Statutory Workers’ Rights in the UK consist of a robust set of protected rights, set out by the government. The National Minimum Wage is the most well-known statutory right – but it hasn’t always been around!
The National Minimum Wage came into force in the UK in 1998. At that time, it was agreed at £3.60/hr for adults aged 23 and over. Prior to this, only certain unionised sectors had a minimum wage in place. It now stands at £8.91/hr, as of April 2021 and is set to rise again soon. It is important to note that this figure represents the GROSS minimum wage. Other deductions will come off from this, such as tax and National Insurance, creating your NET pay.
The National Minimum Wage protects an employee from being exploited and protects against unlawful deductions. This ties in nicely with the right to pay slips which itemise your deductions per pay packet and Year To Date (YTD). Income tax, National Insurance, Pension, Student Loan, Child Maintenance and Final Salary Deductions may be made only if agreed in the original contract, or in an amendment to contract agreed by both parties.
It is critical to note that whilst these deductions are taken off your payslip by your employer, that they are, mostly, only doing this on behalf of authorities, for whom they area acting as an agent. They are taken off and subsequently passed directly on to agencies such as HMRC, pension providers, Student Finance England or through Child Maintenance agreements. The employer cannot keep any part of these payments, nor are they able to make any administration charges, to employees, in respect of their collection.
You should also be very much aware of your tax bracket and of your tax code(s). You should know that your tax code isn’t unique to you as a person; rather, you will have a tax code that is unique to every job you have. This comes into major play when you have more than one job, or when you leave a position without the relevant documents.
If you feel that you are paying an exorbitant amount of income tax – take some time to look up your tax code for that employment. Does it start with a W? This means that you are paying your tax as though you make that amount every pay packet. If you are in a position where your wage fluctuates month to month or week to week, this may result in you paying a great deal more tax than you need to! Always be wary of the dreaded E tax code as well. This denotes Emergency Tax, which does not grant you a personal tax-free allowance – currently your first £12,570. This situation usually arises from a new employer not being provided with either a P45 from your former employer, which states that you have finished working for them, or a P46 from yourself, which states that this is now your only source of income.
Examples of unlawful deductions can also worm their way onto your pay packet and cause you financial woes. Examples of these can be unpaid bonuses, unpaid or underpaid commissions, untaken holiday pay, delayed wage payments and unpaid overtime if you are on an hourly rate. Be sure to read each pay slip carefully to make sure everything is in order!
Here are some examples of the minimum wage around the world:
Belgium: €1,593.81 per month
Canada: CAD $11.32 – $16 per hour, depending on province
Czech Republic: 87.30 koruna per hour
El Salvador: USD $304.17 per month
Hong Kong: HK $37.50
New Zealand: NZD $20 per hour
USA: $7.25 per hour
Kuwait: 60 Kuwaiti dinars per month
If you don’t know all the different currencies and how they compare to the UK’s minimum wage – why not spend some time looking them up for comparison!
Blog author: Mary-Jo Appaqaq
Work-Based Learning Officer
0203 500 0239 ext. 133