National minimum wage

Susie MunroEditor's message: The national minimum wage has been a key policy area for successive governments since its introduction in 1999, with the current Conservative administration claiming that rate increases form an important part of its agenda to create a "higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare society".

The national minimum wage is enforced through a combination of financial penalties for non-payment and a policy of "naming and shaming" - the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy publicises cases where employers have deliberately breached the national minimum wage laws.

You should regularly check that you are paying the minimum wage to all your eligible workers. There is a risk of inadvertent breaches, for example if a salary sacrifice arrangement brings an employee's pay below the relevant national minimum wage rate. The appropriate rate generally depends on the age of the worker, although a separate rate applies for some apprentices.

The level of the minimum wage is reviewed each year, with the new rates traditionally taking effect on 1 October. From April 2017, the national minimum wage will be uprated on the same date as the national living wage.

Susie Munro, senior employment law editor

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