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Paying Apprentices The Right Amount

HMRC has recently been urging employers to check that they are paying apprentices the right amount. Specifically, they have provided employers with a checklist to help them make sure there are no errors in payments. Here’s what apprentice employers need to check:

  • Pay apprentices the right amount according to apprentice age

Depending on their age and how much of the apprenticeship they have completed, apprentices must be paid different hourly rates of pay. To illustrate, here’s just one example: an apprentice who is aged 19 and in their first year of their apprenticeship will be entitled to a minimum of £4.30 an hour. However, as soon as that apprentice completes their first year of the apprenticeship, they are entitled to £6.56 an hour.

Here’s a breakdown of what you should currently be paying your apprentice:

National Minimum Wage hourly rate by age of worker
23 & over 21 to 22 20 19 18 Under 18
Before or after apprenticeship starts/ends 8.91 8.36 6.56 6.56 6.56 4.62
Apprentice still in 1st year of apprenticeship 4.3 4.3 4.3 4.3 4.3 4.3
Apprentice completed 1st year of apprenticeship 8.91 8.36 6.56 6.56 4.3 4.3


  • Count apprentice training time as working time

Apprentice training time is counted as working time. So it must be paid for at your apprentice’s normal hourly rate, in line with age and stage of apprenticeship. This is regardless of whether training takes place at work or elsewhere. Training can even take place outside normal working hours.

  • Take care with deductions

If you make deductions from your apprentice’s pay for things such as tools, uniform or other job-related expenses, then this might lead to underpayment. Importantly, apprentices must still get what they’re legally entitled to after any such deductions have been made.

Minimum pay rates are changing

From 1st April 2022, the national minimum wage for an apprentice aged 16-17 or any apprentice in their first year increases from £4.30 an hour to £4.81 an hour.

Recorded webinar on paying the National Minimum Wage correctly to apprentices