BEIS call for greater wage awareness

2 mins read

Nearly a third (32%) of workers aged 16-24 incorrectly think that only people in permanent roles are entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage (NMW), according to a poll published this week.

The news comes a week after the National Living Wage (NLW) rose to £8.21 an hour and younger workers saw above-inflation increases to the NMW rates. Today (8 April) also marks the start of new legislation that entitles all workers to a payslip – closing a loophole to ensure that those who previously were not eligible to one now are.

Workers aged 25 and over are legally entitled to at least the NLW; those aged under 25 are entitled to the NMW. The rate increases, which came into force on 1 April, are expected to benefit around 2.1 million people, and will see full-time workers earning NMW receive an extra £690 per year.

From 8 April, all workers, including those on zero-hours and casual work, are legally entitled to a payslip. If paid hourly, the payslip will show how many hours they have worked and make it easier for employers to check they are being paid correctly. Around 290,000 people will now receive payslips where they previously did not.

It is compulsory for employers to pay the correct wage rate. Employers are breaking they law if they don’t pay at least the NMW and can be fined up to twice the total wage shortfall, up to a maximum of £20,000 per worker.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is encouraging all workers to check their payslips. Their survey, of over 2000 workers aged between 16 and 64, explored awareness of NMW rates and understanding of payslips.

It found that although nearly all (99%) people who received and checked their payslip understood at least some of it, under two-thirds (62%) understood all of it. There is a gender divide here as well – 70% of men across Great Britain understand all sections of their payslip, compared to just over half (55%) of women.

The survey also found some startling conclusions around workers’ confidence in approaching their employer to make sure they are getting the right amount of pay. Over one in ten (13%) of 16-24-year-olds said they were not confident about approaching their employer to query pay, compared to 6% of over-55s.

“It is really important that people are engaged with their money and understand their wages,” said Andrew Johnson, advice manager at the Money and Pensions Service. “The changes to the NLW and NMW are a positive step towards this.”

The Money Advice Service website contains a guide to help workers understand their payslip, which can be found at