£9.506.6%

Does the minimum wage differ by age in the UK?

We’ve looked at the National Living Wage, which applies to all workers over the age of 23 years old. But now we move on to the National Minimum Wage, which applies to workers under this age threshold. And crucially, this has different rates depending on which age group you fall into.

Here’s are UK minimum wage rates for 2022, broken down by age group¹:


Current NMW rate

NMW rate from 1st April 2022

16-17 years old



18-20 years old



21-22 years old



Is there a different minimum wage for apprenticeships or internships?

There’s also a set hourly minimum wage for apprentices in the UK. These are young people either under 19 years old, or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

The national minimum wage rate for apprentices is currently £4.30, rising to £4.81 in April 2022¹.

What’s the living wage in the United Kingdom? How much can you really get by on?

The National Living Wage for workers over 23 years old is designed to be broadly in line with the costs of living in the UK.

However, there is also such a thing as the ‘Real Living Wage’. This is a voluntary wage that employers can choose to offer, and it’s currently paid by nearly 9,000 UK employers⁵. Set by the Living Wage Foundation charity, this rate more closely reflects the real cost of living in the UK.

It’s currently set at £9.90 per hour, and £11.05 per hour for workers living in London where everyday costs are higher⁵.

If you’re consider getting a job in the UK, you can use this handy hourly wage calculator to estimate your take-home pay from an hourly rate.

Compared to other countries, is the minimum wage in the UK good?

The UK compares quite well with other countries when it comes to the National Living Wage, although there are some countries that can beat it.


National Minimum Wage (hourly, in GBP)




Varies by state and sector - from £5.33 to £11.26⁶







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And that’s pretty much it - everything you need to know about the UK National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage, all in one handy guide.

We’ve covered the current rates for all age groups, including recent increases and how it compares to the ‘Real Living Wage’ in the UK.

So after reading this, you should have a better idea of what to expect from your first UK pay packet.

1. - minimum wage rates for 2022
2. BBC - minimum wage
3. - the national minimum wage
4. - the national minimum wage 2021
5. - living wage
6. Big Issue - minimum wage UK and the rest of the world
7. Citizens Information - minimum rates of pay
8. - minimum wages
9. Welcome to France - increase of the minimum wage

Sources checked on 01-02-2022.

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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