National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

Except in a narrow set of defined circumstances, everybody in work has a legal right to be paid.

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage Act (1998) set out the rights of workers and the obligations of employers. Rates are reviewed annually; the current rates are set out below. However, these rates are not the recommended rates for your role - you should always check to find out the proper rate for the job you are applying to do. BECTU's website publishes a number of recommended rates

National Living Wage

The government introduced the National Living Wage a minimum rate for 25s and older in April 2016. The current National Living Wage of £7.83 (effective 1 April 2018) applies to all workers over 25 years of age (except for those in the first year of an apprenticeship), and operates alongside the established National Minimum Wage. The government says that the new National Living Wage will be 'enforced as strongly as' the National Minimum Wage.

Living Wage Foundation Living Wage

For many campaigners and trade unions, national minimum wage levels are far too low and there is growing support for the Living Wage set by the Living Wage Foundation. In fact BECTU urges the employers it deals with to adopt the Living Wage as the lowest established rate. More than 3,500 employers across the UK observe Living Wage rates.

The Living Wage is reviewed each year from the beginning of November; the current hourly rates, applicable from 6 November 2017, are £8.75 outside London and £10.20 in London. 

What's the National Minimum Wage and the new National Living Wage - and who qualifies for it?

If you're aged 16 or over, you're entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for every hour you work. If you're aged 25 or over you're entitled to be paid at least the National Living Wage (NLW) for every hour you work. The Low Pay Commission reviews these rates each year. 

Current NMW rates from 1 April 2018:

  • £7.38 per hour 21-24 yrs old 
  • £5.90 per hour 18-20 yrs old 
  • £4.20 per hour - 16-17 yrs old
  • £3.70 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship.

NLW rate effective 1 April 2018

  • £7.83 per hour age 25+ (with the exception of first year apprentices).
The NMW and NLW are subject to increase in April each year. 

Good to know: Unfortunately in the media and entertainment industry, some employers exploit young people’s eagerness and enthusiasm, and try to get them to work without pay. Some of these employers even claim that the NMW does not apply in our sector. This is not true. The NMW applies in film, TV and theatre as much as in any other industry.

BECTU is against against unpaid work experience and unpaid internships and have worked with the NUS to lobby for better rights for students. We believe all students working in the industry should be paid fairly for their work.

Sometimes confusion can be created by the use of several different job titles. In September 2011, the government tried to clear this up, saying: "Entitlement to the NMW does not depend on a job title but on whether the arrangement they have with an organisation makes them a worker for NMW purposes. Where an individual is a worker - and no exemption applies – then they must be paid at least the NMW". 

Landmark case

In 2009 BECTU helped to secure a landmark judgement in an Employment Tribunal which established the right of a young crew member on a low-budget film to be paid the NMW. Other successful cases have followed but the need for action to protect  new entrants continues.

What should you do if an employer doesn’t pay you?

For more information on your right to at least the NMW, including advice on how to lodge a complaint if an employer refuses to pay you, visit Acas online or call the service on 0300 123 1100.

What extra help can unions provide?

If you're a member of BECTU but your employer won't pay you, contact the union first. BECTU has a constructive relationship with the HMRC, the body responsible for policing the NMW.

Last page update 1 April 2018.