The Comprehensive Guide To Your Salary

Last Updated on 13th September 2021 by Freddie Chirgwin-Bell

Money. It’s a difficult subject to talk about for most people. We get shy, we see it as rude, however, it’s an inevitable part of our lives so we’re going to have to talk about it.

This guide will act as an up to date resource about everything you need to know about rates of pay, wages, salaries, the differences between them and your rights surrounding them.

National minimum and living wage

One of the more common misconceptions is the difference between “national minimum wage” and “national living wage”. The minimum wage a worker gets depends on their age and if they’re an apprentice.

The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to. The National Living Wage is higher than the National Minimum Wage – workers get it if they’re over 23.

It does not matter how small an employer is, they still have to pay the correct minimum wage.

From April 2021, the National Living Wage is £8.91 for anyone over the age of 23 and the National Minimum Wage is £6.56 for those aged 18 and over.

Below are the current wage brackets per hour:

  • Aged 23+:  £8.91
  • Aged 21-22: £8.36
  • Aged 18-20: £6.56
  • Under 18: £4.62
  • Apprentices: £4.30

To double check if you are getting at least the minimum wage you can use the government wage calculator.

Remember this is the absolute minimum you will receive per hour. Different industries and sectors will have different rates of pay, however they should all be above this standard.

If you think you’re being underpaid then there are people you can call.

ACAS helpline and other resources

If you find that you’re earning less than you’re entitled to you can get in touch with the ACAS helpline and ask for advice, or even make a confidential complaint.

You can:

  • Use the ACAS Helpline Online to ask questions
  • Look at the full A to Z of advice that ACAS can give
  • Call the ACAS helpline
  • Telephone: 0300 123 1100
  • Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
  • Saturday, 9am to 1pm

The Real Living Wage

Whilst there is the National Living Wage which is mandatory and protected by government, there is an external body that a lot of employers have signed up to; The Real Living Wage.

The Real Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is voluntarily paid by over 7,000 UK businesses who believe their staff deserve a wage which meets everyday needs – like the weekly shop, or a surprise trip to the dentist.

So much so the rate is calculated by the cost of living and even has a dedicated weighting for the most expensive city there is: London.

As mentioned, it is a completely voluntary scheme to sign up to, however, these businesses often sign up to the scheme officially and you can look them up or recognise them by the badge accredited to them.

As such you know you will receive a higher wage than the National Living Wage, and that it is, by their calculations, more in keeping with what the cost of living is.

Negotiating your pay

We all want to be paid what we’re worth.

If you’ve been offered a job, it’s important to negotiate your salary before you accept. Although this can be an uncomfortable subject to approach, you want to get the salary you deserve.

Talking about money is often a taboo subject (unless you work in finance) but when it comes to your wages, negotiating this will only lead to benefit.

Glassdoor has a great guide with a step-by-step breakdown on how to negotiate your salary.

There’s a lot of ways, methods, and tips available out there with a quick Google search. However, it all comes down to 3 steps:

  1. Research your job, your salary, and your industry
  2. Decide on a figure or a range, then create and practice your pitch
  3. Do your pitch.

Whilst this is obviously an oversimplified version of most guides these cover the main key points you’ll need to negotiate.

Every person, position, job, and industry are different. Only you can truly create a pitch you’re happy with.

Also don’t forget things to negotiate other than your salary. What about flexible working? What about learning opportunities or tuition funds? These can feed into your personal development plan and provide a distinct advantage.

Remember negotiating your salary is not only for new jobs, you can use it for a pay rise, so regularly review your position and see if you should negotiate upwards.

Making the most of your money

Salaries, rates of pay, and wages are always varied. With that, being savvy with every penny counts.

So when it comes to your money, your rights with money and jobs, and all things finance you can use something such as MoneyHelper (what was the Money Advice Service) or Money Saving Expert for advice, guides, calculators and more.