As a small business owner, you always want to stay on the right side of the law. In fact, the future of your business depends on it, but you’re also unlikely to have the time, knowledge or experience to focus on compliance.
And when it comes to employee wages, you’ve got to strike that perfect balance between paying your team competitively and keeping your business afloat during turbulent economic times.
In this blog, I’ll take you through my knowledge of the Minimum Wage in the UK, in 2023. In it, we cover:
- What the UK Minimum Wage is;
- Who the Minimum Wage applies to;
- What the law is around paying employees the Minimum Wage;
- Why and when the UK Minimum Wage increases.
Use the links below to jump to your preferred section or keep reading.
What is the UK Minimum Wage?
- What is the Living Wage? (And how does it differ from the Minimum Wage?)
- What is the Minimum Wage in the UK in 2023?
- How often does the Minimum Wage increase?
- Why did the Minimum Wage increase in 2023 in the UK?
- Minimum Wage UK 2023 - useful links
- Can Charlie help you with the UK Minimum Wage?
Through my role at Charlie, I’ve advised hundreds of small companies on how to comply with employment law and created policies that set their business up for success. I know how to successfully protect both your business’ interests and your employees’ rights, and understand how difficult it can be to find the right information.
What is the UK Minimum Wage?
The National Minimum Wage (also referred to as UK Minimum Wage or the Minimum Wage) is the lowest wage level that UK employers can legally pay their employees.
The UK Minimum Wage applies to anyone aged between 16-22, or who is an apprentice. The rate of pay depends on how old the employee is, so the Minimum Wage for an 18-year-old in the UK will be less than someone who is 21 or 22.
The rates also change annually, so the Minimum Wage in the UK in 2023 is different to what it was last year or the year before. The Minimum Wage rates are decided and set by the government.
The Minimum Wage is for all employees up to the age of 22, and after that, the National Living Wage must be applied.
What is the Living Wage? (And how does it differ from the Minimum Wage?)
The National Living Wage (also referred to as the UK Living Wage or the Living Wage) applies to all employees aged 23 or over. Like the UK Minimum Wage, the UK Living Wage is decided and set by the government.
So in the UK, we have two minimum wage rates:
- The Living Wage, for anyone aged 23 or older;
- And the Minimum Wage, for anyone aged 16-22, or who is an apprentice.
The UK Living Wage differs from the UK Minimum Wage because it’s a higher rate of pay. It’s regarded as the necessary minimum income for an employee to meet their basic needs.
As the majority of working people are aged 23+, in reality, the Living Wage is the minimum wage rate for most employees in the UK.
In October 2023 (exact date still TBC), the new National Living Wage rates for 2023-24 will be announced. UK employers will then have six months to apply these new rates.
Note: The UK Living Wage should not be confused with the ‘real Living Wage’ (a movement of businesses, organisations and people), which is based on the cost of living and is voluntarily paid by over 13,000 UK businesses.
What is the Minimum Wage in the UK in 2023?
The Minimum Wage increased in 2023, in the UK, on April 1st, and the current Living Wage rate is £10.42 per hour.
The National Minimum Wage rates in 2023 for the UK are as follows:
Note: We’ll update the table with the new Minimum Wage rates for 2024, so bookmark this page and refer back to it at the end of October 2023 to find out what they are.
How often does the Minimum Wage increase?
The Minimum Wage rates change on April 1st every year. The new rates are typically announced the prior October, giving employers six months to implement the new minimum rate of pay for each of their employees.
Why did the Minimum Wage increase in 2023 in the UK?
The Minimum Wage increased in 2023, and increases every year, primarily because of inflation. Everything costs more when inflation goes up, so the Minimum Wage must also increase.
An increase in the Minimum Wage is to help working people afford the increase in the cost of goods and services.
Due to the cost of living crisis and increased economic uncertainty, current estimates are that the National Living Wage will have to increase to between £10.90 and £11.43 in 2024 to meet its target.
This target is set by the government, and is for the Living Wage to reach two-thirds of median hourly pay by October 2024.
Minimum Wage UK 2023 - useful links
We’ll update this page every year with the new wage rates, so bookmark it for an easy and reliable reference for the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage.
In addition, information on GOV.UK can be hard to find, so here are links to the sections you’re likely to need or want to share with your employees:
How can Charlie help you with the UK Minimum Wage?
At Charlie, we’re experts at protecting business interests and employee rights at the same time. And we empower small business owners through our advice, support and software.
Charlie’s HR Advice
Our HR Advice is a bespoke service that helps small companies and startups, and provides one-to-one, expert support whenever it’s needed.
Charlie’s HR Advice can help in many different scenarios relating to Minimum Wage. For example:
- Your dedicated advisor will help you come up with a compensation plan that is fair and compliant, as well as attractive for candidates.
More generally, your advisor can:
- support you in difficult employee situations (grievances, redundancies, disciplinary hearings, etc.) to make the right business decisions while treating people fairly;
- audit your business and processes, flagging up anything that needs updating, reviewing, or creating from scratch to meet legal requirements;
- review your employment contracts to ensure they are meeting legal requirements and protecting your business;
- create new policies that are bespoke to your company and its operations.
Charlie’s HR software
Our software is designed to make HR effortless for small business owners, and that extends to anything linked to the Minimum Wage. So it will help you by:
- Automating data collection for all new hires, so you’re guaranteed to meet legal requirements when it comes to their ‘Right to Work’ checks
- Storing all employee data safely and securely: only those granted permission have access, and our ISO 27001 certification means the data is also protected from cyber attacks and leaks
- Calculating annual leave allowances so that you can manage absences easily and effectively — the system does the heavy lifting and eliminates the potential for human error.
With Charlie, you’ll automate your HR processes and get employment law advice from an expert advisor who understands small business.
“As someone who manages a small business Charlie HR removes a ton of hassle from both onboarding employees, and then keeping all of their essential information securely on file in one place. It's a massive time saver, and I've come to depend upon it.”
- Nick Brackenbury, Trustpilot review