Changes to the National Minimum Wage exemption for live-in domestic workers

Currently the law states that there is no entitlement to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in respect of work done in relation to an employer’s family household. This happens where an individual lives in the family home of the employer and is treated as member of the family – particularly where accommodation and meals are provided, tasks and leisure activities are shared and where there is no deduction from wages for food or accommodation. 

The current exemptions are intended to cover au pairs, nannies and companions. However, these exemptions have been criticised on the basis that they are indirectly discriminatory towards women. 

The proposed changes

In October 2021, the Low Pay Commission recommended that the exemption be scrapped. Following these recommendations, it has been proposed that the exemptions for live-in domestic workers for receiving the NMW will therefore be removed. The effect of this is that live-in workers will be entitled to the NMW for the hours they work like any other worker. The hours a live-in domestic works will therefore have to be logged and recorded and pay given accordingly for those hours. If these are not done properly and the wage that the employee is receiving starts to fall effectively below the NMW, then this could be a potential violation of NMW legislation. This means that the employer could potentially become liable to the employee for not having paid the prescribed minimum wage, a position that can potentially have financial penalties attached to it. 

The current 2023 NMW levels

Age of workerNational Minimum Wage 
23 Years +£10.42 per hour 
21 – 22 Years£10.18 per hour
18 – 20 Years£7.49 per hour 
16 – 17 Years £5.28 per hour 

Actual family members and the exemption 

The NMW exemption for actual members of the family who perform domestic duties and reside at home will stay. The exemptions are currently only being removed for non-family members.

When will the exemption be removed and what do employers need to do?

The proposed changes will not take place immediately. At present the exemption still exists and there is no immediate need to make changes. However, it is expected that the exemption will be abolished on the 1st April 2024. This means that those who are affected by the changes will need to make plans soon to ensure they are not violating NMW regulations come the 1st April. 

How Moor Barlow can help

If you are affected by these upcoming changes and would like some advice then the Employment law team at Moore Barlow can advise you.