From 1 October 2003, the national minimum wage increased from £4.20 to £4.50 (adult rate - 22 years and over), and from £3.60 to £3.80 (youth rate - 18-21 years).

The rates are based on the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission. The Commission has also recommended increases for October 2004 of £4.85 (adult rate) and £4.10 (youth rate), although these rates will be confirmed in early 2004.

DTI published figures showing that the Inland Revenue (the NMW enforcement body) carried out more than 6,000 investigations last year. They found that over £3.5million of wages had not been paid as a result of employers not paying employees the national minimum wage.

The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 was amended with effect from 8 July 2003. The Act now makes it clear that enforcement officers can issue minimum wage enforcement notices in respect of former employees.