The national minimum wage: new rates and legal responsibilities

The government’s phasing in of the new national living wage between 2016 and 2020 will substantially increase the wage bill faced by small businesses. Whatever the national minimum wage (NWM), as a business owner it’s vitally important you keep up-to-date with changes to your legal responsibilities as failure to comply with wage legislation can be extremely costly.

What are the current national minimum wage rates?

April 2017 saw the NMW for adults over 25 years old rise by 30p to £7.50 per hour, while adults aged between 21 and 24 must now be paid at least £7.05 per hour.

A full breakdown of the 2017 NMW changes can be found in the table below.



25 and over

21-24 years old

18-20 years old

Under 18


April 2017






October 2016 – March 2017






What do we know about the future NMW?

Former Chancellor George Osborne announced plans in his 2015 Budget to increase the minimum wage to £9 per hour by 2020. However, the government is yet to confirm by how much the NMW will rise in 2018 and 2019 – or indeed whether the £9 figure touted by Osborne remains a priority for Theresa May’s government (or any future government following the general election).

At the present, all we know is the Low Pay Commission will continue to recommend future movements in the NMW. Expect an announcement in at the government’s next fiscal statement.

Your legal responsibilities

Failing to comply with NMW legislation carries serious consequences. Businesses prosecuted in a magistrates’ court can face fines up to £20,000 per offence, while fines more serious legal breaches tried in crown courts are unlimited.

Prosecutable wage offences include:


    • wilful failure to pay the NMW


    • failing to maintain the appropriate wage records


    • keeping false wage records


    • delaying or attempting to prevent a compliance officer from investigating your activities


    • refusing to provide information to a compliance officer.

Contact us

Our team can manage your payroll for you, giving you more time to focus on what matters most: developing your business.

Contact us on 01628 631 056 or email for more information about our payroll services.