Minimum Wage for 16-18 Year olds

The minimum wage for workers aged 16-18 is £4.55 (April 2020-21)
For workers, aged 18-20 is currently £6.45 (April 2020-21)

Readers Question: What are the minimum wage rates for 16, 17 and 18-year-olds. Should the minimum wage be increased?  Should there be a minimum wage rate for children under 16?

Minimum Wage Rates from April 2020

  • £8.72 –  25 and over
  • £8.20 – Age 21-24
  • £6.45 – Age 18-20
  • £4.55 – Under 18
  • £4.15 – Apprentice rate. (An apprentice means the firm has to devote a certain time to training the worker. Traditionally apprentices get lower pay to compensate the firms’ cost of training them.

Can 13, 14, and 15-year-olds get a minimum wage rate?

No, the minimum wage rate only applies to workers who are 16 and above.

The youngest age your child can work part-time is 13 years old, with the exception of children involved in: television, drama, film. [1. Child employment Direct gov]

Do young workers benefit from a national minimum wage?


Benefits of Min Wage

  • A minimum wage is an effective tool for increasing wages of the lowest paid group of workers.
  • Since the minimum wage has been introduced in 1997, unemployment has fallen, suggesting fears over real-wage unemployment have been misplaced.
  • Minimum wages can increase labour productivity. Workers can feel more motivated with higher wages (efficiency wage theory). Also, if firms have to pay more, then they have an incentive to invest in workers and capital to increase labour productivity.
  • In an era of low real wage growth, the minimum wage has played an increasing role in causing higher living standards.

Concerns over minimum wage

  • An argument advanced is national minimum wage increases costs for firms and this can discourage employment opportunities. If the minimum wage rate rises too fast, it could cause unemployment in the future.
  • The gap between workers under 18 and over 25 means that firms have a cost incentive to substitute older workers for younger workers. In labour intensive industries (e.g. fast food) firms may prefer to give longer hours to the youngest workers because they are nearly 50% cheaper than mature workers.
  • Blackmarket. Another issue is that a legal minimum may encourage firms to pay young workers in cash and avoid legal restrictions.
  • Regional inequality of wages. A national minimum wage can cause unemployment in the northeast (where wages are low) but have little effect in London, where wages are higher.

Does a minimum Wage encourage Labour market Participation?

  • In theory, increasing the minimum wage for 16-18 year old workers would increase the incentive to join the labour market because work will become more attractive compared to studying at school and not earning.
  • However, the minimum wage for 16 and 17 year-olds is still relatively low. It is £4.20 for people under 18. Therefore, the benefit of working on the minimum wage may still seem insignificant compared to the benefits from studying and getting qualifications which will enable higher lifetime earnings.
  • Also, many 16 and 17  year-olds probably live rent free therefore there is not the same economic necessity to go out and get a job.
  • Personally, I think the effect of a minimum wage for 16-18 year olds is relatively insignificant, I can’t think of many students who would give up A-levels just so that they could go and work in McDonald’s for £4.20 an hour.
  • What is most likely is that there will be an increase in the participation of young workers doing part-time jobs in addition to studying full time.

Case for Increasing the Minimum Wage Rate

  • Unfair firms can pay a lower wage rate to young workers doing the same job as people over 21.
  • Efficiency Wage Theory – the idea if you pay a higher wage, you will get greater motivation and labour productivity.

Problems of Increasing the Minimum Wage Rate for young workers

  1. Could lead to unemployment and fewer job opportunities. Many firms may be unwilling to employ workers if there is a significant increase in the minimum wage rate. This would particularly affect labour-intensive industries like hairdressers and cafes.
  2. Arguably young workers lack experience, and so firms need to spend time and money on training them. Therefore a lower minimum wage rate is justified to pay for the costs of on-the-job training.

How Does the UK compare to other countries?

The UK minimum wage compares well compared to other countries like the US, Spain and Portugal, but still lower than some EU countries. International minimum wage rates

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237 thoughts on “Minimum Wage for 16-18 Year olds”

  1. i was wondering if students age 14-15 doing 2 week work experience in year 10 should thye get paye dor not or atleast get something for reward what u say ?

  2. This is so stupid! I’m 13 and i want a part time job to get to know what it’s like working and also to earn a little bit of extra cash so i can go out with my friends. But to be honest, i’m not sure if it’s worth it anymore. I read on a different website that you could earn UP to £3 an hour. I couldn’t buy anything for that. I am hardworking and would try my hardest at my job but for £3 an hour it sounds like they are expecting some really RUBBISH work. I dunno if it’s really worth it?

  3. I work 42-46hours i week and i’m on £3.64 an hour and i work as a receptionist,and then there’s other staff that are 18 that work same hours as me and come out with £280 a week when i’m only earning £150 a week. I pay board, so i don’t see why a person at 17 should get paid any less that a 18 year old. The goverment think were mature enough and responsibe enough to work, but were on a wage this low.

  4. I worked as a paperboy from 13-14 for £25 a week. When i was still 14 I got promoted to actually work in the shop and am on £5 an hour 🙂


  6. Ok i’m 19 and i work at a home bargains and everyone (16-60+) gets £5.93 per hour.

    To be honest all the kids under 16 shouldn’t have a ‘proper job’, (A, because you do not have to look after yourself, your parents are there to look after you as you get a good education, therefore feed, cloth, and keep a roof over your head. B, you can get a paper round and earn some pocket money (I did this myself). C, but you can always try volunteering at a charity shop on a saturday to gain experience (Again i did this myself)….do not expect to be straight on tills, you need to work up your responsibility and employers need to know that they can trust you!!!!
    (Once you have got some experience within a charity then potential employers might think that you have enough responsibility and that they may think you are a good candidate. This may only lead to an interview, but it’s a step in the right direction to get you confident with interviews and speaking to potential empolyers)

    I am not going to say all this will definitely get you a job, because, at this present time, jobs are very hard to come by. I personally only have only 3 valid gcse’s and was jobless for 6-7 months last year. Younger people are finding it a lot tougher because older, more experienced people are getting the jobs (again stability for the employer to know that they know what they are doing and they have probably done the same type of job before).
    All I can really advise you to do is if you are 13-15, try paper round, or try B+Bs as a chamber person (tidying up the beds, changing sheets, hoovering, polishing etc), but as a 13-15 year old you won’t get a ‘proper job’ because employers are not insured to take you on, (basically if you have an accident then they are in big trouble)
    16+year olds – again all I can advise you to do is go round your town/city centre and any other shopping parks you can get to by buses/walking/biking, and just constantly go into shops, or hotels etc and ask if they have any jobs, and ask if you could leave your CV for future job opportunities. Hopefully you will get some call backs and hopefully a chance of an interview.


  7. hi i just got the sack not so long ago i was 17 and as every other 17 year old or 16 need a job for many this small things even though transport is on there mind to get a car or bike witch both are out of the question as the insurance is too much. i worked as a fabricator doing lots of steel work and annoying jobs like tiding up alot i rarly got a good job such as technical work such as welding ect i got payed 3.50 an hour then a better lad came along same age as me and knocked my hourly rate down to 3.00 i was annoyed but there was nothing i could do or say reason for me loosing that 50p was because he had way way mare experience than me in the job and while he took all my good jobs i was practically the cleaner i worked from 8.00am to 7.00pm the hours where good i worked as long as i wanted being because the boss was a work alcoholic so some times i worked from 8am till 10pm even though the money was crap i got good hours i worked my arse off and was able to offord my honda cbr 125 it took 6 months too offord saving as much i can and using as little as 20pound going out money i saved around £1300 and bought my bike for that much i was then sacked after christmas all because i didt come in on the christmas holidays i never got bank holiday pay or christmas pay neither did i get any bonuses dont think that this guy didt have the money too because he did he was very wealthy own 60acres of land 50 horses and lots of veichles the list goes on am angry because it took me so long to work for my bike because of the crap hourly rate and the way i was treated as if i was cheap labour i live in england not thai land where there conditions are just as bad, thank you for reading

  8. i just wish to reply to amy by saying that kids 16 less or older should have a proper job i am in the building industry worst hit by the credit crunch kids looking for jobs like mine for instants such as plumbing fabricating(metal work) need this kind of job to get the skill they need this kind of work isnt easy yes they need to work hard to gain respect and responsibilitie but also in the mean time get taught and shown how all this works or the next person putting in a new boiler in your house could be a ticking time bomb or the next extention on your house could fall all the way through to your living room all because they didt get shown how to fit the pipes properly all because they didt get shown that they need a steel gurder to take all the weight off the house and to keep it secure. hair dressing banking working in a shop pub teacher all easy jobs they take no skill just a trim here chuck money there pick up move plates and cups around they are easy jobs banking takes a bit of math but all a banker realy is, is either a thief or is just a cashier jobs such as mine like plumbing or a doctor takes skill both jobs are dangerouse and can kill someone sooner there are mare jobs such as these people as young as me will have at least 5 years experience or litte less by the time there 20 years of age i just wanna say not disrespect but kdis as old as 15 need jobs such as these, thankyou

  9. my sister is 17 an gets called into work when shes need an shes only getting payed 10 pound a day. even if she does a 8 hr shift.
    is this wrong an who would she have to speak to to sort it out

  10. In response to Aaron’s comment, i think perhaps he should have stayed at school a little longer to improve his spelling before “knocking” those that have jobs like “just hairdressing” or “just banking”, (of which there is a lot of skill in both!) Youngsters working for peanuts (which is what this topic was originally about).The fact that they are working, instead of sitting on their bums all day, scrounging of the govenment is better than not! How disrespectful………

  11. hi, i am 16years old and leave school in may, i was just wondering if i can work in tesco whilst i am still at school, as there is a job opening!


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