Pay, minimum wage, pay slips, and deductions

The are laws to stop people being worked too hard. And there are things you can do if your employer isn't following the law. We explain your right to pay, whether you are entitled to the minimum wage, and your rights when it comes to deductions from your pay (wage deductions), pay in cash, wage slips, or what to do if your employer hasn't paid you or is not giving you the amount of pay your are entitled to. We also show you how to go about trying to sort out the issue if your employer is not treating you fairly.
Man with a problem

The minimum wage

Almost all workers are entitled to the national minimum wage (if they are under 22 or under) or the national living wage (if they are 23 or over), no matter who they are or who they work for. 

If you are allowed to work in the UK, no matter where you came from, you are entitled to at least this basic rate of pay. 

It also makes no difference whether you are an employee or not.

You are entitled whether you work full-time or part-time, or if you are a casual worker (who only works shifts sometimes). 

You are also entitled if you work from home or are paid by commission.

The amount you receive depends on your age and whether you are an apprentice. Check the current rates of the national minimum wage and national living wage

Sometimes employers can take deductions from your wage, for example for accommodation, or repayment of a loan or advance wages. Deductions like these can reduce your pay below the national minimum wage. 

If your employer is making deductions it is sometimes hard to tell if you are being paid the correct amount. Use the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage Calculator to check if you are being paid the correct amount.

If you are not being paid the correct amount (or higher)

If you are not being paid the correct amount (or higher) your employer is breaking the law. Make an appointment to speak to your manager to see if you can sort out the problem informally.

If that doesn’t work, call the ACAS Helpline on 0300 123 1100. 

Deductions from your pay

Your employer can make certain deductions from your pay, for example for National Insurance, Income Tax or student loan repayments. (These often show up on your payslip as PAYE).

Sometimes the court will ask them to make deductions to pay off a debt. They can also deduct the pay for days you have been on strike. Or if there has been an earlier overpayment of wages or expenses.

Otherwise they can only take deductions from your wage if it says they can in your contract, or you agree to it in writing. 

Sometimes your employer might want to deduct a shortfall in the till from your wages, for example if they think it was your mistake. If they can do this, they must only take a maximum of 10% out of your paycheck. If the amount they think you are legally responsible for is over that amount, they can take up to 10% from your next paycheck. If you leave your job, they can take the full amount owed from your final paycheck. Remember they can only take deductions like this, if it says they can in your employment contract.

Payment in cash

Sometimes employers say they want to pay you in cash. It  may sound good as you get a fatter pay packet. But it is often illegal because it is a way round paying tax and national insurance. You also lose out on a lot of the rights because your employment contract will not be valid. 

And if you are not paying National Insurance, you will not be able to claim some benefits which are dependent on NI contributions. This will be a problem if you become ill and cannot work, or if you want to claim maternity allowance when you have a baby, bereavement benefits, and the state pension when you reach pension age.  

This is just one of our resources to help you understand your employment rights. We also have help that explains you rights as a employee or worker (including self-employed worker rights),  working parents rights (including maternity rights in the workplace), the law on hours between shifts, your rights to sick leave with pay, and holiday pay

If your employer doesn't give you wage slips

If you are an employee, you have a right to get pay slips from your employer showing how your pay has been calculated and giving a break down of all deductions. 

Make sure you are getting these and keep them safe. If you are sent them by email, always download them to your own device or print them - just in case something happens at work and they block your access to your work email account.

You may need them if there is a problem in future and they are a useful record of how much tax you have paid. Pay slips also provide proof of your income - you may need evidence of your earnings for things like renting a flat or getting a mortgage. 

You are also entitled to a P60 form at the end of the tax year (April) showing how much you have earned over the year and how much tax you have paid. 

You are also entitled to a P45 when you finish a job. You will need to give your P45 to your next employer. 

Find more information on PAYE forms: P45, P60, P11D

If your employer hasn’t paid you

Your employer must pay you the wages you are owed on time, on the day specified in your contract.If they haven’t paid you, or haven’t paid you the full amount they owe you, speak to them about it. If that doesn’t sort it out, make a note of the date and time you had that conversation. And call the ACAS helpline on 0300 123 1100, open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

If you are not earning enough money 

If you are being paid less than other people at your work who are doing similar jobs you might be a victim of unlawful discrimination - have a look at our information on Discrimination. But if others are paid more because they are genuinely more qualified or experienced, that's fair enough.

If your employer pays less than other employers for your type of work, you could try talking to your boss and explain to him or her that they pay less than the going rate. They might agree to give you a pay rise. If not, you might be wise to find a more generous employer.

August 2023

More information about pay

For more help see Pay. We have hand-picked the best accurate information available about discrimination law in England and Wales available anywhere on the web, so that you don't have to.

About this guide

The information in this guide applies to England and Wales.

The law is complicated. We recommend you try to get advice from the sources we have suggested if at all possible.

This guide was written by Law for Life thanks to funding from the Bar Standards Board.

Law for Life would like to thank all those who provided advice and feedback on this guide and Amy Stroud from 42BR Barristers who peer reviewed the guide.

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