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

More on

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

  1. Sucks to be all of you^^^

    I have just started a job (i’m 16) and i get paid 6.20 per hour. I work 15 hours a week. £93 per week and i overtime if i need it. Oh and i’m still in full time education.

  2. I think this is all wrong!
    I work for my dad who pays me £20 for 1 day!!!!
    I am 14 and i also have a job in a flower field….picking flowers! It’s back braking work and i get paid £2.50 an hour and i work out there from 6 in the morning till 6 in the evening with only 30 mins for lunch! This is all wrong people deserve to get a better wage no matter how old they are!
    It’s age discrimination if ya ask me!

  3. i’m nearly 17 years old, just got a job working at £4 an hour, my boyfriend already works at this place before i have and the amount of hours he did for 4 pound an hour was pathetic! because were so young employers like to take advantage and as for the government there idiots. oh under 18’s are not the ones that are at grave concern because they still live with there parents? but teenagers still need to pay for going out, food when going out, there own clothes, trains, cars, insurance (if 17 and over). it hard enough for a teenager to get a job but what if our parents do not have the funds to be able to pay for everything?. considering teenagers over 16 have to pay for adult fairs on buses, trains ect the amount of money and less jobs available it is any wonder why kids are dossing about. seriously.

  4. Those wages kinda suck, they really need to increase. I’m 19, haven’t even started Uni yet, and I’m earning £7.11 an hour from doing art for an iPhone game.

    Yup. You get alot more money from learning, it’s so much more beneficial.

  5. my daughter is 18 had work at a country pub since she was 15 she started out waitressing and now managers the place but she only get 4.92 tell me is this fair. she has alot of resposability but she does it.

  6. Well I am 17 and I got a job at a restuarant for the summer, I work 3-6 shifts a week and my shifts are about 8 hours a day. I get paid £6 and hour, I earn about £150-300 a week. I am more than happy with my wages thank god.

  7. I am 15 and I would really like a part-time job, to earn some money, and so I could put it on my CV, but everywhere I have looked there haven’t been any job opportunities because I live in such a rural area. Now I’m volunteering at my local library for a couple of hours a week, and I’m also volunteering at a local charity shop. I really enjoy it, but considering all the hours I put in, as well as school I would really like a proper job. (It’s good experience I suppose though.)

    • You cannot compare both of these! McDonalds is an excellent company, provide you with brilliant training and you are often given the opportunity, at least twice a year to get promoted. I’m on £4.50 and 17. I’ve had a job since 15 and I have worked at Maccies since May. I only get that wage for working in one of the busiest stores in the country. It’s not rubbish; you’re just not used to it. Welcome to the working world! 😀

  8. it is illegal for a person under the age of 18 to work more than 4.5 hours without a half an hour break.
    it is also illegal for a person under the age of 18 to work more than 8 hours in one day.
    also under 18 year olds are not allowed to work before 7am or after 10pm by law.

    • I am 17. I work for an increasingly popular fast food company. I work after ten pm sometimes and have started as early as 8am. If I give my permission to work these times, I am legally allowed to do so. STOP USING CAPITALS AND GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT!! I often work more than eight hours but I always get at least one forty-five minute break. Deal with it. Life could be worse.

    • The reason why you guys get paid less is cuz compair your life to other people. The people age 18 + thay have to pay more for everything. So thay would need more money to live with that and most of you guys underage. Get a free house free meal free cloths … some 18 year olds are alreadys parents and the fact that cuz you guys pay less you would save more therefore your more finalcaly prepaired for the road ahead. so my advise is save that money us it for a rainy day and you should Never Get your self into Debt !! unless your a rich b*^%$£” you know what i mean ….xD


Leave a comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - £0.00