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The law relating to minimum wage and working time relates to workers as well as employees.
Currently the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is £5.93 for adults of 21 and over £4.92 for 18 – 20 year olds and £3.64 for 16 and 17 year olds. Apprentices are entitled to £2.50 per hour, subject to some restrictions.
Some workers are excluded. You are not entitled to minimum wage if you are self employed, a resident worker (e.g. au pair, resident home help etc) or a trainee on most government training schemes.
However, agency workers, some apprentices, some home workers and carers and workers “on-call” are covered.
In the same way as workers are entitled to NMW, they are protected by the Working Time Regulations (WTR). The Regulations were introduced on health and safety grounds and include the right to work no more than a 48 hour week, to 28 days paid holiday per annum (which can include Bank Holidays) and to rest breaks.
Most workers are now covered by the WTR and cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours per week. However, you will be excluded if you work for the Armed Forces or Police; work offshore; work in civil aviation, merchant shipping, road transport or in sea fishing. There are also special rules relating to young workers.
You can “opt out” of the 48 hour limit but the "opt out" must be agreed in writing and you have the right to cancel the agreement.
You are entitled to a minimum of 28 days holiday (which can include Bank Holidays), and pro rata if you do not work full time. Your employer cannot pay you in lieu except at the termination of your employment if you have not taken your full holiday entitlement. However, your employer can require you to take your holiday before you leave. You have no right to carry holiday forward into the next year.
You are entitled to be paid whilst on holiday and your pay is calculated based on normal working hours. Overtime does not have to be taken into account.
The WTR make provision for daily rest, weekly rest and rest breaks during the working day. Workers of 18 and over are entitled to a break of not less than 20 minutes for every 6 hours of work. For younger workers it is 30 minutes for every 4 ½ hours working time.
The above is a general overview of the Working Time Regulations and rights to the National Minimum Wage. Calculations of those entitlements can be complicated if you are a shift worker, part time worker, or work irregular hours
If you require any further assistance, please contact Marina Vincent on 020 8422 5678.