National Living Wage: what’s it all about?

A young person is wearing a heart t-shirt and holding a note. In the background are orange clouds and coins to represent the National Living Wage

Whether you’re looking for work or have just started a new job, it’s important to know your rights when it comes to getting paid. If you’re over 21, that means you should be being paid at least the National Living Wage. But what is the National Living Wage? How has the National Living Wage changed recently? Read on as we explain all you need to know and what to do if you think you’re being underpaid.

National Living Wage 2024 changes

National Living Wage is set by the government. It has recently undergone some changes. From 1st April 2024 the government introduced new rules meaning the National Living Wage must be paid to everyone over the age of 21. You’ll no longer have to be 23 years old to be entitled to the NLW, yay!

What is the National Living Wage in 2024?

The 2024 National Living Wage is £11.44 per hour. Anyone aged 21 or over should be paid at least this amount, other than those who are not eligible, answered in our next question. If you are under 21, you should be getting the National Minimum Wage, which differs depending on your age.

When does the National Living Wage go up?

The government issues a National Living Wage increase once a year in April.

Is there any reason why I wouldn’t get the National Living Wage?

You are not eligible for National Living Wage if you’re… 

  • Self-employed
  • On certain government schemes at pre-apprenticeship level
  • On a government employment programme to give you training or work experience
  • Related to your boss and living in the same house as them
  • Living in the same house as your employer – e.g. nannies and au pairs
  • Doing odd jobs for friends or neighbours
  • A member of the armed forces

What was the National Living Wage in 2023? How has it changed?

The NLW used to be only for those aged 23 years old and over. In 2023 the National Living Wage was £10.42 per hour. 

What is the difference between the National Living Wage and the Living Wage?

As well as the NLW, you may also have heard of the Living Wage… it’s confusing to say the least. But essentially, the NLW is set by the government and the Living Wage is set by the Living Wage Foundation – an organisation that campaigns for higher minimum wages to improve the lives of people on low incomes.  

The Living Wage for 2024 is £12 per hour and the London Living Wage is £13.15. Employers don’t have to pay the Living Wage but a lot of employers choose to. Unfortunately, employees aren’t entitled to the Living Wage.

I don’t think I’m being paid enough, what should I do?

If you don’t think you’re being paid the correct hourly rate for your age, talk to your employer. There may have been a mistake and they should sort it out straight away. It may feel awkward bringing this up with your boss but it’s important that you get what you deserve – take a look at our tips on how to ask for a pay rise for more advice on speaking to your employer about money.

If for whatever reason your employer is refusing to put your pay up, you can get free and confidential advice from the Acas helpline. They will be able to advise you on your legal rights and what steps you may need to take in order to get the money you’re entitled to. You can also make a complaint to HMRC about your employer – if HMRC finds you’ve been paid incorrectly, your employer must pay you the amount owed plus a fine to HMRC. 

At the end of the day, jobs come with a certain amount of life admin. No one likes life admin, it’s boring as hell. But if you know your rights and keep track of your payments, you’ll make sure you’re not missing out on money owed. 

Take a look at the rest of The Mix’s money advice and tips here.

Next Steps


Updated on 06-Jul-2022

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