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 stating 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.

Even if the rates that you pay appear to be significantly higher than the national minimum wage, you should still check that you are not inadvertently breaching the law. Be aware, for example, that a salary sacrifice arrangement might bring an employee's pay below the relevant national minimum wage rate.

The level of the minimum wage is reviewed each year, with the new rates traditionally taking effect on 1 October. From next year, the national minimum wage will be uprated from April instead.

Susie Munro, senior employment law editor

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