With strict regulations imposed by HMRC around paying minimum wage, as well as rules around pay and training, it can be difficult to get to grips with how much each staff member should be paid and in what circumstances.

You probably have a range of different practitioners working at your setting: from childcare apprentices, childcarers who have completed their Level 2 or Level 3, right through to much more experienced members of staff. But, what are they all entitled to?

The amount of money your practitioners should be paid depends on their age and whether they’re doing a childcare apprenticeship. Currently, the adult rate for National Minimum Wage, as stated on the gov.co.uk website, is £6.50.

2014 (current rate)
2015 (1 October 2015)
21 and over
21 and over
18 to 20
18 to 20
Under 18
Under 18

Apprentice wage

The hourly rate for apprentices applies to staff who are 16-18 years old and also to those aged 19 or over in their first year of working as an apprentice at your setting. In these circumstances, the wage you must pay is £2.73p an hour (minimum). However, some nurseries opt to pay a higher rate than this. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age.

Holiday entitlement

Childcare apprentices have the right to the same holiday entitlement as other employees. The standard holiday entitlement for employees in the UK is 4 weeks off each year. You may offer more than this, but this minimum still applies.

You may not know that bank or public holidays do not have to be given as paid leave. You can choose whether to include bank holidays as part of an employee’s statutory annual leave of 28 days.

Working time directive

The working time directive covers how many hours an employee works per week. The amount is set at an average of 48 hours. This means that, if your staff work more than this one week, it should be balanced out by working less in another week. The average is worked out over a 17 week period and you cannot force employees to work beyond this 48 hour limit, unless they choose to opt out of the directive by choice.

If you employ a young school leaver who is under 18 years old, there are slightly different rules to how much time they can work. They cannot work longer than 40 hours per week on a full time contract.

Pay and training

Your employees (regardless of whether they are apprentices or not) must be paid by you for their working time. This does not apply to volunteers at your setting.  “Working time” is defined as time spent:

  • at work
  • where the employee is required to be working
  • travelling in connection with work
  • doing training
  • travelling to training

Getting it right

As a business, you cannot claim that you don’t know the rules about paying your staff correctly; this will not exempt you from the law.  Aside from getting into trouble with HMRC, you also run the risk of losing the trust of your staff if you accidentally underpay them. If you’re still unsure where you stand in respect of paying certain members of staff, seek advice from a human resources consultant who will be able to provide you with further information.

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